The Canadian federal government announced on Friday May 22 that most eligible thalidomide survivors will receive payments of either $75,000 or $100,000 annually, tax-free. Those victims requiring lower levels of support will receive $25,000 in pension.

Thalidomide was an over-the-counter morning sickness drug that caused over 10,000 babies to be born with various medical problems including severely deformed limbs, blindness, deafness, cleft palate, and internal deformities in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Other countries such as the UK and Germany have been paying victims annual pensions for decades.

It took the Canadian government over fifty years to provide a pension (some minor lump-sum payments were made in years past). The government fought against taking responsibility for the damage to survivors, despite the fact that the government had allowed the drug onto the market amid warnings from around the world about the tragic consequences of using the drug.