Thalidomide survivor calls on government to boost annual payment

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.
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