Montreal

Quebec school fees class action: cheques are actually in the mail

The mailing will consist of individual cheques of $24.09 per student per school year, covering school years from 2009 to the 2016-2017 session.

1.4 million letters being mailed in $153M settlement over school fees

A Saguenay mother of two children launched the lawsuit in 2016, contending parents who send their children to public schools shouldn't have to pay extra fees for things like photocopying, field trips, and supplies. (CBC)

A total of 1.4 million cheques will soon begin to appear in the mailboxes of eligible parents across Quebec as part of a class-action settlement over public school fees.

"We want the parents to be on the lookout," Jean-Philippe Groleau, a lawyer at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg, told CBC Montreal's Daybreak this morning.

"If you're a parent out there and over the next few months you get a letter from Collectiva, please look into it. There's a cheque in there."

Those cheques are part of the $153-million settlement of a lawsuit launched in 2016. It targeted 68 of the province's 72 school board, including all nine English-language boards.

Collectiva Class Action Services Inc. is responsible for mailing the cheques — $24.09 per student per school year, covering school years from 2009 to the 2016-2017 session. Many parents will get multiple cheques.

Parents don't need to sign up to get paid

Unlike most class actions, parents don't need to sign up to be compensated, Groleau said. 

"In this case we agreed with the school boards to go with direct distribution, so the parents don't have to do anything," he said. "They will get the cheques in the mail if their last addresses are known" to the school boards.

The class action was launched by Daisye Marcil, a mother of two from the Saguenay.

She argued parents who send their children to public schools shouldn't have to pay extra fees for things like photocopying, field trips, and supplies such as calculators and tennis balls.

Marcil launched the suit on behalf of parents of 900,000 Quebec students, arguing that public instruction should be free of charge.

Parents who don't receive cheques can contact Collectiva, Groleau said, but the mailing will take months, so they should wait until the end of the year before doing so.

Groleau said the fixed settlement amount was "the only solution to get everyone some amount of compensation" in a reasonable time period.

"If we had tried to go individually and compensate everyone for exactly what they had disbursed, it would have been an exercise that lasted years and probably no one would have gotten anything."

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