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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Thalidomide Compensation Continues to Evolve In Canada

In March 2015, the Canadian government acknowledged that known victims of thalidomide needed services and medical care they could not possibly afford, and agreed to provide money for such programs. A program was established under the name the Thalidomide Survivors Contribution Program; it has a more or less “official” web site at

Subsequently, the program was criticized for not covering some persons due to their inability to meet relatively stringent criteria despite facts that strongly suggested in fact they had suffered injuries from thalidomide. Some of the arguments are described in an October 23, 2016 article at the CBC news web site. The article reports that one apparent victim, Ms. Jenkins, engaged a geneticist to comment on her hand deformities. It states:  “Jenkins arranged for clinical geneticist Gudrun Aubertin at Victoria General Hospital to carefully assess her hands. Aubertin determined that Jenkins’ deformed hands were in all likelihood the result of being subjected to thalidomide in the womb. “The history fits,” Aubertin said. “The timing of the pregnancy. The fact that there was a history of anti-nausea medication. Common sense would dictate that this person is deserving the compensation.”

Legislative hearings were held in 2017, which included testimony from the plan administrator (Crawford & Co.) on persons covered or not covered and the reasons for decisions. The hearings and recommendations are described in a June 8, 2017 letter from the House of Commons Standing  Committee on Health to Jane Philpott, Minister of Health. Next steps apparently are still in process.

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