Ottawa to pay nearly $1B to settle sexual misconduct lawsuits against Canadian Armed Forces
The Canadian government has agreed to pay nearly a $1 billion to settle class-action lawsuits from Canadian Armed Forces members who allege rampant sexual misconduct in the military.
"While not admitting liability, the government of Canada has agreed to a settlement," reads a statement
Of the $900 million set aside, $800 million will cover current and former members of the armed forces and $100 million will go to Department of National Defence employees who experienced sexual harassment, sexual assault or discrimination based on sex, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation on the job.
Class members will be eligible for compensation between $5,000 and $55,000 depending on what happened to them.
Members who experienced "exceptional harm" and who were previously denied benefits in respect of that harm could be eligible for up to $155,000.
"Payment amounts will also depend on how many class members submit claims," said the government in its release.
The Federal Court still has to hold a hearing on in mid September to decide if the proposed settlement is reasonable and then, if so, certify it.
Government lawyers had previously sought to stop the class action lawsuit and faced backlash after telling a court the government does not "owe a private law duty of care to individual members within the CAF to provide a safe and harassment-free work environment, or to create policies to prevent sexual harassment or sexual assault."
Last year Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that language was "of concern" and soon after the federal government moved to settle the lawsuits.
Gen. Jonathan Vance, the country's top soldier, has made stamping out harassment a priority.
Operation Honour, one of his signature initiatives, aims to address a longstanding culture of sexual misconduct in the Canadian military.
The military also launched a sexual misconduct response centre, which has fielded hundreds of complaints and conducted investigations into allegations of impropriety since it was established in 2016.