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Fast track for compensation claims

The Story

Lawyer Tony Merchant calls it Ottawa's "air miles" program. He represents almost half of the 12,000 residential school survivors whose lawsuits against the government are still outstanding. He says a plan to award claimants money based on a points system ignores their individual suffering. But, as Industry Minister Ralph Goodale points out in this CBC clip, the plan will save $1 billion and resolve cases much more quickly.

Medium: Television
Program: Canada Now
Broadcast Date: Dec. 20, 2002
Guests: Ralph Goodale, Tony Merchant
Reporter: Geoff Leo
Duration: 2:18

Did You know?

• Under the proposed alternate dispute resolution (ADR) process, representatives of the church and government and the claimant move out of the courts system. All parties work together to establish the level of abuse and determine a fair method and amount of redress.

• This process is said to be less time-consuming, less stressful and less expensive than traditional court proceedings.

• According to the federal government, about 10 to 12 per cent of former students of residential schools have filed lawsuits claiming abuse and loss of culture.

• As of March 2003, an average of one lawsuit per day was being settled using ADR. Settlements averaged $100,000.

• Though legal action has meant relief for many residential school survivors, it has brought more pain to others. In October 1998, AFN chief Phil Fontaine wrote a letter to law societies across Canada expressing concern with the aggressive measures some firms were using to sign up clients. Lawyers were holding meetings in town halls and asking survivors to detail their residential school abuse, and some survivors committed suicide after reliving the pain of their experiences.


A Lost Heritage: Canada's Residential Schools more