Waterloo firm ordered to reimburse federal government $874,000

By Gordon Paul
Kitchener Post
April 26, 2016

A Waterloo firm that worked as a court-appointed monitor overseeing the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement has been ordered to reimburse the federal government $874,000.

Crawford Class Action Services led a two-year investigation into the conduct of law firm Bronstein & Co. and concluded it did a substandard job representing more than 1,400 people making claims under the agreement.

Last October, British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Brenda Brown ordered Bronstein to reimburse the federal government $1.25 million as "special costs."

Earlier this month, Brown ordered Crawford to reimburse the government $874,000 for "unreasonable or unnecessary amounts" billed to the government for the investigation.

"Payment for unnecessary or redundant tasks could never be reasonably expected …" Brown wrote in her ruling.

She said that is particularly true when a company is getting public funds "in the context of a process intended to address truth, reconciliation and assistance for historical wrongs committed against the aboriginal peoples of this country."

Last October, Brown said Crawford's investigation was worthwhile.

"However, some costs of the investigation went beyond what was expected at the outset and beyond what can be termed reasonable and proportionate at the conclusion," she wrote.

Crawford's role as a court-appointed monitor was to oversee implementation of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. The firm was instructed by the court to investigate Bronstein's practice.

In her ruling this month, Brown provided background on residential schools.

"For over a century, until the program finally ended in 1996, aboriginal children were removed from their families and communities and educated in 'Indian residential schools,' " she wrote.

"The result was generations of aboriginal youth growing up away from their families, language and culture, and many suffering sexual and other forms of abuse. Canada has conceded that the (residential schools) program was a misguided policy, and has formally apologized to Canada's First Nations people for its implementation."

The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement is Canada's commitment to compensate aboriginals affected by the schools.




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