Saskatchewan

Thalidomide victim Alvin Law says Ottawa must help more

A Saskatchewan thalidomide survivor is adding his voice to those who say people impacted by the drug are entitled to financial help from the Canadian government.

Saskatchewan-born motivational speaker says victims are all in their 50s now

A Saskatchewan thalidomide survivor is adding his voice to those who say people impacted by the drug are entitled to financial help from the Canadian government. 

Thalidomide was prescribed in the early 1960s to expectant mothers to help combat nausea, but instead resulted in babies being born with missing limbs and other problems.

Saskatchewan's Alvin Law's birth mother took the drug and as a result, he was born with no arms. He was put up for adoption and brought up by a family that encouraged him to be self-sufficient.

Law, a member of the Thalidomide Victims' Association of Canada, went on to a successful career as a motivational speaker. 

Law says Canadian thalidomide victims are the only ones in the world who do not have support for care later in their lives.

These people are left with the fate that they're going to have to look after themselves.- Alvin Law

Many victims of the drug, like himself, have become become a part of society as much as they can, but that has meant putting their bodies through stresses they weren't designed to take.

On the other hand, some survivors have spent their lives in their parents' homes and never were able to live independently, he said.

"Let's do the math. We're all in our 50s. I'm  54. Our parents — my parents are gone — parents are passing away, the caregivers are leaving," he said.

"So now these people are left with the fate that they're going to have to look after themselves."

NDP tabling motion

The federal New Democrats are seeking support from Parliament for a motion recognizing that new financial support should be offered to survivors of thalidomide, as requested by the Thalidomide Survivors Taskforce.

Law said the support being requested could be pensions or other forms of compensation.

"It's not like a lawsuit. It is simply just requesting the government take another look at how it supports the survivors of a drug that it allowed into the country way back in 1959," Law said.

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