Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the RCMP Doctors class action about?
This class action is about allegations of inappropriate conduct by RCMP chosen physicians (“Designated Physicians”) at medical examinations undergone by applicants to the RCMP as the final step before joining the Force (“Applicant’s Examinations”).
The plaintiff, Sylvie Corriveau, alleges that some Designated Physicians abused their power, and that she and other Class Members were sexually assaulted, and experienced improper and invasive procedures during their Applicant’s Examination. The plaintiff alleges that RCMP leadership knew about the Designated Physicians’ misconduct and failed to act on this knowledge, instead interfering with investigations, covering up, and condoning the actions of these Designated Physicians. The plaintiff further alleges that the RCMP continued to send Class Members to Designated Physicians they knew were harming Class Members during the Applicant’s Examination.
The plaintiff claims that as a result of the RCMP’s systemic failures with respect to the Applicant’s Examination, she and the Class Members suffered physical, psychological and emotional injuries, including anger, humiliation, anxiety, depression, and loss of trust in physicians. The claim also alleges that some Class Members’ careers were affected, including those whose careers were permanently altered when they did not join the RCMP.
The plaintiff seeks general, punitive and special damages for the alleged systemic failures of the RCMP to fulfil its duties to provide applicants with an Applicant’s Examination free from sexual assault and battery and inappropriate and unnecessary procedures. The plaintiff also seeks damages on behalf of family members of the Class Members who are entitled to assert a claim under provincial legislation.
- Who started the class action?
Sylvie Corriveau started the class action against the federal government (Her Majesty the Queen) in 2019.
- Who is Class Counsel?
Kim Spencer McPhee Barristers P.C. (“KSM”) serves as Court-appointed Class Counsel. KSM also served as Class Counsel in the Merlo-Davidson class action, which resulted in a $125+ million settlement that provided compensation to 2304 women who experienced gender and sexual orientation based harassment as part of their employment with the RCMP. KSM is a recognized leader in the national class actions space, and its practice focuses exclusively on complex, high value litigation, including insurance, securities, medical and pharmaceutical product liability, consumer protection, and government liability actions. To find out more about the firm, please visit www.complexlaw.ca.
- What is the status of the RCMP Doctors class action and where can I find updates?
On March 26, 2021, the Federal Court of Canada ordered that the RCMP Doctors class action be certified as a national class action. The Crown consented to certification. Check here for updates on the case including the certified common issues.
Description of the Class Action
- Who is a class member?
In general, anyone who underwent an Applicant’s Examination by an RCMP Designated Physician is a class member. Specifically, the class is defined as:
- all persons who underwent an Applicant’s Examination by a Designated Physician (the “Class”);
- all individuals who are entitled to assert a claim pursuant to the Family Law Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. F.3, and equivalent or comparable legislation in other provinces and territories (the “Family Class”); and
- excluded from the Class are individuals whose Applicant’s Examination occurred when they were members of the Class certified in Janet Merlo and Linda Gillis Davidson v Her Majesty the Queen, Court File T-1685-16 or Tiller v Her Majesty the Queen, Court File T-1673-17 and individuals who are or were, at the time of their Applicant’s Examination, able to grieve under s. 208 of the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act, SC 2003, c 22, s 2.
- Does this include men?
Yes, the certified Class in this action includes men who underwent an Applicant’s Examination by a Designated Physician. We have received allegations of male Class Members who were the subject of inappropriate Applicant’s Examinations, and the class action is seeking damages for their experiences.
- What do I have to do to participate?
You do not have to do anything at this time, although we strongly recommend you Register Your Information so that we can keep in touch with you as the action progresses. If you are an individual who fits within the class definition above, you are automatically included as a Class Member unless you send a written “opt out” form to Dewar Communications (address below) by October 29, 2021.
- Does this lawsuit cover potential claimants anywhere and everywhere in Canada?
Yes. This class action has been certified to include Class Members in all provinces and territories in Canada.
- I underwent an Applicant’s Examination but did not join the RCMP afterwards. Am I included in the class action?
Yes. The class definition includes both those who joined the RCMP and those who did not, so long as they underwent an Applicant’s Examination by a Designated Physician. Please contact Class Counsel if you are in this situation.
- I underwent an Applicant’s Examination but no longer work for the RCMP and/or am retired. Am I included in the class action?
Yes. The class definition includes current and former RCMP personnel, so long as they underwent an Applicant’s Examination by a Designated Physician.
- I underwent an Applicant’s Examination but it was not performed by either Dr. Campbell or Dr. MacDougall. Am I included in the class action?
Yes. Although the plaintiff’s personal allegations specifically relate to Dr. John A. MacDougall (Toronto), there have been allegations against other Designated Physicians in other provinces, including Dr. Donald MacLeod Campbell (Nova Scotia/Newfoundland & Labrador). If you underwent an Applicant’s Examination with a different RCMP Designated Physician that you feel was improper, invasive, or unnecessary, contact Class Counsel.
- What do I do if I think I have a claim but I’m not within the class definition?
If you think you may have a claim against the RCMP (Canada) but you do not meet the definition of a Class Member, then you may wish to:
- speak with you own lawyer to discuss any potential claim; or
- contact Class Counsel
- What do I do if I don’t want to be a Class Member?
If you meet the above definition of a Class Member, but you are interested in starting your own individual lawsuit or you otherwise do not want to be a Class Member, you must “opt-out” of the class action. If you wish to opt out, you must submit the printed Opt-Out Form by mail to:
Dewar Communications Inc.
Attn: Deborah Bowden-Jones
9 Prince Arthur Ave
Toronto ON M5R 1B2
Opt-out Forms are due by October 29, 2021.
No person may opt out a minor or mentally incapable person without permission of the Court, after notice to the Children’s Lawyer or Public Guardian and Trustee, as applicable to Class Members resident in Ontario, and to comparable or equivalent entities in other provinces and territories, as applicable to Class Members resident in other provinces and territories. Where any Class Member opts out, that person’s family members will also be deemed to have opted out. Members of the Family Class have no independent right to opt out.
If you remain in the case, you may be eligible to qualify for any benefits to Class Members that may result, and you will not be liable for any costs or expenses. However, if you opt out, you will not be able to share in any benefits or compensation from the class action.
- I think I have a claim in this action but I submitted a claim under the Merlo Davidson or Tiller Class Actions against the RCMP (Canada). Can I still participate in this action?
Yes, as long as your Applicant’s Examination occurred before you joined the RCMP (as is usually the case for new members/applicants).
This is because the scope of this action excludes any claims that could have been made under the settlement agreements in the gender-based harassment class actions Merlo and Davidson v Her Majesty the Queen, Federal Court Action No. T-1685-16 and Tiller v Her Majesty the Queen, Federal Court Action No. T-1673-17.
This means that if you are female and your Applicant’s Examination occurred while you were already working or volunteering with the RCMP (e.g. you were a Civilian Member while applying to be a Regular Member), your claim is not included in this action because it could have been made under the Merlo Davidson or the Tiller settlements. Please contact Class Counsel if you are unsure.
- I think I have a claim in this action but I was a public service employee at the time of my Applicant’s Examination. Can I still participate in this action?
Likely not. The scope of this action excludes any individuals who were, at the time of their Applicant’s Examination, able to grieve under s. 208 of the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act, SC 2003, c 22, s 2. There are limited categories of PSEs (such as contract/causal workers or overseas workers) who were not able to grieve under the Act, and may be Class Members in this case. Please contact Class Counsel if you are unsure.
- I am a family member of someone who has a claim in this action. Do I have any claim in the class action?
Yes, this action includes a Family Class. However, as a Family Class Member, your claim is contingent on the success of the claim of the Primary Class Member. Where any Class Member opts out, that person’s family members will also be deemed to have opted out. Members of the Family Class have no independent right to opt out.
- What is a class action?
A class action is a type of lawsuit that allows a defined group of people who share similar claims to bring a single action against the same defendant(s). From this group of people, the Court appoints a single person (or multiple persons) to serve as a representative plaintiff(s) and advance the lawsuit on behalf of the group (the “class” or “class members”).
Class actions are an efficient and cost-effective way for groups of people with common legal issues to gain access to the legal system and seek justice, without having to individually retain and instruct their own lawyers and incur the out of pocket expenses and time commitment associated with prosecuting an individual lawsuit.
Class actions are subject to oversight by the Court, and certain decisions made in a class action, such as a decision to enter into a settlement to resolve the action on behalf of the class, must be approved by the Court.
- What does certification mean?
Certification means that the Court has given approval for the action to proceed as a class action. The Court does not determine the merits of the action in a certification hearing. This case has been certified as a class action.
- What is a representative plaintiff?
A representative plaintiff (sometimes there are several) brings a lawsuit on behalf of the members of a defined class. If the class is “certified”, the representative (“named”) plaintiff is formally appointed by the Court, and prosecutes the case on behalf of other class members that fall within the certified class definition. The representative plaintiff and the class are represented by lawyers appointed by the Court, called “Class Counsel”.
Typically, only the representative plaintiff provides evidence and makes decisions with respect to the common issues. If the representative plaintiff is successful at the common issues trial, then the class action usually proceeds to the individual issues stage, at which time individual class members will have an opportunity to present evidence specific to their own situations.
The Court-appointed representative plaintiff for this class action is Sylvie Corriveau.
- Do I have to pay any legal fees?
Class actions are prosecuted on a contingency fee basis by Class Counsel, which means they carry the cost of the action and are paid if and when a successful outcome is achieved. Generally speaking, their legal fees are deducted from any award or settlement.
- How much money will I receive through the class action?
There has been no determination of liability or damages in this case yet. Class Counsel cannot advise about the likely outcome, as it will depend on a number of factors. For future developments, please continue monitoring the status of the case here.
- How much will the lawyers be paid?
If the class action is successful (provides benefits for the Class), Class Counsel will request Court approval of legal fees, based on the retainer agreement between Class Counsel and the representative plaintiff(s), and reimbursement of their out-of-pocket expenses. The quantum of legal fees ultimately awarded depends on what the Court approves as fair and reasonable. These fees are contingent, meaning they will be paid if and only if a benefit for the Class has been achieved.
- Has the class action settled? What are the chances of settlement?
No settlement has been reached. In complex cases such as this one, it is difficult or impossible to predict whether the case will settle, and, if so, at what level.