FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 25, 2024

WINNIPEG, MB — Manitoba has agreed in principle to pay $530 million to children in care over
Manitoba’s actions and policies relating to the administration of Children’s Special Allowances
(CSA) from Child and Family Service (CFS) agencies between 2005 and 2019.
Three certified class actions sought damages for Manitoba’s breach of the Charter rights of
vulnerable children. The settlement aims to compensate the affected children, cover legal fees,
and administer funds to class members.

Subject to Court approval, this historic settlement is a significant step forward in rectifying the
discrimination endured by vulnerable children in care. This settlement will compensate every child
affected by the CSA policy, including interest and additional monies for other damages and costs
through the creation of a resolution fund.

According to federal legislation, CSA payments are made to CFS Agencies as an equivalent to
the Canada Child Benefit received by parents in Manitoba. CSA benefits are to be used
exclusively for care, education, training, and advancement of children in care.
Instead, over the course of 14 years Manitoba required CFS agencies to remit over $335 million
of the federal CSA payments back to Manitoba’s general revenue fund.

In response to legal challenges, Manitoba passed legislation in 2020, exempting the province
from any legal responsibility. This legislation prompted a constitutional legal challenge, leading to
a 2022 decision by the Court of the King’s Bench, which found that Manitoba’s CSA policy and
related legislation exacerbated the already significant disadvantages experienced by children in
care, and was a breach of their Charter rights to be free from discrimination.

Media Availability:
Representative Plaintiffs Elsie Flette and Trudy Lavallee will have media availability on Monday,
March 25, 2024 from 12:00P.M. to 2:00P.M. at the law office of Cochrane Saxberg LLP: 201-
211 Bannatyne Ave, Winnipeg, MB R3B 3P2.

Quotes:
“The settlement agreement on the CSA is long overdue,” said Manitoba Keewatinowi
Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) Grand Chief Garrison Settee. “Finally, First Nations children in the
care of the CFS system who were denied a benefit by the government, will be compensated not
just for the loss of benefits they were rightfully entitled to but for the terrible loss of opportunity the
CSA was intended to provide. Since it was first implemented, the MKO Chiefs have repeatedly
voiced their vehement opposition to the CSA policy and they have continued to advocate and
lobby for restitution.”

“The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs commends the plaintiffs, representatives, and First Nations
leadership for their dedication, which has been instrumental in achieving justice for First Nations
children and families affected by the province’s discriminatory claw back of the Children’s Special
Allowance. This settlement represents a significant victory, unequivocally holding the province
accountable for its unjust targeting of vulnerable children. While progress has been made, AMC’s
commitment to the welfare of First Nations children remains steadfast. As we support individual
compensation for families, we also call on Manitoba to take immediate steps to acknowledge and
compensate for the harm suffered by First Nations who lost many children to this discriminatory
system. We will continue to advocate for the restoration of First Nations jurisdiction by pursuing a
tripartite process with Manitoba and Canada to fully implement the recommendations of the
Aboriginal Justice Inquiry as identified in Call for Justice 5.1 of the MMIWG National Inquiry” –
says Grand Chief Cathy Merrick of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.

“This sets a clear precedent that systemic and historic injustices against First Nations children
such as this cannot go unchecked,” says Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) Grand Chief
Jerry Daniels. “It reaffirms the commitment of the Chiefs of the southern First Nations to continue
fighting for equality and fairness for our people, and especially our children, in every aspect of the
law.”
“Our government believes that every child matters and this agreement is an important step
forward. This money was supposed to be used for the advancement for some of the most
vulnerable children in our society, and it was taken from them. This settlement is an example of
how our government is prioritizing reconciliation through action” – says the Hon. Nahanni
Fontaine, Minister of Families.

“The recent settlement marks a significant triumph for First Nation and Métis children in Manitoba,”
says the Hon. Murray Sinclair, former Senator, and Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission, and General Counsel at Cochrane Saxberg LLP. “It is a testament to the power of
unity and advocacy in creating positive change for our communities — and a step forward on the
path towards reconciliation.”

“This settlement is a historic victory for the most vulnerable people in this province: our children
in care. It is a reminder to governments that they will be held accountable for their discriminatory
actions, especially when it comes to the welfare of Indigenous children in care” says Elsie Flette,
the former CEO of Southern First Nations Network of Care and a representative plaintiff.

“This is a good day for kids in Manitoba. I am happy that through tireless advocacy, we achieved
a settlement that brings us a step closer to righting the systemic injustices and discrimination the
Government of Manitoba wrought by continually litigating against children in care,” says Trudy
Lavallee, Executive Director at Animikii Ozoson Child and Family Services Agency and a
representative plaintiff of the class action lawsuit.

“Back in 2018 when Peguis CFS, Animikii Ozoson CFS and Sandy Bay CFS initiated the litigation
challenging Manitoba’s theft of CSA funding, this settlement was what we dreamed of. Now that
the settlement has been achieved, the care, maintenance, education and advancement of those
impacted can hopefully be fully realized,” said Louise McCorrister, Board Chairperson of Peguis
Child and Family Services.

“My aunty passed away on the very same day this agreement was reached. Like too many
Anishinaabe mothers, she battled the CFS system. I acknowledge her, as well as her children
who will benefit from this settlement.” – says Representative Plaintiff, Lee Malcolm-Baptiste.

For Background Information, Please Contact:
Kris Saxberg
Class Counsel, Cochrane Saxberg LLP
E: [email protected]
Cell: (204) 330-6423 Office: (204) 925-5353
Jeremy McKay
Class Counsel, DD West LLP
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (204) 975-2535