Ottawa – Gord Brown, Member of Parliament for Leeds-Grenville- Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes says he is disgusted by comments made by Disabilities Minister Kent Hehr to Thalidomide survivors. At a press conference on Parliament Hill Tuesday, Fiona Sampson claimed the minister belittled survivors in an October 19 meeting where they were advocating for more money for survivors who have been compensated.
According to Sampson the minister said, “You don’t have it as bad today as adults as you did when you were kids.” He also added: “everyone in Canada has a sob story. Lots of people have it bad in Canada— disabled people, poor people, not just you,” she explained.
After she explained to the minister that the life spans of Thalidomide victims have been reduced as a result of their problems, she claims he said: “So, you probably have about 10 years left now. That’s good news for the Canadian government.”
“This is shocking,” says Brown. “But it goes to the heart of this government’s attitude toward Thalidomide victims and explains why, after six months, we still haven’t seen any action on the health committee recommendations to assist other survivors who have not been compensated.”
Brown has been fighting for 18 months to acquire compensation for Thalidomide survivors who cannot produce paperwork required to qualify under the government’s compensation program.
“The Standing Committee of Health held two days of hearings and heard from internatioonal witnesses who recommended changes to our program,” says Brown. The committee wrote a letter to the Health Minister in June expressing hope for swift action.”
“So far we have only heard the Minister is reviewing the letter.”
Minister Hehr’s comments seem to sum up the attitude of this government to these survivors, he notes. “I will continue to press for action on this issue until the Minister steps up and does the right thing,” he adds.