There's only one week left for survivors of Indian residential schools to file abuse claims with the federal government — and the offices receiving the claims have been extra busy.
"We expected the applications to increase in the last couple of months ... and that has happened," said Daniel Ish, Canada's chief adjudictor for abuse claims. "In the month of August, there were over 1,500 applications."
The five-year period to apply for compensation expires on Sept.19.
Anybody who hasn't already done so, should get their forms in the mail as soon as possible, Ish said.
"We do not want people to be shut out," Ish said.
The good news is that the initial paperwork required isn't extensive, he added. The applicant's name, school, years of attendance, and some information about the abuse that occured should be included on the forms, but the details can be provided later, he said.
By the 19th, the government expects to have received about 29,000 applications, with more than one in five coming from Saskatchewan. These are from aboriginal people who say they were sexually or physically abused at residential schools.
About $1.6 billion has already been paid out under the program. The remainder of the claims should be settled over the next two years, Ish said.
The schools, typically run by churches under the supervision of the federal government, were mainly set up in the early part of the 20th century, with the last one closing in the 1990s. Thousands of former students have alleged they were sexually or physically abused by staff or fellow students.
Compensation can range from $5,000 to $275,000 and possibly more if loss of income is added, according to the government.
Under a separate process, former students who attended the schools were eligible for additional compensation, with the amounts varying depending on how long they attended.
The period to apply for that compensation — called Common Experience payments — has expired, although some exceptions can be made in case of hardship. In those situations, the deadline is Sept. 19.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has apologized to former residential school students on behalf of the Canadian government.