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By Caroline Boschman
Lethbridge Herald

Jun 12, 2007, 22:39

The forgotten vict= ims of the tainted blood supply will soon be eligible for compensation.
Following Friday’s Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta approval of the $1 billion settlement, people who got hepatitis C from tainted blood and were left out of the first federal settlement, which covered those infected between 1986 and 1990, will receive restitution

The compensation is for people who were infected with hep C from = the Canadian blood system between Jan. 1, 1958 and Dec. 31, 1985 and between = July 2, 1990 and Sept. 28, 1998.

 That’s good news for southe= rn Albertans like Bruno Toews.=

 “I’m very hopeful it = will have a positive effect for all of us,” he said. “The way the economy has grown in our province, those of us who are on a fixed income = are now finding ourselves in a delicate financial position because we weren&#= 8217;t able to have a full work life.”

 Toews operated a successful dairy farm northeast of Lethbr= idge and was in the prime of life when he lost his left arm above the elbow in 1984.

“My hep C was contracted as the result of a farm accide= nt. I was given contaminated blood,” he said.

He knew something wasn’t right. He’d be exhausted while his farmer neighbours were still going strong. His morning cho= res tired him so much he’d have to rest until it was time to do evening chores. Doctors couldn’t pinpoint the problem. Then in 1997, he got= a phone call from his doctor and found out the Red Cross had flagged his ca= se.

“It never occurred to me I was struggling with a blood disorder. In one sense, (the diagnosis) brought great relief; it wasn’t something in my head,= 221; Toews said.

At age 57, just wh= en he could start to see light at the end of the farm mortgage tunnel, he ha= d to give up farming. He sold the farm to his sons and still helps out when he can.

The disease will be with him and nearly 6,000 Canadians for life. In some cases, the compensa= tion will go to surviving family members of victims.

“It’s = been a long, long struggle,” Toews said, add= ing he’s grateful to everyone who’s worked on his and other victims’ behalf, including his medical team and lawyers.=

Vaughn Marshall, c= lass counsel in the class action and a member of the plaintiff’s national negotiation team, is also pleased with the result.

“It’s a very good thing. When you do settlements in large cases, it’s the b= est result for the greatest overall number of people,” he said. “= There will always be people that don’t get exactly what they would have l= iked to have gotten.”

He hopes the administrator of the class action will start taking applications for the settlement by mid to late August. After that, compensation should soon fl= ow to victims or their estates.

“Class couns= el have been working since the court hearings in February on all of the protocols and related matters so that the administrator will be in the position to act almost immediately at the date of implementation,” = Marshall said.

After an applicati= on has been made, the claim and supporting information goes to the administr= ator who determines the compensation based on the level of disease and the imp= act it has had on the individual.

Victims will recei= ve a lump-sum payment based on current health status, age and the likelihood of disease progression.

Victims can watch = for notification in newspapers starting in July. Those affected can negotiate= the process independently, but Marshall’s experience with complicated l= egal cases makes him advocate otherwise.

“Because of = the complexity of the case people are advised to initially talk to one of the class counsel to determine if they require further legal help in processi= ng the claim,” he said.

© Copyright b= y Lethbridge Herald.com

 

 

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