OTTAWA – The federal government, Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces will deliver a formal apology today to victims of military sexual misconduct.
The apology was first promised in 2019 as part of a $600-million settlement deal with current and former service members in several class-action lawsuits.
The apology will come in three parts with Defence Minister Anita Anand speaking on behalf of the government.
Chief of the defence staff Gen. Wayne Eyre will apologize for the military while National Defence deputy minister Jody Thomas will do the same for the department.
Officials had previously said they were hoping for an in-person event, but the Defence Department says today’s apology will be delivered virtually and streamed online because of COVID-19.
The apology comes as the Liberal government and military leadership struggle with a rash of allegations of sexual misconduct involving senior officers.
The government had faced calls from the Royal Canadian Legion and others to deliver the apology before the 18-month window for victims to submit their claims as part of the settlement closed last month.
Nearly 19,000 claims were submitted before the claims period ended on Nov. 24, though Jonathan Ptak, a lawyer representing the victims in some of the six overlapping lawsuits, says victims can still submit applications.
“While the deadline to file was Nov. 24, the settlement administrator has discretion to extend this deadline by 60 days (until Jan. 23, 2022) due to exceptional circumstances, or due to a claimant’s disability,” Ptak said in an email.
“To date, many late claims have been accepted for consideration.”
More than 5,300 claims have already been approved for payment while nearly 4,900 have also asked to participate in “restorative engagement.”