25 July 2006

Now the file is closed

I was happy to read this in my email inbox today:

Prime Minister Harper announces agreement to compensate pre-1986/post-1990 hepatitis C victims

July 25, 2006Cambridge, Ontario

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced today that the federal government has reached an agreement on the elements of a settlement for those Canadians who contracted hepatitis C from the blood system before January 1, 1986 and after July 1, 1990. Prior to the Prime Minister's announcement, only those victims who were infected between 1986 and 1990 were eligible for compensation.
"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 government, we're acting upon it," said the Prime Minister. Under the terms of the agreement announced today, Canada's new government will set aside nearly $1 billion in a special settlement fund, the sole purpose of which will be to provide compensation to those who were infected prior to January 1, 1986 and after July 1, 1990. The level of compensation will be based on the principle of parity with compensation already provided by the federal government for those who were infected between 1986 and 1990.
The Prime Minister added that the agreement announced today provides the foundation for a detailed final agreement. Once this is completed and approved by the courts in four provinces, an application and review process will be established to ensure that compensation is provided as quickly and effectively as possible.
"Because these victims have waited long enough for what is due to them, our government is going to do everything in its power to ensure that matters are moved ahead as quickly as possible," added the Prime Minister. Further details on the agreement and other issues related to compensation for those infected with hepatitis C through the blood system can be found in the backgrounder attached to this news release.
Back when I was a young lad in high school, this file was one of the first things to catch my attention politically. Hearing the then-Health Minister, Allan Rock, callously state, "The file is closed," after the Liberal government's initial decision for a limited compensation package really rubbed me the wrong way. Though I eventually did join the Liberal Party, I never liked Rock and seeing him bumble his way through nearly every successive post he held made me wonder why they kept him around. So I was pleased that the current government has made amends and will be compensating all people who received tainted blood from the Red Cross.
This probably isn't a major issue for a lot of people, but it's something that has always stuck with me, and seeing the Harper government do the right thing and redress an old wrong is a really sharp move on his part.

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