Nearly 19,000 claims filed in Canadian military sexual misconduct prosecutions

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Almost 19,000 Canadian Armed Forces and Defense Department personnel have filed claims in the settlement of class action lawsuits against the federal government for sexual misconduct in the military.

As of Wednesday’s deadline, 18,796 claims had been filed by current and former CAF and DND employees.

Of these, 5,055 have already been approved for upfront payment or have been paid.

About 57% of applicants are women, 42% are men and 1% identify as other.

Almost 33% of all complaints were submitted this month alone.

The CAF has been rocked by a crisis of sexual misconduct this year, with current and former senior leaders being investigated or charged.

The federal government has faced strong criticism for failing to get the problem under control. New Defense Minister Anita Anand has said dealing with the crisis is her top priority.

The settlement was approved by the Federal Court in 2019 following class actions brought against the federal government in 2016 and 2017. These lawsuits alleged sexual harassment, sexual assault and discrimination in the Canadian Forces and in the Department of Justice. Defense.

The settlement provides for compensation of up to $ 155,000, changes to military affairs and veterans policies, and the opportunity for survivors of sexual misconduct to participate in a restorative engagement, during which they can share their experiences. with senior officials.

More than 4,800 claimants have requested a remedial commitment.

While not part of the settlement agreement, one of the lawyers who brought the lawsuits said the federal government also indicated in court that it would apologize.

“It has been more than two years since this promise was made and an apology should be made as soon as possible,” Jonathan Ptak said in an email.

Anand’s office said an apology would be issued before the end of the year and that survivor groups were being consulted about it.

The deadline for submitting a claim is now over, but Ptak said class members can request an extension based on exceptional personal circumstances.

It is important to recognize that sexual misconduct in the Canadian military “is always something that happens – it is not something that happened in the past and is now resolved,” said Colten Skibinsky , who made a successful claim.

Skibinsky shared his story with the Star about being sexually assaulted while serving in the military in 2013. He said the high percentage of male complaints shows that the problem isn’t just a problem. problem of women.

“I think anyone who says it’s a women’s problem specifically is wrong and it’s almost an attempt to discredit the true nature of the problem,” he said.

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