Manitoba’s historic class action lawsuits leads to $530 million for children in care

Manitoba Children in care. Image credit: Unsplash/ Yannis H

Winnipeg/CMEDIA: Payment of $530 million has reportedly been agreed by the Manitoba government over the province’s actions and policies of Manitobato children in care relating to the administration of Children’s Special Allowances (CSA), from Child and Family Services (CFS) agencies between 2005 and 2019.    

With Manitoba’s belief that every child matters, Manitoba’s Families Minister Nahanni Fontaine was reported saying that this agreement is an important step forward and  exemplifies Manitoba’s prioritizing reconciliation through action.

Damages for Manitoba’s breach of the Charter rights of vulnerable children had been sought by three certified class action lawsuits to compensate the affected children, cover legal fees and administer funds to class members.

Subject to court approval, this historic settlement is not only a significant step forward in rectifying the discrimination endured by vulnerable children in care, through the creation of a resolution fundit, but will also compensate every child affected by the CSA policy including interest and additional monies for other damages and costs.  

 In accordance with the federal legislation, CSA payments made to CFS Agencies as an equivalent to the Canada Child Benefit received by parents in Manitoba, CSA benefits need to be used exclusively for care, education, training and advancement of children in care.

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.

Responding to legal challenges, the Manitoba government passed legislation in 2020 the province was exempted  from any legal responsibility.

Following this legislation, a constitutional legal challenge led to a 2022 decision by the Court of the King’s Bench that already-significant disadvantages children in care were exacerbated by Manitoba’s CSA policy and related legislation was a breach of their Charter rights to be free from discrimination.