Ottawa relaxes its program of support for victims of thalidomide

Ottawa assouplit son programme de soutien aux victimes de la thalidomide

Ottawa has finally launched on Wednesday its new programme of assistance to survivors of thalidomide, the drug used in the 50’s and 60’s as an anti-nausea in pregnant women and that caused serious malformations in the hundreds of Canadians.

The federal government had promised in February 2018 to expand the eligibility criteria of the contribution Program for the survivors of thalidomide. In its last budget, it was recognized that some survivors may have been excluded because eligibility criteria are too restrictive and was committed to resolve this issue “to ensure that all survivors of thalidomide receive the financial support they need”.

The program put in place in 2015 provided for a single payment of $ 125,000 to the victims and an annual pension of up to $ 100,000. To be eligible, the government demanded various documents, including proof that the mother of the plaintiff had taken the drug during the first trimester of pregnancy.

In march, a survivor) of thalidomide, Claudie Briand, has won a legal battle of several years against Ottawa, who refused to recognize the cause of its deformation. Ms. Briand was not able to provide the required documents because of his mother and the doctor who had prescribed the drug had died and that the archives of the hospital of Baie-Comeau, where she was born had passed away in a fire.

This fall, the federal Court of appeal has given its green light to the collective action that wish to bring against the canadian government in any of the 167 alleged victims of thalidomide.

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The new canadian Program of assistance to survivors of thalidomide (PCSST) announced Wednesday will provide “a fair approach and detailed in order to identify the survivors of thalidomide, which is based on the best international practices”, promises one.

Details in the spring

This is not, however, before the spring that the details of the program will be unveiled, and that applications will begin to be presented, as specified by the ministry of Health in a press release. The survivors will have five years to get their request.

The new program will involve a lump sum is not taxable to each survivor to help them cover their medical expenses urgent”. It will also include annual payments be continued based on the level of disability.

The survivors, who face extraordinary expenditures (surgeries are not covered by the medical insurance of the provinces, and adjustments in the residence or vehicle, for example) may also have access to the assistance Fund, medical special.

The survivors already supported by the old program will automatically be transferred to the PCSST, and will continue to receive their benefits, says the ministry of Health. “They will also receive an ex gratia payment additional of$ 125,000 for the sums paid free of charge to survivors in the framework of the two programmes are equal”, says he.

“The government of Canada recognizes how the canadian thalidomide survivors have already suffered from the disease. We are determined to help them to age in dignity”, said the minister of Health, Ginette Petitpas Taylor.


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