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$50 million for merchant mariners

Those who served during Canada's wars expected danger at the hands of the enemy. But they were ill prepared for the fight that awaited some of them at home. Most veterans were welcomed home with open arms and assistance in putting their lives back in order. But several groups — native Canadians, Métis, merchant mariners and Hong Kong prisoners of war — found themselves ignored and denied the recognition and benefits so crucial to rebuilding their lives. For them, the fight would last another half century.

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It's been a long time coming. Today, some 55 years after the end of the Second World War, the federal government announces a compensation package of up to $50 million for merchant mariners of that war and the Korean War. As we see in this clip, the package (up to $24,000 for each surviving veteran) is almost too late to bring comfort and vindication for the dwindling numbers of sailors that remain, now mostly in their 80s.
. Demand for the compensation package had been seriously underestimated. In October 2000, new Veterans Affairs minister Ronald Duhamel added another $20 million to the merchant navy veterans fund due to the number of mariners that had come forward.
. In May 2001, Duhamel announced an additional $34 million, providing a full second payment for the 2,000 merchant navy veterans still living, plus surviving spouses.
. Duhamel's older brother Jean Baptiste Duhamel was a soldier who was killed in the Netherlands in 1945, at age 21.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Feb. 1, 2000
Guest(s): George Baker, Ward Duke, Allan MacIsaac, Charlie Moores, Chuck Murphy, Elsie Wayne
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Eric Sorensen
Duration: 2:52

Last updated: August 10, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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