SASKATOON – The Saskatoon Health Region has issued a statement on a proposed class-action lawsuit alleging Indigenous women were coerced into undergoing tubal ligations.
SHR officials say they respect the rights of the women to pursue legal action.
The statement also says the region will continue to provide “safe, respectful and compassionate care for women and their families, in collaboration with First Nations and Metis communities.”
The proposed lawsuit names Canada’s attorney general, the Saskatchewan government, the province’s health regions and the doctors involved.
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 tubal ligation.
A judge needs to sign off on the statement of claim before it moves forward as a class-action suit.
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,”
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 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.
After the report was released, the Saskatoon Health Region said it deeply regretted what happened, acknowledging it failed to treat the women with the respect, compassion and support they deserve.