Thalidomide survivors seek compensation

CNC
Added On December 8, 2017

Between 1957 and 1961, thalidomide was sold as an over-the-counter drug as a cure for insomnia, anxiety and morning-sickness.
 
The drug had a devastating effect on babies in the womb: half died, the others born with malformed limbs.
 
Today, 60 years on, the effects continue.
 
In Canada a group of survivors are still battling the government for compensation and support, as they near retirement.  
 
Lifestyle has more.
 
In the Charles-Lynch theatre on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, human rights lawyer Fiona Sampson starts off a meeting for the Thalidomide Survivors Task Group. One of several set up for thalidomide survivors.
 
SOUNDBITE(ENGLISH):FIONA SAMPSON, Human rights lawyer
" Thalidomide is the single biggest medical disaster in Canadian history. Thalidomiders were born with missing limbs, missing organs, blind, deaf, and that disaster was the direct result of the government's negligence, the federal government's negligence. Thalidomiders were ignored and basically disrespected by the federal government for our entire lives. Three years ago, the federal government, Parliament, voted unanimously to provide full support for thalidomide survivors. And we celebrated that unanimous motion. Unfortunately the promise made through that unanimous motion has been broken."
 
The group are frustrated.
 
In December 2014, Parliament unanimously pledged "full" support of thalidomide survivors, but the group are still waiting. 
 
The members are now in their mid-50s are now experiencing failing health,many are unable to work. 
 
On average, thalidomide survivors live 10 to 15 years less. 
 
When the Parliament agreed in 2014, the group had 97 survivors. Today there are 92.  
 
Sampson points out that their situation is unique, because their disabilities came through government negligence.
 
The group have proposed each receives a 250,000 dollar lump sum payment, plus 75,000 to 150,000 dollars a year in support payments.
 
However the Canadian government has paid at most half that: a 125,000 dollar lump sum, and annual pension of between 25,000 to 100,000 dollars. 
 
With growing medical bills, and hampered lives, some feel that is not enough.
 
SOUNDBITE: ALEXANDRA NIBLOCK, Thalidomide survivor
"Our bodies are now failing. We are no longer self-sufficient. I am no longer self-sufficient. I have chronic pain. I'm on daily medication for chronic pain. You name it, I've tried it, to reduce the amount of pain that I experience."
 
Sampson claims that she was told that the Canadian government did not have the funds to pay them.
 
Thalidomide survivor Lee Ann Dalling spoke of the shame she lives with for a government error.
 
SOUNDBITE(ENGLISH): LEE ANN DALLING, Thalidomide survivor 
"We all endure humiliation on a daily basis due to our physical appearance. There is not a day that goes by that I don't receive a hurtful comment related to thalidomide. The federal government reneging on its promise of full support compounds these daily indignities."
 
At 60, the group should be looking forward to retirement. 
 
But their lifetime of fights and struggles may continue, for a little longer yet.