By Pradip Rodrigues
In Canada today you statistically have a greater chance of becoming a millionaire by filing a successful lawsuits rather than buying a lottery every week.
Anyone can potentially supplement their income in this manner, there is nothing to stop you and plenty of laws to encourage this course of action. Infact some lawyers may argue that it is your duty as a Canadian citizen to sue the system to affect positive change in society. Look around in your daily life, did an employee at a fast food chain mutter some obscenity under her breath when you pointed out she brought you a wrong order Well, in that case your Charter Rights were violated and the incident which caused deep mental anguish to you would require therapy. Find a lawyer and prepare to go on long-term disability or make plans to enjoy a windfall. I exaggerate but this version of a case has either found its way through a court or will make news soon.
Last week a small news report on how much it cost taxpayers to “investigate” and settle an unfortunate incident caught my attention. A senior citizen of York Region District School Board was heard using the N-word against a parent last fall, she didn’t for a minute deny using the word and expressed remorse for ever uttering it in the first place, yet multiple apologies did nothing to placate the parent until she reached a financial settlement that was a few thousand dollars (the actual figure is unknown). As if that wasn’t enough, the board went on to appoint a legal firm to “investigate” whether or not former trustee Nancy Elgie referred to a parent using the n-word, apparently it didn’t matter that Ms Elgie didn’t deny using the N-word in the first place. Total cost, $30,000. Canadians are reaping in amounts ranging in the tens of thousands to millions of dollars for ‘suffering’ at the hands of a private and increasingly public institutions.
Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?
In case you haven’t noticed on any given week, you can find news reports in the media about someone suing an institution for millions of dollars. Former terrorists or one-time suspected terrorists who found themselves in foreign prisons have been awarded tens of millions of dollars for CSIS trampling over their precious Charter Rights and not to mention Human Rights. These sort of payments have emboldened even a failed refugee claimant like one Djamel Ameziane who was deported from Canada, following which he made his way to Afghanistan where he was captured and sent to Guantanamo Bay by the Americans and release years later. He’s been inspired to seek damages of nothing less than $50 million from the federal government claiming Canadian officials shared information with the Americans. And he may not be alone, everyone seems to be on a mission to find fault with government institutions and shake them down for nothing less than a few million dollars. There are more millionaires being created by lawsuits than by the lottery.
Taxpayers Are On The Hook
To understand just how bad things are, consider this, in the 2014-15 fiscal year,taxpayer-funded lawyers successfully got the government to shell out more $711 million in court awards and ex gratia payments, covering a wide range of legal issues. It’s not clear from public documents how much of that is related solely to litigation versus other payables, but the total is $5 billion more than 2015. In 2017 that figure could be mind-boggling.
You know things are really bad when the Federal Liberals start to worry about rising costs. They are so alarmed that they have created a new cabinet committee on litigation management chaired by Dominic LeBlanc. In an interview last August he revealed that the potential liability of the federal government alone for the various 45,000 claims it faces is in the hundreds of billions of dollars.
Yes you heard right, I’ll repeat for effect- hundreds of billions of dollars!
Just about anyone who has to deal with a government agency or public servant is in theory in a position to sue for any perceived slight, poor or delayed service.
Failed asylum-seekers who deliberately mislead the authorities about their home countries end up causing their own extended periods of detention and manufacturer a crisis designed to appall Canadians are in line busy preparing to launch multi-million lawsuits because their Charter Rights were violated.
CSIS the spy agency is being sued by not just suspected terrorists but by five of their own employees who accuse the agency of Islamophobia, racism and homophobia. The ‘trauma’ they’ve suffered is worth a $35-million lawsuit. Apparently their lives have been destroyed by officers who made insensitive remarks.
Hospitals have more and more lawyers working overtime trying to defend and settle more lawsuits than ever before. Families of patients simply have to suspect a mistake or a mid-diagnosis and there will be a lawyer ready to take up a noble cause and sue for millions of dollars. So a Toronto woman who recently died from cancer after doctors at Trillium Hospitals failed to detect a tumour in her heart are well on their way to drafting a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the hospital.
The family of a man who committed suicide while he was supposed to be under close medical observation has filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the hospital where he died.
Shady Lawyers Are In Short Supply
Private and Crown corporations are busy lawyering up and there may actually be a shortage of good lawyers in the market. This is quite possibly the best time to be a lawyer because it is obvious that a public law litigation boom in Canada currently underway with no end in sight.
Schools, hospitals, government agencies and departments are finding themselves with ever increasing legal bills.
While every other claim against government institutions tends to be in the multi-million dollar range, other more modest suing members of the public resort to small change by filing frivolous lawsuits against home and auto insurance companies and that costs them millions of dollars each year. Well, technically it costs the insurance companies, but in reality it is the millions of insurance policy holders that collectively pay out these windfalls.
The problem is becoming worse because the public, and that includes many new immigrants who see and hear about others who’ve become reasonably wealthy by capitalizing on some misfortune that could have been caused by a combination of bad luck or human error or incompetence. Naturally then, new immigrants in particular coming from third world countries aren’t accustomed to poor service and abuse of human rights. Corporate head honchos aren’t the only ones having lawyers on speed dial, today any conscience-free Canadian hoping to fund his Canadian Dream through a ‘nightmare’ he suffered, well many lawsuits claim the survivor or client has difficulty sleeping or have recurring nightmares as a result of a mistake made by someone.
The System Encourages Lawsuits
The problem lies in the system which makes it so easy to sue for the smallest of things. “Victims” or their families are willing to spend hundreds of manhours in pursuit of “justice.” This is nothing short of greed masquerading as justice because if it truly was an issue of using a bad outcome as an example and reason to inspire change, then it would mean something. But this has only degenerated into money-grabbing to an astonishing degree. If for example someone who was wrongfully imprisoned won a multi-million dollar settlement donated 50 percent of his winnings into a trust to help other such victims, I’d say that was money as well spent. But rarely does one hear such stories.
Meanwhile as a taxpayer still worrying about funding my own retirement, I take a rather dim view of this racket that is costing me and the rest of the still honest tax-paying middle class dearly. I throw in this line about the middle-class at the risk of sounding like a populist politician and for that I apologize! – CINEWS