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Canadian Government Extends Hepatitis C Compensation

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the extension of compensation to all
citizens of Canada who contracted hepatitis C from contaminated blood or blood-derived
products. The announcement was made at a news conference in Cambridge, Ontario, on July 25,

The government’s trust fund, established in 1998 and totaling more than $1 billion, was initially
open only to those infected with hepatitis C between the years 1986-1990, a period when a
screening test was available but not used. Individuals infected before and after that period,
approximately half of the total number, have, until now, been excluded. Lawyers representing
the 1986-1990 claimants oversee the trust fund with the court. They had been opposed to
extending the period of eligibility, affecting an additional 5,500 individuals, including many with

“All should be compensated equally, because all of the victims have endured pain and suffering.
Our party has long agreed with this conclusion. And now, as a government, we’re acting upon
it,” said Prime Minister Harper.

“These people have been waiting seven or eight years longer than anybody else and some are
very, very sick and unable to work,” said David Page, spokesman for the Canadian Hemophilia
Society (CHS). “We've seen stories of people who have lost their homes and lost their

According to Page, the expanded compensation will have to be approved by the courts, a process
that may take a year. Although the complete details have yet to be outlined, he hopes that rather
than awarding equal lump-sum payments, funds will be allocated in proportion to the severity of
each person's illness.      

CHS, which supports the extended compensation, released a statement in reaction to the
government’s announcement. To read the entire response go to the CHS Web site>> 

Source: The Globe and Mail, July 12, 2006 and The Ottawa Citizen, July 25, 2006


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