Thalidomide survivors are optimistic about the new compensation package quietly announced by the federal government last week. “This is exactly what our late MP Gord Brown was fighting for on our behalf,” says Terry Bolton of Gananoque. “I know he would have been pleased with the results.”
Terry first approached the late Member of Parliament three years ago to explain the problems with previous compensation packages.
“You had to produce paper work that in many cases, such as mine, just wasn’t available,” he said. “They wanted letters from doctors, medical records, and other paper that has long since disappeared, been lost in fires, or otherwise disposed of.”
He notes that, when he explained the issue to Gord Brown, the MP immediately got to work and brought survivors to Ottawa for a news conference. When that didn’t produce the changes he wanted, he personally approached health committee members and other MPs. Finally, he hijacked a health committee meeting and made a 20 minute presentation on the issue while then health minister Jane Philpott was in the room.
“This led to two-days of study with expert witnesses from around the world as well as area people including me who testified about how a compensation package should be operated and what should be looked at,” notes Terry.
The new compensation package will be based on an algorithm, like that used in other jurisdictions, where they weigh factors such as the date you were born, the physical and health evidence of the survivor, and the likelihood that your mother could have taken the drug.
“In my case, I don’t have enough paper evidence; but, as I explained to the health committee at the meeting in Ottawa that Gord organized, since birth I have had all the other physical and health evidence,” he says.
Coming almost a year after his death, Terry says this is another lasting legacy of Gord Brown’s work on behalf of his constituents and survivors across Canada. He notes there are two or three people affected in Leeds-Grenville and the area.