On Jan. 9, Ginette Petitpas Taylor, federal health minister, announced the launch of a new financial support program for eligible Canadian thalidomide survivors. In the 2018 budget, the Government of Canada recognized that some thalidomide survivors may have been excluded by the eligibility criteria under the Thalidomide Survivors Contribution Program (TSCP) and committed to addressing this concern to help ensure that all eligible thalidomide survivors receive the financial support they need.
The Canadian Thalidomide Survivors Support Program (CTSSP) will replace the TSCP. CTSSP will provide a fair and comprehensive approach to identifying thalidomide survivors that is based on international best practices. The program will include a tax-free, lump sum payment to each survivor to help cover urgent health care needs, ongoing annual payments based on level of disability, and an Extraordinary Medical Assistance Fund (EMAF) to support survivors with extraordinary medical expenses such as specialized surgery not otherwise covered by provincial/territorial health care plans or home or vehicle adaptations.
Applicants who are eligible for the CTSSP will receive an ex gratia payment of $250,000 and ongoing tax-free payments. In addition, to account for an anticipated increase in the number of recognized thalidomide survivors, funds available through the EMAF will increase from $500,000 to $1,000,000 per year.
Survivors already supported by the TSCP will automatically transfer to the CTSSP and will continue to receive their benefits. They will also receive an ex gratia payment of $125,000 to equalize the ex gratia payments to survivors under the two programs.
The application period for the CTSSP will launch in spring 2019 and remain open for five years. More information will be made available when the program is launched.