Connect with us
[bsa_pro_ad_space id=12]

Health

Thalidomide survivor calls on government to boost annual payment

Avatar

Published




OTTAWA — 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, thalidomide survivor Fiona Sampson said Thursday.

Changes to the federal program announced on Wednesday include an increase to a lump-sum payment for survivors — to $250,000 from $125,000 and an update to eligibility criteria that the Trudeau government acknowledged may have excluded some victims.

Thalidomide was a drug billed as a safe, effective sedative and morning-sickness remedy when it first became available in Canada in 1959 but it was banned in 1962 after it was discovered to be causing widespread birth defects and deaths.

Sampson said Thursday she welcomes Health Canada program reforms 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 drug.

She said she felt like the oxygen was sucked out of the room and she was punched in the stomach when she learned that Health Canada’s most recent update, due in the spring, will not include additional annual money.

The department currently provides annual tax-free payments to survivors ranging in three categories —$25,000, $75,000 and $100,000 — based on individual disability level.

Sampson’s group wants that range raised to $75,000, $100,000 and $150,000, adding they were given assurances by the Trudeau government it planned to deliver on additional support.

“To be disappointed, to put it mildly, in the results of yesterday’s announcement is a bit tragic, both in terms of adding insult to injury, literally, and it creates really serious health implications for lots of thalidomiders that are living on the edge,” she said in an interview.

“We have been so patient and have invested such faith and such trust in this government.”

The aging process is compounded for thalidomide survivors due to unusual and unique health circumstances, she added, noting that malformations in her hands and arms make it necessary to use her teeth in ways that they should not be used.

Since falling twice in the past couple years, Sampson said she has been reduced at times to complete dependence on her spouse, requiring him to perform a range of functions “no spouse should ever be called upon to perform.”

“If it weren’t for my spouse, I would’ve been institutionalized,” she said. “I couldn’t go to the bathroom, I couldn’t wash my hair, I couldn’t feed myself.”

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

“We will provide new financial support to more eligible thalidomide survivors, because it is the right thing to do,” Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said in response to the criticism. “The new program will be opened to new applicants, and will make sure that survivors’ annual compensation is reassessed if their needs change as they age.”

That means if people getting payments at one level develop more serious needs, they can be moved into one of the higher categories. And survivors who haven’t been receiving compensation at all can apply anew for the next five years.

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

“Today’s announcement builds on the program announced in 2015 and creates an additional path for those that may have been impacted by thalidomide to be assessed and recognized,” it said.

Outstanding concerns over the inadequacy of annual payments for survivors is a simple situation to fix, Sampson said Thursday.

“It would cost $4 million a year,” she said, adding it is not a long-term commitment.

“We are dying off and we are dying off fast … Thalidomiders are a creation of the government’s negligence. So this isn’t some kind of good deed that the federal government is so generously engaging in. There really is, if not a legal obligation, a 100 per cent moral obligation.”

—Follow @kkirkup on Twitter

Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press

If you like this, share it!
Advertisement [bsa_pro_ad_space id=12]

Health

RCMP seeks names of potential victims of coerced sterilization, Lucki says

Avatar

Published

on




OTTAWA — The RCMP is seeking the names of potential victims of coerced sterilization procedures and wants lawyers to help in the process, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki said Tuesday.

In testimony before the House of Commons health committee, Lucki said the RCMP is willing to meet with victims, adding it would be helpful if lawyers could talk to complainants about coming forward.

“The lawyers … if they were to speak with those victims and provide them the options of coming to the police, we would absolutely sit down with each and every victim that they had to look at it from a criminal point of view,” she said.

“Obviously they are not going to release their names without their consent as well. But … if we were to have those conversations, and possibly we could convince victims to come forward through the lawyers, that would be one avenue that we could explore.”

MPs asked Lucki to testify as part of a study about ongoing concerns from predominantly Indigenous women who allege they were coerced or forced into tubal ligation procedures during childbirth.

Her testimony also followed a letter sent this spring by NDP health critic Don Davies who asked the RCMP to conduct an investigation of serious and credible allegations that have been brought forward.

Lucki told Davies in a March letter that the force would work with commanding officers in each province and territory as well as other police agencies to see if any complaints have been reported.

“To date, we have no allegations that are on file for forced or coerced sterilization that were found to be reported to the RCMP directly,” Lucki said Tuesday. She said the RCMP takes all criminal allegations very seriously and that the force has reached out to the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police to raise awareness.

The issue has been the subject of much public scrutiny, particularly in the past two years.

In 2017, the Saskatchewan Health Region issued a public apology after complaints from Indigenous women, and a proposed class-action lawsuit was launched naming as defendants the Saskatoon Health Authority, the provincial and federal governments, and a handful of medical professionals.

Dr. Judith Bartlett, a Metis physician who co-authored the external review, told the committee on Tuesday that Indigenous women interviewed for the report often felt invisible, profiled and powerless.

She also said she does not believe women will come forward to the RCMP because there is “no safety there for them.” Those interviewed for the report were granted anonymity, she said, noting they often felt much better having been able to express the harm done to them.

Much more research is needed to understand the scope of the problem because any time an individual is asked to make a decision when they’re not in the state of mind to weigh pros and cons constitutes coercion, Bartlett said.

Dr. Jennifer Blake, chief executive of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, told MPs that obtaining consent for tubal ligations at the time of delivery should be avoided at all costs. She also noted that when she first learned of allegations a forced sterilizations, she thought it was in reference to a historical issue.

Last Tuesday, lawyer Alisa Lombard, a partner with the firm Semaganis Worme Lombard, told the health committee she represents a client, referred to as D.D.S., was sterilized without proper and informed consent in December 2018 at a Moose Jaw, Sask., hospital

That same month, the United Nations Committee Against Torture urged Canada to act to address the issue of coerced sterilization, setting a one-year deadline to report back on progress.

In response, Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor and Jane Philpott, then Indigenous services minister, sent a letter to provinces and territories proposing a working group of officials to discuss the concerns.

Health Canada said Tuesday the group has had “productive discussions” about the scope and purpose of the federal-provincial-territorial plan to “advance cultural safety and humility in the health system.” As a first step, officials decided Health Canada would take the lead on “an environmental scan of cultural safety initiatives and practices across Canada,” the agency said in a statement.

—Follow @kkirkup on Twitter

Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press

If you like this, share it!
Continue Reading

Health

Blair says more gun-control action needed, signals no new steps before election

Avatar

Published

on




OTTAWA — Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair says more must be done to address gun violence, but he’s also signalling that no new measures will be taken before the fall election.

Steps could — and should — be taken to prevent the theft, illegal diversion and cross-border smuggling of handguns, Blair said Tuesday. 

As he entered a cabinet meeting, Blair emphasized the importance of secure storage of firearms to prevent them from being stolen and ending up in the wrong hands.

The government is also open to working with municipalities to allow them to decide exactly where, or even if, firearms can be stored within their boundaries, he said.

However, the parliamentary sitting is expected to conclude shortly and the government is scrambling to tie up loose ends before the summer recess and an election campaign likely to begin in September.  

“Some of this would require regulatory and legislative change,” Blair said. “And I think it’s important not only to do the right thing, but to take the time to do it right.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked Blair last August to study the possibility of a ban on handguns and assault-style rifles after a shooting spree in Toronto.

A recently released summary of a federal consultation said Canadians were divided on the idea.

Still, Blair’s office said late last month that no options had been ruled out to clamp down on guns “designed to hunt people” as it weighed new options. Rumours of a federal ban on the popular AR-15 semi-automatic rifle began to circulate.

While Blair reiterated Tuesday there are firearms the government considers “so dangerous that there really is no place in a safe and civil society for them,” he made no firm commitment to ban or buy back such guns from owners.

Blair stressed a need to ensure secure storage, prevent people from buying firearms on behalf of criminals and deter smuggling of weapons into Canada from the United States, which he called “the largest handgun arsenal in the world.”

“There are a number of very effective measures that I believe that we can and must take to create a safer environment.”

Allowing municipalities to enact additional restrictions on handguns would not only be “wholly inadequate,” it would also be inefficient, said Heidi Rathjen, co-ordinator of PolySeSouvient, which wants an overhaul of the gun classification system with the ultimate aim of banning weapons specifically designed to kill people.

“All one has to do is consider the glaring disaster resulting from a patchwork of state and local gun laws south of the border,” she said Tuesday.

“And one has to ask: why would stricter controls on handguns be justified in cities and not in rural areas? It seems more like the Liberals chose not to deal with the highly politicized issue of banning handguns and instead decided to pass the buck to municipalities.”

The law already requires safe storage of firearms, but there has been a “significant increase” in the theft of large numbers of handguns from homes and retailers, with the guns ending up on the street in the wrong hands, Blair said.

He acknowledged there are responsible handgun owners who obey all the rules. “We may ask them to undertake additional measures to secure their weapons to make sure that they’re not vulnerable to being stolen.”

Public Safety Canada says 24 firearms were stolen from a shop in Prince Albert, Sask., by snipping one cable, raising concerns that the after-hours commercial storage regulations could be insufficient.

Some businesses “may not be fully compliant” with existing regulations, say department notes released through the Access to Information Act. However, chief firearms officers “indicate this is infrequent and businesses come into compliance quickly when non-compliance is identified.”

The RCMP says some businesses go beyond minimum requirements through measures including shatterproof glass in display cases, video-monitoring systems and alarms, safes bolted to the floor, deadbolt locks and solid doors instead of hollow ones for storage rooms.

— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press


If you like this, share it!
Continue Reading

june, 2019

fri21jun(jun 21)6:30 pmwed03jul(jul 3)12:00 amTHE WORKS ART & DESIGN FESTIVAL6:30 pm - (july 3) 12:00 am

sat22junmon01julEdmonton International Jazz Festival7:30 pm - (july 1) 9:15 pm

mon24jun1:30 pm4:00 pmWellness Recovery Action PlanningCanadian Mental Health Association1:30 pm - 4:00 pm

Trending

X