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Federal Court approves $900M deal to settle Canadian military sexual assault, harassment cases

Click to play video 'Federal court approves $900M settlement for CAF sexual misconduct victims' Federal court approves $900M settlement for CAF sexual misconduct victims
WATCH: Federal court approves $900M settlement for CAF sexual misconduct victims – Nov 25, 2019

The Federal Court has approved a $900-million agreement that will settle multiple class-action lawsuits by survivors of sexual harassment and assault in the military.

The federal government agreed in July to pay $800 million for members of the Canadian Armed Forces and $100 million for another class of employees of the Department of National Defence to settle six overlapping cases filed in recent years.

READ MORE: Feds agree to $900M settlement over military sexual misconduct class action

The lawsuits made claims about sexual harassment, gender discrimination and sexual assault.

The Liberals began by fighting the lawsuits in late 2017, but reversed course weeks later in early 2018 to begin settlement talks.

The judgment released Monday afternoon says most, but not all, of the members of the classes in the lawsuits wanted the deal approved by the court.

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Click to play video 'Halifax woman hopes harassment culture changes after military federal settlement' Halifax woman hopes harassment culture changes after military federal settlement
Halifax woman hopes harassment culture changes after military federal settlement – Jul 19, 2019

In his ruling, Judge Simon Fothergill agreed the settlement should be approved, but wrote that such a deal is “inevitably a compromise” that is “unlikely to give all parties precisely what they want.”

In a statement Monday, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said the government is “pleased to see this settlement move forward” and that “no one should feel unsafe at work.”

“It is an important part of ongoing culture change efforts that are not only focused on the CAF, but reach across the Defence Team and our entire workplace,” Sajjan said.

“We are committed to implementing a culture change in our workplace because no one should feel unsafe at work.”

READ MORE: Military making little progress in eradicating sexual misconduct: survey

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Sajjan said that Monday’s outcome “will build on some of the essential work we have already begun including Operation HONOUR, reviewing cases previously deemed unfounded and passing Bill C-77, which puts survivors at the core of the military justice system.”

“We will continue to learn from these survivors as we take steps to achieve lasting and positive change,” he said in the statement.

In July, when the settlement was announced, lawsuit members were told they would be eligible for between $5,000 and $55,000.

READ MORE: Canadian military not doing enough to fix sexual misconduct problem: AG report

A further $100,000 each could go to people subjected to exceptional harm, such as those who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder from the way they were treated and were denied benefits for the related disability.

The settlement also calls for an external review of existing anti-harassment programs and revisions to how the government deals with disability benefits for survivors of sexual assault or harassment.

Click to play video 'Liberals agree to settlement over military sexual misconduct class action' Liberals agree to settlement over military sexual misconduct class action
Liberals agree to settlement over military sexual misconduct class action – Jul 18, 2019

— With files by Global News staff

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