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'Forgotten' hepatitis C victims to share $1B

6,000 Canadians left out of original settlement


CanWest News Service

Saturday, December 16, 2006


OTTAWA - Details of a $1-billion compensation deal for the "forgotten" victims of the tainted blood scandal who contracted hepatitis C were revealed Friday.

The final settlement agreement, reached between Ottawa and the complainants, will have to go to the courts for approval, Health Minister Tony Clement said.

The deal affects people infected with hepatitis C from the blood system before Jan. 1, 1986, and after July 1, 1990.

These so-called "forgotten" victims, estimated to number about 6,000, were left out of a $1.18-billion deal announced eight years ago by the former Liberal government of Jean Chretien, which limited payments to people infected with blood-borne diseases between 1986 and 1990.

"Two steps remain before these people begin to receive compensation payments," Clement said in a news release Friday.

"The first is to seek approvals of the courts in British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec and Ontario, where the class actions are filed. The second step is the creation of the administrative structure to receive and to evaluate applications."

The federal government will set aside over $1 billion -- composed of $962 million for compensation, $20 million in administrative costs, $37.29 million in legal fees plus applicable taxes, and $500,000 in disbursements plus applicable taxes -- for the agreement.

Calgary hepatitis C victim Brenda Assailly, 46, welcomed the progress made on the settlement, but said the main thing is the acknowledgement that a wrong was done.

"It's really not the money, it's more the fact that somebody did a wrong to me and justice is finally being served."

When Assailly gave birth to her third daughter in December 1978, there were complications and she was given several units of blood.

Twelve months later -- her daughter, Simone, a one-year-old toddler -- Assailly learned she'd contracted hepatitis C.

Her skin turned the unusual orange-yellow colour and she was tired all the time.

Four years ago, after an aggressive treatment that included six daily pills and weekly injections over a 48-week period, she thought she was cured.

This summer, she again tested positive and has once again started the treatment regime.

"I don't know what the future's going to hold. I might die from this, but I'm not giving up without a fight. I choose to keep going."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the $1-billion compensation package last July.

© The Edmonton Journal 2006


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