Plaintiffs in Five National Class Actions Team Up to Take Canada to Court in Canadian Armed Forces Systemic Sexual Assault and Harassment Class Actions

TORONTO, Sept. 7, 2017 /CNW/ - Plaintiffs in five separate class actions have agreed to work together to take Canada to court seeking policy changes and redress for systemic sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination in the Canadian Armed Forces. The class actions were filed in Ottawa, Toronto, Quebec City, Halifax, and Victoria. Now that all five plaintiffs have agreed to combine their resources to work together, current and former members of the Canadian Armed Forces truly have "coast to coast" representation.

Controversy over the Canadian Armed Forces' procedures and programs in relation to sexual harassment and sexual assault has intensified in recent years. Statistics Canada reported in November 2016 that 4.8% of women in the Canadian Armed Forces had reported being sexually assaulted in the past 12 months. Among those serving in the Primary Reserve, 8.2% of female members reported to having been victims of sexual assault in the past 12 months. Finally, more than one-quarter (27.3%) of women reported having been victims of sexual assault at least once since joining the Canadian Armed Forces.

In order to address these issues, class actions were filed across Canada seeking change on behalf of those who endured sexual assault, harassment, and gender-based discrimination in the Canadian Armed Forces. Now, the plaintiffs in these class actions have entered into an agreement to prosecute the cases together.

The plaintiffs in class actions are represented by Koskie Minsky LLP in Toronto, Raven, Cameron, Ballantyne & Yazbeck LLP/s.r.l. in Ottawa, Quessy Henry St-Hilaire, avocats in Quebec City, Wagners – A Serious Injury Law Firm, in Halifax, and Acheson Sweeney Foley Sahota LLP in Victoria.

The class action filed in Victoria, British Columbia, was the most recent lawsuit to join the consortium.

"The Statistics Canada numbers are staggering," said Nicola Peffers, the plaintiff in that class action. "Among working Canadians, 0.9% reported being victims of sexual assault in any situation. Why are the numbers almost five to ten times higher in the military? How many victims must there be in order for Canada to take action?"

The motions for certification, which will decide if the cases can proceed as class actions will be heard in the Federal Court the week of July 9, 2018.

Koskie Minsky LLP, based in Toronto, is one of Canada's foremost class action, pension, trade union, and litigation firms. Its class actions group has been a leader in class actions since 1992 and has prosecuted many of the leading cases in the area. Koskie Minsky LLP was counsel to the survivors of former residents of Huronia Regional Centre and 14 other residential facilities for people with disabilities against the Province of Ontario, wherein the Province agreed to pay survivors over $103.6 million and to provide an apology to former residents for the harm they sustained. Koskie Minsky LLP was also counsel in Cloud v. Canada, the first Indian residential schools class action certified in Canada, which resulted in a $4 billion pan-Canadian settlement.

Raven, Cameron, Ballantyne & Yazbeck LLP/s.r.l., is an Ottawa-based law firm specializing in labour/employment, human rights, and public law, with involvement in class action litigation. RavenLaw has extensive experience in addressing systemic gender-based discrimination. The firm was counsel in the historic $3.2 billion pay equity win for federal public service employees, the $150 million pay equity award against Canada Post at the Supreme Court of Canada, and numerous other pay equity cases, including most recently the $45 million pay equity settlement at Statistical Survey Operations. RavenLaw has been appointed as amicus curiae by the Supreme Court of Canada and has argued leading cases in the area of human rights and constitutional law.

Wagners, based in Halifax, is a leading class actions firm in Atlantic Canada and has been involved in class action litigation on a local and national basis since 2004. Wagners acts as class counsel representing plaintiffs in a diverse array of provincial and national class actions involving pharmaceuticals, defective medical devices, pathology errors, product liability, privacy breaches, institutional abuse and environmental contamination. In the realm of institutional abuse class actions, Wagners successfully represented former residents of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children concerning decades of abuse in a class action that settled for $34 million. Wagners also currently represents former students who suffered sexual, physical, and emotional abuse while attending province-run Schools for the Deaf.

Quessy Henry St.-Hilaire, avocats, based in Quebec City, serves diverse clientele in many practice areas, including insurance, administrative law and corporate law. The cooperation and the complementarity skills of the independent lawyers at Quessy Henry St.-Hilaire, avocats allow clients to benefit from their collective experience.

Acheson Sweeney Foley Sahota LLP is a leading Victoria-based personal injury and class action law firm. For more than 35 years, Acheson Law has represented individuals who have been harmed by motor vehicle collisions, slip and falls, medical negligence, defective products, and rights violations. Lawyers from the firm contributed to drafting the BC Class Procedures Act, and filed the first two class action lawsuits in the province. The firm has continually achieved top results for plaintiffs in individual and class actions, including a $50,000,000 class action settlement for persons injured by silicone gel breast implants, and a $13,000,000 individual settlement in 2012, which at that time was 1.5 times the previous high for the province of British Columbia.

SOURCE Koskie Minsky LLP

For further information: If you are a current or former member of the Canadian Armed Forces who has experienced sexual harassment or assault or for more information, contact: Media Contact: Jonathan Ptak, Koskie Minsky LLP, (416) 595-2149, jptak@kmlaw.ca; Class Member Contact: Toll Free: 1(888) 502-7455, Website: www.kmlaw.ca/militaryassaultclassaction, Email: militaryassaultclassaction@kmlaw.ca; Media Contact: Andrew Raven, Raven, Cameron, Ballantyne and Yazbeck LLP, (613) 567-2901, araven@ravenlaw.com; Class Member Contact: www.ravenlaw.com/armed-forces-class-action, armedforcesclassaction@ravenlaw.com; Media Contact: Raymond Wagner, Wagners, (902) 425-7330, classaction@wagners.co; Class Member Contact: 1 (800) 465-8794, http://www.wagners.co/current-class-actions; Media Contact: Jean-Daniel Quessy, Quessy Henry St-Hilaire, avocats, jd@quessyavocats.ca, (418) 682-8924 #224; Media Contact: Rajinder Sahota, Acheson Sweeney Foley Sahota LLP, sahota@achesonlaw.ca, 250.384.6262; Class Member Contact: 1 (877) 275-8766, http://www.achesonlaw.ca/class-action/

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