Aboriginals and Ottawa reach a USD 8 billion settlement agreement on drinking water consultation

Proposed settlement agreement Indigenous people living under drinking water consultation have filed two national class action lawsuits against the federal government for nearly 8 billion U.S. dollars.

The settlement, which is awaiting approval by the court, will provide $1.5 billion in compensation to individuals deprived of clean drinking water and modernize Canada’s aboriginal drinking water legislation.

Approximately 142,000 people from 258 indigenous people and 120 indigenous people can receive compensation. Depending on the details of the final agreement, more people may be eligible for compensation.

Individual compensation will be calculated based on the remoteness of their community, the amount of time they have lived under drinking water consultation, and whether they suffer from any adverse health conditions as a result.

The proposal also requires the federal government to recommit to cancel all long-term drinking water recommendations on reserves.

Indigenous Services Minister Mark Miller announced the agreement at a press conference today. Curve Lake aboriginal chief Emily Whetung, Tataskweyak Cree Nation chief Doreen Spence and Neskantaga aboriginal chief Wayne Moonias also joined him.

Miller told CBC News that the government is happy to avoid court battles.

“We don’t want to go to court. We’ve said it again and again,” he said.

“Yes, this is a lot of money, but it reflects the unfinished commitment to bring water into the community so far.”

Indigenous Services Minister Mark Miller announced the details of the proposed settlement at a press conference on Friday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canada Press)

If Ottawa does not fulfill its commitments under the settlement agreement, the terms of the agreement stipulate that Indigenous people will be able to switch to a new alternative dispute mechanism, but a strict timetable has not yet been set.

The proposal would make the federal government commit at least $6 billion in previously announced funding Provide reliable and safe drinking water in protected areas, create a Safe Drinking Water Aboriginal Advisory Committee, support Aboriginal efforts to develop their own drinking water laws and initiatives, and make Ottawa responsible for private water supply systems such as wells.

The proposal will also establish a new $400 million First Nations Economic and Cultural Recovery Fund.

Miller announced in December last year that the Liberal government would not be able to achieve its goal of canceling all long-term drinking water reserve recommendations before the end of March 2021.

A CBC survey in October last year found that some drinking water projects will take several years to complete.

According to the Canadian Indigenous Services Department, currently, 32 Aboriginals have 51 long-term drinking water recommendations.

The lead lawyers of the two lawsuits stated that the agreement was the product of months of negotiations with the government.

Michael Rosenberg, a partner at McCarthy Law Firm, said: “We are able to reach an agreement that I think is historically significant, which will provide compensation for past mistakes and resolve future problems to ensure that it is different from the past. .” Tétrault.

“The goal here is that long-term drinking water consultations in the Aboriginal Reserve will become -Has become a thing of the past. “

Lawsuit alleges government negligence

These lawsuits allege that Canada failed to ensure clean water reserves, thereby violating its obligations to indigenous people and their members.

They also accused Canada of negligence and violation of its fiduciary duties and charter rights.

The lawsuits were initiated by McCarthy Tétrault LLP on behalf of Tataskweyak Cree Nation in Manitoba and Curve Lake First Nation and Neskantaga First Nation in Ontario. Olthuis Kleer Townshend LLP.

This class includes all Aboriginal members in their communities who have received drinking water warnings, including drinking water warnings, no-drink warnings, and no-use warnings that lasted for at least one year from November 20, 1995 to the present.

Before the lawsuit begins, class members must be alive for two years to be eligible for compensation. Communities can choose to participate in class actions to advance their rights.

The Governor of Ontario is satisfied with the settlement agreement

Whetung said she was satisfied with the settlement agreement.

“I think the entire agreement does meet the needs of aboriginal people across Canada. It aims to do this, especially to ensure that every community has access to clean water,” she told CBC News. “People recognize that individuals are hurt by not having access to clean water.”

Although the details of the dispute mechanism have yet to be worked out, Huitong said that she believes it will be effective.

Emily Whetung, head of Curve Lake First Nation, said she believes the agreement will help ensure that every community has access to clean water. (Olivia Stefanovic/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

“If there are problems, there will be a really clear process to advance these conflicts and disputes quickly and effectively,” she said.

“I think we have really started the journey of giving our communities meaningful clean water.”

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