Ontario Civil

Aboriginal Peoples

Federal government was required to revise reports relating to Indian residential schools settlement agreement

Federal government and other entities settled class actions with respect to harm arising from Indian residential schools. Settlement terms were specified in Indian residential schools settlement agreement. Agreement provided for common experience payment for all students who were residents at schools. Agreement provided independent assessment process for claims for compensation for particular acts of abuse. Agreement required federal government to search for and report on information relating to students and abusers at school to facilitate independent assessment process. Federal government gathered information relating to particular incident at school A only after being ordered to do so. Federal government failed to provide adequate reports of information obtained. Certain students who had attended school A and school H and were claiming compensation under independent assessment process brought request for directions as to whether federal government had complied with its report writing and information sharing obligations under agreement. Request granted in part. Federal government was required to revise reports relating to agreement so as to specify documents relating to particular incidents of abuse. Federal government was to provide unredacted copies of publicly available court records to independent assessment process administrators, and to students or their lawyers if requested. Finally, federal government was required to provide redacted copies of other documents gathered for independent assessment process. Agreement required reports to identify all allegations or incidents of physical or sexual abuse at schools in meaningful way that made it easier for students to advance their claims and made it more efficient for adjudicators to decide claims. This was bargained-for term of agreement. Agreement did not require that all documents be unredacted. Redaction of documents was another major item in negotiations and required balancing of disclosure necessary for adjudication of claims and sensitivity to privacy of students and alleged abusers. Federal government was not required to update reports relating to school H since reports had not been filed to establish problems with them.

Fontaine v. Canada (Attorney General) (Jun. 23, 2015, Ont. S.C.J., Perell J., File No. 00-CV-192059) 255 A.C.W.S. (3d) 802.

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