The Canadian Press
A proposed class-action suit against Canada’s attorney general, the Saskatchewan government, the province’s health regions and doctors who allegedly coerced Indigenous women to undergo sterilization has been filed in Saskatoon’s Court of Queen’s Bench.
The statement of claim was filed about three months after the Saskatoon Health Region released the findings of a six-month external review into Indigenous women who had a tubal ligation.
A judge needs to sign off on the statement of claim before it moves forward as a class action suit.
The lawsuit, if certified, would seek damages for each plaintiff.
Two women are currently listed as plaintiffs but more women in Saskatchewan could be included if the lawsuit is approved.
The statement of claim states the women’s charter rights, including their right to life, liberty and security and their right to receive health care free of discrimination, were breached.
Other damages listed include future cost of care, punitive or exemplary damages, and general damages for “lost opportunity,” among others.
After the report was released, federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said it was an indication of racism in a health-care system that remains biased against Aboriginal women.
The report was researched and compiled by Yvonne Boyer, a lawyer and a Canada Research Chair at Manitoba’s Brandon University, and Dr. Judith Bartlett, a physician, and researcher.
The report suggested some Indigenous women from Saskatoon and the surrounding area were coerced into having their Fallopian tubes clamped or severed after giving birth in the hospital.
Most of the women who were interviewed for the report either did not recall consenting to the procedure or did so because they were exhausted and too overwhelmed to fight any longer, the researchers found.
In response to the findings, the Saskatoon Health Region said it deeply regrets what happened, acknowledging it failed to treat the women with the respect, compassion, and support they deserve.
More to come.