After decades of waiting, Canadian victims of thalidomide are celebrating a recent announcement by the federal government.
On Friday, the health minister announced yearly payments for those suffering from the effects of the drug — prescribed to pregnant mothers in the '60s — in amounts of $25,000, $75,000 and $100,000. The drug caused serious birth defects.
For Calgarian Marie Olney, who was born with extremely short arms, it means she can breath a little bit easier.
"I'm very pleased," she said. "I think I can do some planning now. I can manage a lot safer than I have been managing and take care of some needs that I've been putting off."
The federal government announced one-time lump sum payments in March but withheld information about annual pensions. The Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada — frustrated by a lack of details — gave Ottawa until Monday to come up with a plan.
Association president Mercedes Benegbi is thrilled with the last-minute announcement, saying more than 70 per cent of survivors will receive at least $75,000 per year.
"We believe that this funding will make a profound difference in the lives of survivors and provide them with meaningful support for the rest of their lives," she said.
The federal government says there will be a mandatory review every five years to ensure the needs of more than 90 Canadian survivors continue to be met.