Class Actions

Birth Alerts Class Action —

This proposed class action against the Government of Ontario and Ontario’s Children’s Aid Societies alleges that the usage of birth alerts/notifications violated the privacy and Charter rights of pregnant persons.

Case Overview

This proposed class action is brought against the Government of Ontario (Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services) and all of the provincial Children’s Aid Societies, regarding their establishment and operation of a system known as “Birth Alerts” (sometimes also called “birth notifications” or “hospital alerts”).

On July 14, 2020, the Ministry issued a policy directive to the CASs requiring that the practice of issuing Birth Alerts be stopped by October 15, 2020. There have been reports, however, that Birth Alerts are still being issued in some areas of the province.

Who is included in the class action lawsuit?

This action is brought on behalf of:

All persons who were, while pregnant, the subject of a Birth Alert issued in Ontario, and who were 18 years of age or older at the time that the Birth Alert was issued (the “Birth Parent Class” or “Birth Parent Class Members”); and

All dependents of members of the Birth Parent Class, as defined by s. 61 of the Family Law Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. F.3 (the “Family Class” or “Family Class Members”).

Including a subclass of:

All Indigenous, racialized, and/or disabled Birth Parent Class Members (the “Subclass” or “Subclass Members”).

The Birth Parent Class includes any person who was subject to a birth alert issued in Ontario while they were an adult, and the Family Class includes any close relative of a Birth Parent Class Member.

What is the class action lawsuit about?

The action alleges that using Birth Alerts was unlawful. Specifically, the action alleges that the CASs:

  • breached the Birth Parent Class Members’ fundamental constitutional rights, including their right to liberty and security of the person;
  • breached the Birth Parent Class Members’ quasi-constitutional right to privacy regarding intensely personal matters of medical care and childbirth; and
  • exceeded their child protection mandate and legal jurisdiction by issuing Birth Alerts against the Birth Parent Class Members prior to the birth of a child.

The action also alleges that the Government of Ontario was negligent in failing to put a stop to the use of Birth Alerts for decades, causing substantial harm to Ontario families.

Further, the action alleges that the use of Birth Alerts was grounded in discriminatory assumptions regarding which individuals are likely to be neglectful, abusive or incapable parentsparticularly Indigenous, racialized, and/or disabled birth parents, who were disproportionately the subjects of Birth Alertsand that this was a violation of the Subclass Members’ constitutional right to equality.

For more details, please view the Statement of Claim here or under the “Documents” Tab.

Have you been the subject of a birth alert in Ontario?

If you believe that you or someone you know was the subject of a Birth Alert in Ontario, we would like to hear from you. Please contact Tina Q. Yang at (647) 261-4486 or by email at reception@waddellphillips.ca. All communications will be kept confidential.

What about birth alerts in the rest of Canada?

The proposed action is part of a co-ordinated national litigation effort, with additional provincial class proceedings filed or to be filed by members of our counsel group across Canada. Waddell Phillips PC will be acting as counsel for the proposed class actions in Ontario and in the Atlantic provinces. For inquiries relating to birth alerts in other provinces, please contact the firm listed below:

British Columbia and Alberta

Sharon Wong (Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman LLP) at (604) 689-7555 or by email at swong@cfmlawyers.ca

Saskatchewan and Manitoba

Alisa Lombard (Lombard Law) at (613) 914-7726 or by email at alombard@lombardlaw.ca

Quebec

Leánie Cardinal (Belleau Lapointe, s.e.n.c.r.l.) at (514) 987-6700 or by email at info@belleaulapointe.com

Case Overview

This proposed class action is brought against the Government of Ontario (Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services) and all of the provincial Children’s Aid Societies, regarding their establishment and operation of a system known as “Birth Alerts” (sometimes also called “birth notifications” or “hospital alerts”).

On July 14, 2020, the Ministry issued a policy directive to the CASs requiring that the practice of issuing Birth Alerts be stopped by October 15, 2020. There have been reports, however, that Birth Alerts are still being issued in some areas of the province.

Who is included in the class action lawsuit?

This action is brought on behalf of:

All persons who were, while pregnant, the subject of a Birth Alert issued in Ontario, and who were 18 years of age or older at the time that the Birth Alert was issued (the “Birth Parent Class” or “Birth Parent Class Members”); and

All dependents of members of the Birth Parent Class, as defined by s. 61 of the Family Law Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. F.3 (the “Family Class” or “Family Class Members”).

Including a subclass of:

All Indigenous, racialized, and/or disabled Birth Parent Class Members (the “Subclass” or “Subclass Members”).

The Birth Parent Class includes any person who was subject to a birth alert issued in Ontario while they were an adult, and the Family Class includes any close relative of a Birth Parent Class Member.

What is the class action lawsuit about?

The action alleges that using Birth Alerts was unlawful. Specifically, the action alleges that the CASs:

  • breached the Birth Parent Class Members’ fundamental constitutional rights, including their right to liberty and security of the person;
  • breached the Birth Parent Class Members’ quasi-constitutional right to privacy regarding intensely personal matters of medical care and childbirth; and
  • exceeded their child protection mandate and legal jurisdiction by issuing Birth Alerts against the Birth Parent Class Members prior to the birth of a child.

The action also alleges that the Government of Ontario was negligent in failing to put a stop to the use of Birth Alerts for decades, causing substantial harm to Ontario families.

Further, the action alleges that the use of Birth Alerts was grounded in discriminatory assumptions regarding which individuals are likely to be neglectful, abusive or incapable parentsparticularly Indigenous, racialized, and/or disabled birth parents, who were disproportionately the subjects of Birth Alertsand that this was a violation of the Subclass Members’ constitutional right to equality.

For more details, please view the Statement of Claim here or under the “Documents” Tab.

Have you been the subject of a birth alert in Ontario?

If you believe that you or someone you know was the subject of a Birth Alert in Ontario, we would like to hear from you. Please contact Tina Q. Yang at (647) 261-4486 or by email at reception@waddellphillips.ca. All communications will be kept confidential.

What about birth alerts in the rest of Canada?

The proposed action is part of a co-ordinated national litigation effort, with additional provincial class proceedings filed or to be filed by members of our counsel group across Canada. Waddell Phillips PC will be acting as counsel for the proposed class actions in Ontario and in the Atlantic provinces. For inquiries relating to birth alerts in other provinces, please contact the firm listed below:

British Columbia and Alberta

Sharon Wong (Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman LLP) at (604) 689-7555 or by email at swong@cfmlawyers.ca

Saskatchewan and Manitoba

Alisa Lombard (Lombard Law) at (613) 914-7726 or by email at alombard@lombardlaw.ca

Quebec

Leánie Cardinal (Belleau Lapointe, s.e.n.c.r.l.) at (514) 987-6700 or by email at info@belleaulapointe.com

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