Frequently asked questions (FAQS)


1. What is a class action?

In a class action, the Plaintiffs act as “Class Representatives” and sue on behalf of themselves and other people who have similar claims. This group of people is called the “Class,” and the people in the Class are called “Class Members.” One court resolves the issues for all Class Members, except for people who exclude themselves from the Class. The Honourable Justice Fothergill of the Federal Courts is in charge of this case. The case is Sherry Heyder, Amy Graham and Nadine Schultz-Nielsen v. the Attorney General of Canada (“Heyder Class Action”) Court File Number T-2111-16 and Larry Beattie v. The Attorney General of Canada (“Beattie Class Action”) Court File Number T-460-17.

2. What is this class action about?

In 2016 and 2017 Seven former members of the Canadian Armed Forces (the “Representative Plaintiffs”) initiated class action lawsuits (“Heyder and Beattie Class Actions”) against the Government of Canada (“Canada”) alleging sexual harassment, sexual assault or discrimination based on sex, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation (“Sexual Misconduct”) in connection with their military service and/or employment with the Department of National Defence (“DND”) and/or Staff of the Non-Public Funds, Canadian Forces (“SNPF”).

On consent of the parties, on November 25, 2019, the Federal Court certified the lawsuits as class proceedings and approved a settlement agreement that provides compensation to current and former members the Canadian Armed Forces (“CAF”) and current and former employees of the DND/SNPF who experienced Sexual Misconduct. The settlement is not to be construed as an admission of liability on the part of Canada.

3. Has the settlement been approved?

The settlement agreement was approved on November 25, 2019, by the Federal Court following the Settlement Approval Hearings held on September 19, 2019, September 20, 2019 and October 3, 2019. The settlement is not to be construed as an admission of liability on the part of Canada.

4. Who can receive compensation under this class action?

You are a Class Member, and are included in the settlement, if you are a current or former CAF member and/or DND/SNPF employee who has experienced Sexual Misconduct.

“CAF Class Members” have been defined as follows:

All current or former CAF members who experienced Sexual Misconduct up to and including November 25, 2019, who have not opted out of the Heyder or Beattie Class Actions.

“DND/SNPF Class Members” have been defined as follows:

All current and former employees of DND and of the Staff of the Non-Public Funds, Canadian Forces, who experienced Sexual Misconduct up to and including November 25, 2019, who have not Opted Out of the Heyder or Beattie Class Actions.

“Sexual Misconduct” means the following, in Connection with Military Service for the CAF Class and in Connection with Employment for the DND/SNPF Class:

  1. Sexual harassment;
  2. Sexual assault; and/or
  3. Discrimination on the grounds of sex, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.

“Eligible Class Member” is defined as a Class Member who was alive as of March 15, 2019, and whose application for an Individual Payment is approved in accordance with the provisions of the Final Settlement Agreement.

5. What does the settlement provide?

The settlement provides:

  1. Financial compensation for certain Class Members who experienced Sexual Misconduct connected with their military service and/or employment for DND/SNPF.

    Upon assessment of the nature of the incidents of Sexual Misconduct and the severity of the harm suffered as a result of those incidents, Class Members may be eligible for an Individual Payment in relation to incidents of Sexual Misconduct occurring during the Class Period, that is comprised of the Financial Compensation Amounts for which they are assessed as eligible, as set out in the Financial Compensation Grid (the "Compensation Amounts") (see table below), subject to the limitations set out in Sections 7.11 - 7.15, 12.01, 12.02 and 12.03 of the settlement agreement.

  2. The option to participate in a restorative engagement program for survivors to share their experiences of Sexual Misconduct with senior CAF and/or DND representatives;

  3. Changes to CAF policies and other measures addressing Sexual Misconduct in the CAF; and

  4. Changes to Veteran’s Affairs Canada (VAC) policies related to eligibility for disability payments and reconsideration of claims by a dedicated unit of employees established to assist with these claims.


Category Category Description Financial Compensation Level (CAD) Harm Level
A
  • Sexual harassment, gender-based and LGBTQ2+ based discrimination
  • Limited to women and those who identify as LGBTQ2+
  • Limited to incidents occurring after April 17, 1985
$5,000.00 N/A
B1 Targeted or ongoing or severe sexual harassment and/or sexual assault in the form of unwanted sexual touching $5,000.00 Low Harm
$10,000.00 Medium Harm
$20,000.00 High Harm
B2 Sexual assault in the form of sexual attack or sexual activity where no consent or unable to consent $30,000.00 Low Harm
$40,000.00 Medium Harm
$50,000.00 High Harm
C Enhanced Payment: Class Members who suffer or suffered from PTSD or other diagnosed mental injuries, or physical injuries arising from sexual assault or sexual harassment for which, for CAF Class Members, VAC benefits have been applied for and denied and/or have sought reconsideration and been denied. $50,000.00 Low Harm
$75,000.00 Medium Harm
$100,000.00 High Harm
6. Can I apply for all categories for financial compensation?

If you are a Class Member, you may submit a claim under Category A, either Category B1 or B2 (but not both) and Category C.

7. What are the changes to Veterans Affairs Canada’s (VAC) policies?

Veterans Affairs Canada (“VAC”) has updated several policies to clarify its approach to claims for disability arising in whole or in part from sexual assault and harassment connected to military service.

The changes that have been made to VAC’s policies relating to injuries arising from service, which include clarification that:

  1. the occurrence of sexual trauma may be established on the basis of the claimant’s own evidence, without the need for corroborating evidence; and
  2. a claim for sexual trauma will not be rejected solely on the basis that it occurred off CAF property or at an event that the claimant was not required to attend.

POLICY CLARIFICATION - CLAIMS FOR DISABILITY BENEFITS INVOLVING MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA

As a result of the settlement of the CAF-DND Sexual Misconduct class action, VAC has updated the three (3) policies to provide clarifications regarding the revised approach taken by VAC in recent years when adjudicating applications for disability benefits involving claims of Military Sexual Trauma (Sexual Trauma), which is defined by VAC as including sexual assault or sexual harassment.

These policies include the following changes:

  1. Clarification that, when determining a claim for benefits involving an injury or disease resulting from sexual trauma, the occurrence of the sexual trauma may be established on the basis of the claimant’s own testimony; and,
  2. Additional clarification that, for the purposes of determining a claim for benefits, an injury or disease resulting from an incident of sexual trauma involving CAF members will not be rejected solely on the basis that it occurred off CAF property or at an event that the claimant was not required to attend. It is acknowledged that each decision as to whether or not an injury or disease is connected to military service is made by VAC having regard to all relevant contextual evidentiary factors.

The specific changes are in the following policies:

  1. Disability Benefits in Respect of Peacetime Military Service - The Compensation Principle
  2. Disability Benefits in Respect of Wartime and Special Duty Service – The Insurance Principle
  3. Benefit of Doubt

VAC has also updated its internal “Adjudication Manual” to reflect and facilitate these policy clarifications.

8. What are the available options for reconsideration and review of past VAC decisions?

Veterans and CAF members who applied for disability benefits and received an unfavorable decision prior to April 3, 2017 (the date VAC last revised its approach to these cases) are encouraged to identify themselves to VAC or, where possible, submit an application for departmental review to VAC.

Where possible VAC will review these decisions, taking into account the revised approach for adjudicating applications for disability benefits involving claims of sexual trauma. VAC is able to revisit past decisions in the following limited circumstances:

  • Where the initial decision contains an error with respect to a finding of fact, or the interpretation of any law (including where a decision is contrary to the revised approach), and Veterans Affairs Canada’s decision has not been reviewed by the Veterans Review and Appeal Board (VRAB);
  • On application, where new evidence is provided in support of the claim (note that for disability award entitlement decisions, there is a limit of one such application for departmental review), and VAC’s decision has not been reviewed by the VRAB;
  • If VAC’s decision has been reviewed by the VRAB, where the applicant has obtained the VRAB’s permission to return the application to VAC.
  • Where the Entitlement Review Panel of the VRAB refers the matter back to the Minister for reconsideration
9. Do I need to submit a claim in order to seek to participate in the Restorative Engagement program?

Yes. If you are a Class Member, you will have to complete an Individual Application/Claim Form and send it to the Claims Administrator during the claims period starting May 25, 2020, and ending no later than November 24, 2021.

10. What do I need to do now?

If you wish to receive benefits and/or seek to participate in the restorative engagement program, you may submit a claim. The period to submit a claim is from May 25, 2020 until no later than November 24, 2021. You must submit your claim no later than November 24, 2021 via online, mail or email.

You may also do nothing. If you did not opt out and do not submit a claim, you will not receive any benefits from the Settlement and you will have given up the right to sue Canada or others on your own or bring a Human Rights complaint in relation to any sexual harassment, sexual assault or discrimination you experienced while serving in the military or as a DND/SNPF employee.

11. How do I submit a claim?

In order to submit a claim for financial compensation, and/or seek to participate in the restorative engagement program, you must submit an Individual Application/Claim Form together with all supporting documentation to the Claims Administrator starting on May 25, 2020 and no later than November 24, 2021.

You can submit your Claim Form:

  1. Online – Click here to review and complete the online claim form - it’s fast, easy and secure. Your online claim form needs to be submitted no later than November 24, 2021.
  2. By Mail or Email – Download and print the Claim Form from the Documents tab and send it to the Claims Administrator no later than November 24, 2021 by mail or email to:

    Epiq Class Action Services Canada Inc.
    Attention: CAF-DND Sexual Misconduct Class Action Settlement
    P.O. Box 507 STN B
    Ottawa ON K1P 5P6
    Email: info@caf-dndsexualmisconductclassaction.ca
    Tel: 1-888-626-2611
    TTY: 1-877-627-7027
    Fax: 1-866-262-0816

Please contact the Claims Administrator if you would like to request that a Claim Form be sent to you by mail, email or fax.

12. How will my compensation be calculated?

Your payment will depend on the type of Sexual Misconduct you experienced in connection with your military service and/or DND/SNPF employment and an assessment of the harm you suffered. It will also depend on how many Class Members submit claims.

The range of individual compensation for most Class Members could be between five thousand dollars ($5,000.00 CAD) and fifty-five thousand dollars ($55,000.00 CAD).

Class Members who experienced exceptional harm (and in the case of those who are denied VAC benefits in respect of that harm, including those who have previously been denied VAC benefits in respect of that harm and whose application for reconsideration is also denied), may be eligible for amounts up to one hundred and fifty-five thousand dollars ($155,000.00 CAD). Details are explained in the settlement agreement. A copy of the agreement is available here.

Total Amount available for Individual Compensation for CAF Class

The total amount payable by Canada in respect of individual compensation in respect of the CAF Class is limited to the sum of all Individual Payments assessed as payable to Eligible Class Members as defined in the settlement agreement, and shall not in any circumstances exceed the sum of eight hundred million dollars ($800,000,000.00 CAD) (“Aggregate Compensation Cap – CAF Class”).

Total Amount available for Individual Compensation for DND/SNPF Class

The total amount payable by Canada in respect of individual compensation in respect of the DND/SNPF Class is limited to the sum of all Individual Payments assessed as payable to Eligible Class Members as defined in the settlement agreement, and shall not in any circumstances exceed the sum of one hundred million dollars ($100,000,000.00 CAD) (“Aggregate Compensation Cap – DND/SNPF Class”).

13. What if I don’t agree with the settlement agreement or Class Counsel fees or disbursements?

The settlement agreement was approved by the Federal Court following the Settlement Approval Hearings held on September 19, 2019, September 20, 2019 and October 3, 2019.

The deadline to object to the settlement was August 30, 2019.

14. What if I do not want to participate in the settlement?

The deadline to opt out of the settlement was February 24, 2020.

15. Do I have a lawyer in the case?

Yes. The following law firms represent you and other Class Members in the class action.

The lawyers for the Plaintiffs (Class Counsel) are:

Koskie Minsky LLP
Attention: CAF-DND Sexual Misconduct Class Action Settlement
900–20 Queen Street West
Toronto ON M5H 3R3

Jonathan Ptak

Nathalie Gondek

Raven, Cameron, Ballantyne & Yazbeck LLP
Attention: CAF-DND Sexual Misconduct Class Action Settlement
220 Laurier Ave West Suite 1600
Ottawa ON K1P 5Z9

Andrew Raven

Andrew Astritis

Amanda Montague-Reinholdt

Wagners of Halifax, Nova Scotia
Attention: CAF-DND Sexual Misconduct Class Action Settlement
1869 Upper Water St, Suite PH 301 3rd Floor, Pontac House Historic Properties
Halifax NS B3J 1S9

Raymond F. Wagner Q.C.

Maddy Carter

Kate Boyle

Acheson Sweeney Foley Sahota LLP of Victoria, British Columbia
Attention: CAF-DND Sexual Misconduct Class Action Settlement
300-376 Harbour Road
Victoria BC V9A 3S1

Rajinder Sahota

Patrick Dudding

Quessy Henry St-Hilaire, avocats of Quebec City, Quebec.
Attention: CAF-DND Sexual Misconduct Class Action Settlement
1415 Frank-Carrel Street Office 201
Québec QC G1N 4N7

Jean-Daniel Quessy

Simon St-Gelais

16. How will the lawyers be paid?

As part of the settlement, Canada agreed to pay Class Counsel’s legal fees in the amount of $26.56 million CAD, plus reasonable disbursements and applicable tax. The Federal Court determined that the legal fees are fair and reasonable. These amounts will be paid directly by Canada and will not be deducted from any amounts that eligible Class Members may receive.

17. How do I obtain more information?

You can obtain more information about this class action by contacting the Court appointed Claims Administrator:

Epiq Class Action Services Canada Inc.
Attention: CAF-DND Sexual Misconduct Class Action Settlement
P.O. Box 507 STN B
Ottawa ON K1P 5P6
Email: info@caf-dndsexualmisconductclassaction.ca
Tel: 1-888-626-2611
TTY: 1-877-627-7027
Fax: 1-866-262-0816

You may also seek legal advice from the lawyers for the Class Members concerning the settlement and your claim at any time at no cost to you.