I suspect the government deliberately exaggerated the numbers to bolster its argument that the health care system would be bankrupt.
In conversation with Jeremy Beaty, head of the Hepatitis C Society of Canada, he too agrees that the numbers have been exaggerated. He believes the total number could be as low as 25,000 to 30,000 Canadians.
It seems to me the government has not been forthright. The government has not been honest with regard to the numbers because it simply wanted to, as I indicated, bolster its argument.
Having made the argument now that 60,000 people were infected by the blood system, it seems to me that the level of compensation should be based on that number. They came up with the figure of $1.1 billion and presumably the health minister agreed that was a fair amount. I do not know how they picked that amount, not knowing the exact numbers and how they assessed every case.
As a lawyer, the Minister of Health ought to know that each case might in fact be treated differently in a court of law, depending on the extent of injury or harm caused to the individual. We know that hepatitis C will affect people in different ways. We know a certain percentage will die. Others will lead relatively normal lives. Fatigue may set in, extreme fatigue.
A court when considering these matters and in setting the quantum of damages will determine the extent to which the individuals have been harmed as the result of negligence.