OTTAWA – On Wednesday afternoon, Canada’s Minister of Health announced important changes to the support programs for Canada’s Thalidomide survivors.
These changes reflect our ongoing discussions with Health Canada officials and the Minister’s office. The announcement builds on the previous success of the program announced in 2015. We want to thank Minister Petitpas Taylor and Health Canada officials for continuing to work with us to improve the lives of Canada’s Thalidomide survivors.
Key changes to the support program for Canada’s Thalidomide survivors announced today include:
- Increasing the one-time ex gratia payment to each recognized survivor to $250,000. For those survivors who were already recognized by the program, they will receive an additional $125,000 ex gratia payment;
- Increasing the Emergency Medical Assistance Fund (EMAF) from $500,000 to $1,000,000 per year;
- Providing a fair and comprehensive approach to identifying thalidomide survivors that is based on international best practices, using a probability-based eligibility assessment.
Thalidomide was a drug that was used to treat morning sickness in pregnant women in the 1960’s that led to catastrophic impacts including children born with missing and malformed limbs, deafness, blindness, disfigurement, and many other internal disabilities.
In 2014, a campaign was launched to “Right the Wrong” of Canada’s thalidomide tragedy and provide support to the remaining survivors of thalidomide. The campaign resulted in a unanimous vote in the House of Commons (256 to 0), and a funding support program in 2015 that has dramatically improved the lives of Canada’s remaining survivors.
Today’s announcement builds on the program announced in 2015 and creates an additional path for those that may have been impacted by Thalidomide to be assessed and recognized.
The Thalidomide Survivors Taskforce includes the following members:
Mercedes Benegbi, Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada
Stephen Raynes, Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer (US)
Joe Fiorante QC, Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman LLP
Natalie Dash, Campbell Strategies
Chris Holz, Campbell Strategies