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School Fees Class Action - Cheques will begin being issued in the next few days


Thursday, April 11, 2019 6:30:00 PM

Justice Carl Lachance of the Superior Court of Québec approved, on July 30, 2018, a $153.5-million settlement agreement entered into by 68 Québec school boards and by Mrs. Daisye Marcil, a mother from Jonquière who represented the parents of students who attended a public school between 2009-2010 and 2016-2017. The judge described the day as a very important and historic day for the parents of students and for the Québec school boards.

Under this settlement agreement, the parents will receive a net amount of $24.09 per year for each child who attended a public primary or high school during the school years concerned. One cheque per child and per school board will be issued. As a result, many parents will receive several cheques, often totalling more than $100. The amounts paid to the parents will compensate, among other things, for expenses for the purchase of textbooks, grammar books and dictionaries, as well as for educational field trips. The cheques will be distributed directly to the parents by the firm Collectiva Class Action Services. The parents do not need to do anything to receive their cheques, which will automatically be mailed to their last known address. In addition, the parents who changed their address could notify such change to Collectiva in order to avoid any issues. Close to 5,000 parents have availed themselves of this option.

The long-awaited moment has now arrived: the distribution of cheques to the parents will begin in the next few days. Mtre Manon Lechasseur, from the firm Justitia, and part of the team of legal counsel for the parents of Québec, does not attempt to hide her pride: "Everything is now in place for the distribution, which will begin over the course of April. Close to 1.4 million cheques will be distributed to the parents of Québec prior to the end of 2019. The parents will need to keep an eye on their mail over the next months and, above all, not to throw away envelopes bearing Collectiva's logo!" It is not uncommon today for valid cheques to be thrown away as a result of concerns about fraud. Mtre Guillaume Charlebois, from Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, also counsel for the parents of Québec, indicates that numerous parents are waiting for the cheques to be issued: "The cheques being distributed to the parents are not charity. They compensate parents for expenses that they should never have had to incur. Several parents have contacted us since July 2018 to know when the cheques would be issued, which shows the importance that parents attribute to this long-awaited compensation. The time has now come for them to receive their indemnities. They are entitled to them and they should fully benefit from them." Mtre Yves Laperrière, from Justitia, indicates that certain parents will need to be patient given that the distribution will require some time: "Logistically speaking, it is impossible to send 1.4 million cheques at the same time. The distribution process will thus be spread over several months, but is expected to end in 2019. The parents will therefore need to be patient and to frequently check whether there is an envelope from Collectiva in their mailboxes. And if your children have attended school in more than one school board, you will receive more than one cheque, sometimes a few months apart, so keep an eye out for this as well!" Once it is confirmed, a schedule for the distribution of the cheques from each school board will be available online at the following address: https://ententefraisscolaires.collectiva.ca.

The cheques will need to be cashed within 180 days of the date of issue. Joint cheques will, in addition, need to be signed by each of the persons to whom they have been issued. All amounts that are not cashed will go to the Class Action Assistance Fund or will serve to assist students with important financial needs. Mtre Jean-Philippe Groleau, from Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, emphasized that the indemnification of parents remains paramount: "Our objective is clear: it is that a record number of parents cash their cheques. In practice, recovery rates are often between 20% and 40% in the context of a class action. In this case, we wish to greatly exceed 50% and perhaps get close to 80% or even 90%."

The final results of the distribution will be known prior to the end of this year.