The federal government is complaining about the high cost of settling claims by Native people abused at residential schools.

Anticipating an average settlement of $100,000, the Feds face a bill of up to $330 million on just the 3,375 existing lawsuits and four class-action suits filed against Ottawa and the churches that ran the schools. The suits are related to both abuse and loss of culture.

The final tab will probably rise to $2 to $3 billion once all claims are settled, cabinet ministers believe. The government is still fighting the churches in court to figure out how – or if – the liability should be shared.