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Committee recommends distribution plan for Humboldt Broncos GoFundMe dollars

A five-person advisory committee is recommending how money raised from a GoFundMe campaign held after the April 6 Humboldt Broncos bus crash should be divided. Of the $14.

A five-person advisory committee is recommending how money raised from a GoFundMe campaign held after the April 6 Humboldt Broncos bus crash should be divided.

Of the $14.6 million raised after expenses from GoFundMe campaign, the committee is recommending the families of the 16 who died receive $525,000 each, while the 13 survivors receive $475,000 each.

All of the families and survivors have already received $50,000 from the total amount that will be disbursed.

A court hearing set for Nov. 28 may finalize the recommendation.

When deciding how to divide the money, the committee had to examine closely the intent of the GoFundMe campaign.

“Please help us raise money for the players and families affected,” Sylvie Kellington wrote on the GoFundMe page she started. “Money will go directly to families to help with an expense incurred.”

Kellington later clarified in an affidavit she meant all 29 people on the bus, whether they were players, coaches or staff.

The committee had to decide whether to go with a literal approach, where those affected by the crash would be compensated for their expenses, or a more liberal approach, which could include compensatory payments, non-compensatory payments or a mix of the two.

The Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench said the committee could go with the liberal approach.

The committee found it next to impossible to get the information needed to determine the expenses incurred by each family, and decided to focus on providing non-compensatory payments.

“It was apparent to us that differences in expenses incurred by claimants should be dealt with by way of insurance (for example, benefits payable under the Automobile Accident Insurance Act or the Workers Compensation Act) and that the GoFundMe campaign was never intended to operate as insurance,” read committee's report about its recommendation.

A major question the committee faced was if the money should be divided equally among the 29 on the bus.

“It was apparent from our discussions with the claimants that not all of the families of passengers who died in the crash support an equal distribution,” the committee wrote. “Some made it clear that they had overtly supported an equal distribution to maintain harmony within the group.”

Some of the families told the committee an equal split would be the most straightforward approach. Three families in particular were adamant and aggressive in their belief the money should be divided equally.

Once deciding that not everyone should get the same amount of money, the committee had to decide if the 13 survivors should receive equal amounts.

At first, the committee was leaning toward giving different amounts based on the severity of injuries and the circumstances for each survivor.

“We have been persuaded otherwise by the families of the four most severely injured players,” the committee wrote. “They are the ones who, by objective measures, would receive the largest allocation of funds. Those four – survivors and their families alike – have made it clear to us that they support an equal distribution among the 13 surviving players.”

The GoFundMe campaign raised a total of almost $15.2 million. Of that, close to $483,000 was deducted to cover the 2.9 per cent processing fee plus $0.30 per donation. As well, more than $48,000 was held back to deal with unforeseen problems, such as donors asking for their money back.

While the decision is being finalized, the money is in high-interest savings accounts. If there any extra money, that will be split evenly among the survivors.

The five-person committee was made up of retired Court of Queen’s Bench Judge Dennis Ball, four-time Olympic champion Hayley Wickenheiser, True North Sports and Entertainment owner Mark Chipman, University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine department head Dr. Peter Spafford and executive director at the Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response Kevin Cameron. Having such a committee is a requirement of the province’s Informal Public Appeals Act.