Thalidomide survivor calls on government to boost annual payment


OTTAWA — Thalidomide survivor Fiona Sampson says a Health Canada revamp of a compensation program doesn’t boost annual payments to a level that could make the difference between independence and institutionalization.

Changes to the federal program announced on Wednesday include an increase to a lump-sum payment for survivors — a boost to $250,000 from $125,000.

Sampson says she welcomes that but she and a group of survivors are upset the government didn’t also increase annual payments for victims suffering long-term harms from the now-banned pregnancy drug.

Health Canada currently provides annual tax-free payments to survivors ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 based on individual disability level and Sampson’s group wants that range raised to $75,000 to $150,000.

Changes to the existing thalidomide support program are to take effect in the spring and will also include a boost to an emergency medical assistance fund from $500,0000 to $1 million.

The announcement received praise from a separate group — the Thalidomide Survivors Taskforce — that thanked Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor for working to improve the lives of Canada’s thalidomide survivors.

The Canadian Press