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Ottawa Allocates Additional $36 Million to Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund

The federal government has injected an additional $36.4 million into a program aimed at supporting individuals who have suffered serious injuries or fatalities as a result of vaccines administered since late 2020. This program, initiated shortly after the introduction of COVID-19 vaccines to the public, offers financial compensation to those adversely affected by Health Canada-approved vaccines.

Initially, the Liberals allocated $75 million for the program’s first five years. Thus far, a private entity named OXARO has received $56.2 million from Ottawa to manage the program and disburse valid claims originating outside of Quebec. As of December, OXARO has paid out $11.2 million in compensation.

Quebec has maintained its own vaccine injury compensation program since 1985 and received $7.75 million when the federal program was launched. An additional $36 million has been earmarked by the Liberal government for OXARO and Quebec to cover the program’s next two years, as outlined in the recent federal budget.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has contracted OXARO to administer the program independently to ensure impartiality in the claims process. OXARO’s operations remain separate from PHAC, with no PHAC involvement in program delivery or claims assessment.

The program’s cost is contingent upon the number of compensation applications received. As of December, OXARO has received 2,233 claims and approved 138, though statistics do not specify the vaccines involved.

Launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, the program covers injuries and fatalities associated with vaccines approved for any ailment, administered after December 8, 2020. Although serious adverse reactions to vaccines are exceedingly rare—impacting less than one in a million people—the government is committed to providing assistance in such instances.

Less than a year later, Ottawa mandated COVID-19 vaccination for air or rail travel and federal public service employment. To qualify for compensation, patients or their beneficiaries must demonstrate severe, life-threatening, or life-altering injuries resulting in significant disability, incapacity, birth defects, or death.

Health Canada data indicate that over 105 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since December 14, 2020, with only 0.01% resulting in serious adverse effects. Among the 488 deaths reported post-vaccination, four were directly linked to the shot, according to the latest Health Canada report.

Quebec experienced a rise in claims to its vaccine injury compensation program during the pandemic, from one claim in 2020 to 98 in both 2021 and 2022. As of March 2023, only three of these cases had been approved for compensation.

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