Semaganis Worme Lombard

Coerced / Forced Sterilization - Class Action: History

General Information

In 2015, media reports surfaced indicating that many Aboriginal women were coerced into having tubal ligations in Saskatchewan. In July of 2017, in response to the allegations of forced sterilization, the then Saskatoon Health Region (now the Saskatchewan Health Authority) released a Review titled – External Review: Tubal Ligation in the Saskatoon Health Region: The Lived Experience of Aboriginal Women. The Report highlighted “pervasive systemic racism” in the health care system and detailed the experiences of Aboriginal women from Saskatoon and surrounding areas, who had reported being coerced into having tubal ligations.

The representative class action plaintiffs, M.R.L.P and S.A.T, are represented by Alisa R. Lombard. A proposed class action was commenced against all health regions across the Province of Saskatchewan, the Federal Government, the Saskatchewan Government, as well as individual medical professionals. The further Amended Statement of Claim alleges that the Defendants:

  • breached common law duties owed to the plaintiffs, the torts of battery of a sexual nature, trespass against the person of a sexual nature, false imprisonment, negligence and negligent misrepresentation;
  • breach of contract and breach of fiduciary obligations owed to the Aboriginal women plaintiffs; and
  • breach of the plaintiff’s Charter rights, including violations of the right to the freedom of conscience, belief and religion, violation of the right to life, liberty and security of the person, the right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual treatment; and violation of the right to access health care services free from discrimination based on race and gender.

The Notice of Application for Certification and supporting materials were filed in February, 2018.

Litigation and Advocacy Update

18/01/2018

Justice G.M. Currie of the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench is designated by Chief Justice Popescul to consider the certification application under section 4(2) of The Class Actions Act, SS 2001, c C-12.01

16/02/2018

Class Counsel applied to the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench to certify the action as a class action.

12/04/2018

Class Counsel filed an amended application for certification to the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench.

25/05/2018

The Saskatchewan Health Authority and the Named Doctors applied to the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench seeking a Court Order for the:

  • Production of documents;
  • Proposed representative plaintiffs to attend a cross- examination on their affidavits in support for certification; and
  • Disclosure of the identities on a continuing basis of any putative class members.
25/05/2018

The Government of Saskatchewan applied to the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench to cross-examine the proposed representative plaintiffs on their affidavits filed in support for certification on similar terms as the Saskatchewan Health Authority and the Named Doctors.

01/06/2018

The Attorney General of Canada applied to the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench to cross-examine the proposed representative plaintiffs on their affidavits filed in support for certification on similar terms as the Saskatchewan Health Authority and the Named Doctors.

01/06/2018

Class Counsel filed the Affidavit of M.R.L.P dated June 1, 2018 setting out the protocol to govern the conduct of a cross-examination for the proposed representative plaintiffs.

04/06/2018

The Saskatchewan Health Authority and the Named Doctors jointly applied to the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench for an order to strike out the Affidavit of M.R.L.P date June 1, 2018.

05/06/2018

The Saskatchewan Health Authority, the Named Doctors and the Government of Saskatchewan filed a notice of objection for the Affidavit of Dr. Karen Stote dated February 5, 2018 (the Plaintiffs’ expert witness). 

05/06/2018

The Saskatchewan Health Authority and the Named Doctors filed a brief of law in support of their application dated May 25, 2018. 

06/06/2018

Class Counsel filed a brief of law to support their position that:

  • Procedural accommodations governing the cross-examinations of the proposed representative plaintiffs are necessary;
  • The scope for production of documents of the proposed representative plaintiffs ought to be narrowed; and,
  • The disclosure of the identities on a continuing basis of any putative class members is unnecessary and a breach of the women’s right to privacy at this stage in the putative class action.
08/06/2018

The Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench heard oral arguments concerning the defendants’ aforementioned applications.

19/09/2018

Justice Currie issued his decision concerning the various applications concerning disclosure and the cross-examination of the proposed representative plaintiffs. The general outcome of the decision is as follows: 

  • Parts of M.R.L.P’s Affidavit of June 1, 2018 were struck;
  • Within 60 days of receiving document disclosure or as otherwise agreed, the proposed representative plaintiffs will be cross-examined on their affidavits by the defendants’ counsel without procedural accommodations but “with respect and, as much as is possible in the circumstances, with sensitivity”;
  • The proposed representative plaintiffs must produce all medical and pharmaceutical records to the defendants provided to their Class Counsel;
  • The proposed representative plaintiffs must provide authorizations for defendants to access printouts of medical services provided to the proposed representative plaintiffs from 9 months prior to the birth of the proposed representative plaintiffs’ first children to the present;
  • Upon request of the defendants’ counsel, the proposed representative plaintiffs must additionally authorize defendants to obtain copies of medical records not in the possession of the Class Counsel covering the period in (3) above;
  • Upon receipt of medical records in (5), the defendants will provide copies of such documents to Class Counsel; and,
  • Class Counsel does not have to disclose the identities of potential class members.
22/11/2018

Class Counsel attended at the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) in Geneva, Switzerland to inform the Committee of the ongoing forced and coerced sterilization of Indigenous women in Canada. The Committee subsequently made recommendations to Canada and called for its report on efforts to implement its recommendations no later than December 7, 2019.

19/03/2019

Class Counsel presented at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women side panel on “Preventing and Redressing Forced Sterilization of Marginalized Women: Comparative Views” in New York City.

03/04/2019
13/06/2019

Class Counsel appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health in Ottawa, Ontario.

17/06/2019

Class Counsel filed a class action in relation to the coerced/forced sterilization of Indigenous women and girls in Manitoba on behalf of the proposed representative plaintiffs, P.D.I. and S.D.P., with the Court of Queen’s Bench for Manitoba against all health authorities in the province, the Federal Government, the Manitoban Government, The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba, The College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba, St. Boniface Hospital, as well as individual medical professionals. The Statement of Claim alleges that the Defendants:

  • breached common law duties owed to the plaintiffs, the torts of battery of a sexual nature, trespass against the person of a sexual nature, false imprisonment, negligence and negligent misrepresentation;
  • breach of contract and breach of fiduciary obligations owed to the Aboriginal women plaintiffs; and
  • breach of the plaintiff’s Charter rights, including violations of the right to the freedom of conscience, belief and religion, violation of the right to life, liberty and security of the person, the right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual treatment; and violation of the right to access health care services free from discrimination based on race and gender.
29/08/2019

Justice D. Kroft of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba is assigned by Chief Justice Joyal to assist in the conduct of the class proceeding under paragraph 12 of The Class Proceedings Act, CCSM, c C130.

29/08/2019

Class Counsel applied to the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench seeking a Court Order for the:

  • Adding of D.D.S. as a plaintiff, and extending the publication ban to her;
  • Adding another doctor, The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan and The Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association as defendants;
  • Permitting of the filing of amended statement of claim, and an amended application for certification and affidavits of M.R.L.P. and S.A.T.;
  • The filing of the affidavit of D.D.S. in support of the certification application; and
  • The extension of the same relief to the defendants further to Justice G.M. Currie’s Fiat of September 19, 2018 and order dated August 20, 2019 to D.D.S.
01/11/2019

Order on Consent by Justice G.M. Currie of the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench issued:

  • Adding D.D.S. as a plaintiff;
  • Adding the doctor as a defendant; and
  • Allowing leave to file amended pleadings and amended affidavits.
07/11/2019

Class Counsel attended the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ Forum in Quito, Ecuador to present the testimonies and efforts of Indigenous women in Canada to prevent and punish the practice of forced sterilization, and to seek reparations and accountability for the victims. Presentations were made alongside survivors of the practice who visited from Peru.

18/11/2019

Amended pleadings and affidavits filed by Class Counsel to the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench.

28/11/2019

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan filed a brief of law opposing the application to add them as defendants as disclosing no reasonable cause of action against them.

04/12/2019

The Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association filed a brief of law opposing the application to add them as defendants as disclosing no reasonable cause of action against them.

04/12/2019

Class Counsel filed a brief of law to support the application to add The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan and The Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association as defendants to the action and consequential amendments resulting if the application is successful.

06/12/2019

Hearing before Justice G.M. Currie of the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench to add the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association as defendants.

07/12/2019

DEADLINE LAPSED: Canada failed to provide their response to UNCAT’s request for information on what steps have been taken to address UNCAT’s recommendations on the involuntary sterilization of Indigenous women. Canada’s report on Follow-up to Concluding Observations is listed as “Pending” on the United Nations website.

28/01/2020

Class Counsel along with M. Mercredi delivered keynote address to the Culturally Informed Choice and Consent in Indigenous Women’s Health Services Conference in Ottawa, Ontario.

Media Coverage

There has been extensive media coverage of the class action and its public importance.

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Semaganis Worme Lombard Barristers & Attorneys-At-Law
150 - 103C Packham Avenue, Saskatoon, Sk S7N 4K4
 +1 (306) 664-7175
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Semaganis Worme Lombard strives to be a service and people oriented practice dedicated to providing a high caliber and comprehensive range of legal services to Indigenous people and entities, and First Nations. Our Firm possesses the collective policy and legal expertise and capacity to advise a clientele that spans the country. Our practice currently includes: aboriginal law, administrative law, comprehensive and specific claims, constitutional law, criminal litigation, fiduciary law, human rights, indigenous governance, international law and trusts law. We engage in litigation, negotiation, dispute resolution, class actions and other related and complementary services and other professional activities that meet the needs of our clientele.

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