A year and a half after facing criticism for trying to defend itself against multiple class-action lawsuits, the federal government has been presented with a settlement amount following proceedings that began early 2018. On Thursday, July 18, it was announced that the Canadian government is paying $900 million to settle these lawsuits that were filed on behalf of survivors of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and sexual assault in the military.
Breaking down this amount, $800 million of this settlement will go to members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the other $100 million will be compensation for another class of employees in the Department of National Defence.
Participants in several lawsuits claiming similar misconduct and systemic problems in the military had come together these past few years, to strengthen their legal actions against the government. In one of the claims, three former military members described the Armed Forces as "poisoned by a discriminatory and sexualized culture." They said this was caused by a failure in leadership and further encouraged sexual misconduct.
In a statement on the same day, deputy defence minister Jody Thomas and the military’s top general Jonathan Vance said, "We hope that the settlement will help bring closure, healing, and acknowledgment to the victims and survivors of sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination."
They also acknowledged the "obligation to ensure a safe work environment for all women and men" in the military.
Class members will mainly be eligible to receive between $5,000 and $55,000. Higher compensations - up to $155,000 - will go to those who were put through exceptional harm, and were denied disability benefits related to that harm.
In the settlement, the government promised to create a "restorative engagement" program as a way for victims to share these types of experiences with senior military leaders.
There will also be an external review of current anti-harassment programs, along with revisions to how the government deals with disability benefits for those who have survived sexual assault or harassment.
Disclaimer: This article’s cover image is used for illustrative purposes only.