Born five weeks too late for Ottawa, thalidomide victim wins her case in Federal Court

Born five weeks too late for Ottawa, thalidomide victim wins her case in Federal Court
Born five weeks too late for Ottawa, thalidomide victim wins her case in Federal Court

OTTAWA | Thalidomide victims like Noëlla Hébert, whose request for compensation was immediately rejected by Ottawa because of her age, can remain hopeful that justice will one day be done to them.

• Read also: Thalidomide victims running out of patience despite Ottawa’s promises

The New Brunswicker was born five weeks too late to be eligible for Ottawa’s controversial compensation program, which has been failing since 2015.

“My most credible proof is my body,” says M in an interview.me Hébert. In my opinion, that should be enough to demonstrate to the government that I am a victim of thalidomide.”

Other tile

Last week, the Federal Court dealt another blow to the federal thalidomide survivors’ compensation program.

In 2019, after another court decision, Ottawa expanded the program to all victims of the infamous pill born between December 3, 1957 and December 21, 1967, but who did not have documentary proof such as a prescription.

However, this had the effect of excluding victims like Noëlla Hébert, who was born five weeks too late to be eligible in the eyes of the federal government. They therefore turned to the courts to overturn this criterion.

The Court of Appeal agreed with them last week, deeming this condition “unreasonable”.

Judge Peter Pamel criticizes the federal government for having established this criterion “without any reliable information on the quantity of thalidomide still available or on the shelf life of the drug at the time,” he writes.

Judge Pamel therefore ordered the program administrator to no longer take the age criterion into account.

By email, Health Canada left the door open to the possibility of appealing the judgment.

Respite

Noëlla Hébert is not asking for charity. She simply wants to be compensated for years of suffering and the exorbitant costs caused by her state of health, she says.

Eligible victims are entitled to a sum of $250,000, an annual disability pension and medical resources adapted to their needs.

“Everything, my whole life, has cost two or three times more than a normal person because nothing is accommodated for my deformities. Nothing, not even a chair,” she says on the line.

“Right now, I need a wheelchair, a ramp, a toilet, a shower, clothes, shoes,” she lists.

Thalidomide victims have until June 3 to submit a claim for compensation. However, they must be patient, as processing times can stretch over months, if not years.

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