Courts approve settlement agreement to resolve class action litigation related to safe drinking water in First Nations communities

Press Release

From: Indigenous Services Canada

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December 23, 2021 — Ottawa, Traditional Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada

The Government of Canada is firmly committed to improving reliable access to safe drinking water in First Nations communities.

Yesterday, the Federal Court and the Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba issued a joint decision approving an agreement to settle class-action litigation related to safe drinking water in First Nations communities. An appeals period of approximately 60 days will follow the courts’ approval of the settlement agreement.

The parties welcome the courts’ approval of their settlement agreement, and they look forward to implementing this historic settlement once the appeal period concludes.

The class actions are led by representative plaintiffs Tataskweyak Cree Nation, Curve Lake First Nation and Neskantaga First Nation.

The terms of the settlement agreement were previously announced on July 30, 2021, and include the following:

  • $1.5 billion in compensation for individuals deprived of clean drinking water
  • the creation of a $400 million First Nation Economic and Cultural Restoration Fund
  • a renewed commitment to Canada’s Action Plan for the lifting of all long-term drinking water advisories
  • the creation of a First Nations Advisory Committee on Safe Drinking Water
  • support for First Nations to develop their own safe drinking water by-laws and initiatives
  • a commitment of at least $6 billion to support reliable access to safe drinking water on reserves
  • the planned modernization of Canada’s First Nations drinking water legislation

The Government of Canada will continue to work with all First Nations, including Tataskweyak Cree Nation, Curve Lake First Nation and Neskantaga First Nation, to address water concerns. Together, we will develop sustainable, long-term solutions so that future generations do not have to worry about the safety of their drinking water.

Quick facts

  • Since 2016, the Government of Canada has committed over $5.2 billion to First Nations to build and repair water and wastewater infrastructure and support effective management and maintenance of water systems on reserves.
  • In November 2019, legal action was initiated against Canada in a proposed class action on behalf of all members of First Nations and members resident on reserves that had a drinking water advisory for at least one year since 1995.
  • In May 2020, Indigenous Services Canada consented to the Tataskweyak Cree Nation certification order, as well as the draft litigation plan.
  • On May 29, 2020, Neskantaga First Nation and Chief Christopher Moonias were added as plaintiffs.
  • In September 2020, Canada expressed their consent to certification of the Curve Lake First Nation–Neskantaga First Nation–Tataskweyak Cree Nation proposed class-action litigation.
  • On October 8, 2020, certification of the class action was granted by the court.

Associated links

Contacts

For more information, media may contact:

Andrew MacKendrick
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services
andrew.mackendrick2@sac-isc.gc.ca

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada
819-953-1160
SAC.media.ISC@canada.ca

For more information from counsel for Tataskweyak Cree Nation, Curve Lake First Nation and Neskantaga First Nation, media may contact:

Michael Rosenberg,
Partner
McCarthy Tétrault LLP
416-601-7831
mrosenberg@mccarthy.ca

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