Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge the historic steps taken by Parliament and the Government of Canada in addressing the suffering caused to mothers, children and families by the drug thalidomide.
Thalidomide survivors and their families have waited a long time for this day to come.
It bears repeating in this chamber that the survivors and their families waited more than 50 years for the Canadian government to acknowledge the hardships they endured as the result of using a drug approved by our government.
Finally, on December 1 of last year, parliamentarians united to urge the government to provide the survivors with the support they needed to live out their lives with dignity and respect.
I would like to thank all of the members for coming together to correct this injustice, and I want to thank the minister for the work she did to set up a program for survivors that provides them the ongoing assistance they need.
On behalf of the New Democratic Party, I want to thank the survivors and their families, and the organizations they worked with, the Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada and the task force for their tireless efforts, in particular to pay tribute to Mercedes Benegbi, who is as graceful as she is tenacious. It was a true honour to get to know Mercedes and work with her for these past few months.
In closing, it has been said many times that no amount of financial support can ever undo what happened, but it is our hope that going forward they are able to live the rest of their lives with dignity and respect.