Questioning the Health Minister in support of Canada’s Thalidomide survivors

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, for over 50 years the survivors of thalidomide have been forced to struggle alone. Successive federal governments have failed to support survivors and address the wrong. We will never know how many lives were devastated because of the decision to allow this drug in Canada, but the least we can do now is to provide adequate support and compensation to the 95 remaining survivors.

Does the minister agree that we all have a responsibility to show support to meet the needs of thalidomide survivors?

Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of Health, CPC): Mr. Speaker, of course this was an incredibly tragic event. While it happened in the 1960s, it reminds us all everyday about the importance of drug safety.

While there was a settlement in the 1990s, I understand there are ongoing health issues that these victims are experiencing. I have reached out to their organization, and I look forward to meeting with them and reviewing their proposal.

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, on Thursday the House will have the opportunity to debate this critical issue, and I hope that all members, including the minister, will show their support. Innocent people suffered because a system that was supposed to keep them safe made a terrible decision.

Thalidomide survivors have shown incredible resilience and resourcefulness, but they cannot fight this battle alone any longer. They need our support and they deserve our support. Will the minister agree to take the necessary and important steps to right the wrong?

Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of Health, CPC): Mr. Speaker, as I said, everyone in this House and across Canada recognizes the incredible tragedy of what happened in the 1960s, and it reminds us everyday why we have to have the strongest drug-safety system in the world. We are striving to do that under this government.

As I said, I have reached out to this organization. Its members have already met with my officials, and I look forward to meeting with them in person to review their proposal.