Hepatitis C victims'
$1-billion deal completed
-- Canada's tainted-blood tragedy has taken a major step toward closure
with completion of a $1-billion federal compensation deal for the so-called
An agreement, which
must still be approved by courts in several provinces, will provide
one-time payments for about 5,000 people who were infected with the
hepatitis C virus before 1986 or after 1990.
are working as quickly as possible to provide compensation," Health
Minister Tony Clement said in a news release yesterday.
The victims are called
forgotten because they were excluded from a previous $1.1-billion
federal-provincial compensation package announced in 1989.
Mike McCarthy, lead
plaintiff in an Ontario class-action lawsuit on behalf of the group,
praised Mr. Clement and the Conservative government for what he termed a
fair and equitable deal.
Former health minister
Allan Rock insisted there was nothing the government could have done to
protect the blood supply from hepatitis C before 1986, and therefore the
government was not liable.
That position became
hard to defend when evidence surfaced that tests capable of detecting
hepatitis C with reasonable accuracy were available long before 1986.
In 1998 all opposition
parties voted to extend compensation to the excluded victims but former
prime minister Jean Chrétien declared it a confidence matter and defeated
Prime Minister Stephen
Harper said in July his government would provide compensation to the
pre-1986 and post-1990 victims, and lawyers have since been working out
Peter Roy, a lawyer
involved in the negotiations, said victims or their survivors will receive
one-time payments based on factors including age at the time of infection,
lost earnings and illness severity.
"It's the most
complex settlement I've worked on in 31 years of practice," Mr. Roy
Mr. McCarthy said the
provinces have not contributed to the new settlement, and litigation
against them will continue.