The First Nations Drinking Water Settlement announces that its open claims period has now been extended to March 7, 2023. Individuals and Bands are called on to submit a claim request if they were impacted by a long-term drinking water advisory.
Back in 2019, Olthius Kleer Townshend (OKT) LLP and McCarthy Tetrault LLP filed a class action lawsuit against Canada. The lawsuit was to address the long term drinking water advisories of the Neskantaga First Nation, Curve Lake First Nation, Tataskweyak Cree Nation, and all other First Nations across the country dealing with similar issues.
“We decided that this was a common enough problem across the country, that it warranted a class action,” said Kevin Hille of OKT.
Hille explained that the class action was a better move as it provides a more uniform result when it comes to dealing with the number of similar cases.
“The theory of our case was that Canada owed a duty because of the control it has over First Nations finances and lands,” Hille explained.
“The Government of Canada had essentially controlled water infrastructure on reserves for decades which makes them responsible for the deplorable state of water infrastructures on reserves.”
By December 2021, the courts approved the settlement of $8 billion, between Canada and certain First Nations, which includes Upper Nicola, Lower Nicola, Coldwater, and Nooaitch Indian Bands.
According to the First Nations Drinking Water Settlement website, The $8 billion settlement includes:
- $1.8 billion in compensation to individuals and Impacted First Nations;
- An additional $50 million for eligible individuals who experienced Specified Injuries due to drinking water advisories that lasted at least one year between November 20, 1995, and June 20, 2021;
- $6 billion, by March 31, 2030, to support construction, upgrading, operation, and maintenance of water infrastructure on First Nations land;
- A renewed commitment to Canada’s Action Plan for the lifting of all long-term drinking water advisories;
- Planned modernization of Canada’s First Nations drinking water legislation;
- The creation of a First Nations Advisory Committee on Safe Drinking Water; and
- Support for First Nations to develop their own safe drinking water by-laws and initiatives.
There is an online claims assessment tool that helps individuals understand if they are eligible by answering a few quick questions. To be eligible for compensation individuals must:
- not have passed away before November 20, 2017;
- be a member of a First Nation; and
- have been impacted by a long-term drinking water advisory (boil water, do not consume or do not use) that lasted at least a year between November 20, 1995 and June 20, 2021.
If born before November 20, 1995, the claimant must have ordinarily resided / lived on an Impacted First Nation during a long-term drinking water advisory that lasted continuously for a year or longer, anytime between November 20, 2013 and June 20, 2021.
If born on or after November 20, 1995, the claimant must have ordinarily resided / lived on an Impacted First Nation during a long-term drinking water advisory that lasted continuously for a year or longer, anytime between November 20, 1995 and June 20, 2021.
Impacted First Nations who want to participate in the settlement must submit a Band Council Acceptance Resolution to receive $500,000 from the settlement. The deadline for this submission has been extended to March 7, 2023. They can also submit a Band Council Confirmation List on behalf of their community members, so they do not have to fill out a Claim Form, unless they want to make a claim for Specified Injuries.
For questions about the claims process and assistance with the Claim Form, contact the administrator toll-free at 1-833-252-4220.