With $500 million for ’60s Scoop survivors idling in a bank account, a lawyer for the class says he’s working on getting an early payment order amended so money can flow to thousands of survivors after these cheques were put on hold.
On March 27, Justice Michael Phelan approved a motion for Canada to transfer $500 million to the claims assessor Collectiva so that, once 4,767 applications were rejected, $25,000 could be paid to more than 12,000 survivors whose applications have been approved.
But the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench into the machinery of the claims assessment process and Collectiva hasn’t rejected that many applications. Doug Lennox, one of the lawyers who negotiated the $875-million settlement agreement, says he hopes to propose a new solution by mid-May.
“If the 4,767 claims were dismissed, then we would know that everybody’s claim was going to be $25,000 each. But since we can’t get that number, then how are we going to know how much to pay everybody?” he said.
“What I’m going to suggest to the court is that Collectiva has enough money on reserve right now that they can start paying people $21,500, and then later when we have the final tally there’ll be a second cheque.”
In an April 20 online update, Collectiva told survivors that time limits had been suspended for those who received a letter asking for more information, as COVID-19 closures and physical distancing measures made it difficult for class members to retrieve necessary documentation.
Lennox said it wouldn’t be fair to impose time limits on class-members who can’t access their records given that archives are shuttered and in-person meetings can’t happen.
Collectiva updated survivors three days later, stating that the delays kept them from rejecting the required number of applications, which put early payments on hold.
APTN News heard that the delays frustrated many, but survivors have also proved divided on the issue of early payments.
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Federal court approves transfer of $500M to start process of compensating 60s Scoop survivors early
“We’ve heard a lot from people about wanting to get an interim payment, but we’ve heard other views as well. Whenever you have a class-action, there’s as many opinions as there are people,” Lennox stated.
There’s still no clear timeline on when money will be paid to survivors. It also isn’t guaranteed that Phelan will accept Lennox’s proposed two-cheque solution.
“I don’t know if the court will agree with me or how long it will take. All I can do is give the court all the information it needs,” he said.
Katherine Legrange, who leads the non-profit 60s Scoop Legacy of Canada advocacy group, said she was “pleased” to see movement on the issue. Her organized penned a letter to the court on April 27.
“We have heard that survivors and claimants are weary of the stalls and some are in desperate need of funds for a variety of reasons,” Legrange told APTN in an email.
“It is also hoped that Collectiva will provide an update to the claims processing, which would give claimants a glimmer of hope to see some progress in this lengthy proceeding.”
The ’60s Scoop was a wave of adoptions from 1951 into the ‘80s when social workers removed First Nations, Inuit and Metis children from their families and placed them in non-Indigenous homes across Canada and the United States.
Only First Nations and Inuit are eligible for inclusion in the settlement, however.
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1 thought on “‘60s Scoop lawyer to ask court to order initial payments to survivors”
I would like too see the interest on the money being held, dispersed too each person who has an approved claim… Its in our INTEREST…
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