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Federal Court certifies class-action lawsuit against military over mental health

May 22, 2024  By The Canadian Press


The Federal Court has certified another class-action lawsuit against the military, filed by a man who says he faced discrimination because of his mental health. The facade of the headquarters of the Department of National Defence is pictured in Ottawa, on April 3, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The Federal Court has certified another class-action lawsuit against the Canadian Armed Forces filed by a man who says he faced discrimination and stigmatization because of his mental health.

Dan Thomas will represent plaintiffs who allege their mental-health conditions worsened during their military service as a result of stigmatization.

Thomas’s statement of claim says he was physically injured during his army service and then diagnosed with PTSD and depression.

After being discharged in 1986, the document says Thomas sought compensation from Veterans Affairs, saying harassment in his chain of command worsened his mental health.

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The document goes on to allege that Veterans Affairs denied that claim and said he got the full disability entitlement for his earlier mental-health claim.

The Federal Court is allowing the class-action suit to include current and former military members who served as far back as 1986.

People who are eligible to join the claim have been diagnosed with a mental-health disorder “and allege they were subjected to non-sexual and non-racial discrimination, bullying, stigmatization, harassment and/or abuse” during their service.

The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages arising from “systemic negligence by the (Armed Forces) in breaching its duty of care to members.”

It also alleges the military discriminated against the claimants on the basis of their disability by failing to accommodate them, violating their Section 15 Charter rights.

None of the claims have been tested in court.

The Canadian Armed Forces has been the subject of multiple class-action lawsuits over sexual misconduct, racism and discrimination against LGBTQ+ members.

The Federal Court is expected to hold a settlement hearing in July related to a $150-million class-action brought by members who experienced racial discrimination or harassment during their service.

The federal government has not admitted liability but has agreed to a proposed settlement that would provide class members with up to $35,000 in compensation.

In 2019, the government agreed to a $900-million settlement with veterans and military members who experienced sexual misconduct. So far, more than 23,000 people have received compensation.

Survivors of the LGBTQ Purge settled with the government in 2018 for $145 million.

The Federal Court also approved an $817-million settlement earlier this year with veterans whose disability pensions were not properly calculated.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 21, 2024.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2023

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