$90-million Manitoba flood cheques in the mail

“They’re called disruption payments,”

Cheques are in the mail for members of four First Nations intentionally flooded in 2011 by the Manitoba government, APTN News has learned.

About 7,000 people started receiving compensation last week from a $90-million settlement for personal property.

Their belongings were damaged when the then-NDP government of Greg Selinger diverted flood water into First Nations, lakefront cottage areas and farm operations to spare the capital city of Winnipeg.

“They’re called disruption payments,” said lawyer Sabrina Lombardi of the payments to members of Pinaymootang (Fairford), Little Saskatchewan, Dauphin River and Lake St. Martin.

“It’s an excellent settlement.”

Posts on social media this week report heavy traffic at some rural post offices as claimants receive their cheques. Payments vary in size depending on whether claimants lived on or off reserve at the time of the flooding.

Lombardi, of McKenzie Lake in Toronto, declined to reveal dollar amounts to protect the privacy of claimants but noted the settlement is putting “tens of thousands of dollars in the hands of those impacted.”

Many evacuees from Lake St. Martin were never able to return to their homes. (APTN file)

APTN has learned eligible adults can expect to receive between $42,000 and $67,000 while children get 10 per cent of that.

Further compensation under the category “special circumstances” for people who suffered health problems or loss of work due to flooding is still being assessed, Lombard added.

A Manitoba judge originally approved the settlement in January 2018. The settlement applies to personal belongings and not band property like housing, infrastructure and land.

Compensation for those larger community losses is still being discussed.

Claimants were initially expecting the payments last December when allegations of fraud put the process on hold.

Lombardi, at that time, told APTN the application process would be re-opened to weed out real evacuees from fake. She wouldn’t say Tuesday how many false claims were discovered.

She said interest was accruing on the settlement money in the meantime that would benefit claimants – many of whom were forced out of their homes for years.


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