Mr. Speaker, it is not possible to give a detailed response to each question for the following reasons: the confidential nature of the information, the terms of the court supervised settlement agreement, and the nature of how data is collected. The following provides information on the settlement agreement and the administrator’s most recent update on the funds.
On compassionate grounds, the federal government set aside $1.023 billion ($962 million for compensation, the balance for administration, legal fees and disbursements). Of the compensation amount, $93.1 million was designated for the Past Economic Loss and Dependants (PELD) fund.
The Pre-86/Post-90 class action settlement is a court supervised administration. The administrator, Crawford Class Action Services, was appointed by the courts, is supervised by the courts, and reports to the courts. The administrator is not permitted to release any information about the administration of the settlement unless authorized by the court. Authorized information about the status of claims is posted monthly on the administrator’s website: http://www.pre86post90settlement.ca/index.htm.
Compensation to eligible class members is provided for both general and economic damages. Payments to individual claimants will vary.The amounts paid reflect the disease state of class members at the time of their application, their age, any lost income, and the probability of disease progression. The agreement is designed so that those who are most sick and have suffered the most from their hepatitis C infection will receive the highest amounts of compensation, as was the case with the 1986-1990 agreement. Hepatitis C has varying effects on the human body, and the compensation plan is structured to reflect this fact.
The agreement includes schedules for calculating the amount of compensation for infected persons, their estates, family members and dependants, both for general compensation and for past loss of income. These documents are available on the administrator’s website under the heading Settlement Agreement--Appendices.
Persons infected with hepatitis C are entitled to general damages from under $10,000 to more than $400,000. The lowest amount of payment is for those who have essentially cleared hepatitis C from their blood, while the higher amounts are for those suffering from serious health effects.
Economic damages include payments for loss of income and services, uninsured medication and treatment costs, care costs and out-of-pocket expenses, compensation for funeral costs, and payments to estates and surviving family members. Subject to certain provisions and limits, eligible class members are entitled to compensation for loss of income in an amount equal to 8/11ths of 70% of their past loss of net income, indexed to inflation, for each year until they attain the age of 65 years.
The administrator’s most recent update, dated August 26, states that, as of mid-August, 15,584 claims have been received, of which 11,695 (75%) have been approved and 1,241 (8%) have been rejected, leaving 2,648 still being processed. These figures concern the total number of claims and are not separated into compensation fund and PELD fund categories. Of the $962 million set aside for compensation, $779,057,986 has been approved for payment, leaving approximately $183 million, not counting accrued interest.
The amounts designated for the PELD fund and for the main compensation fund, as well as an estimate of the number of individuals who would be compensated, were the result of a complex negotiation process between a group of lawyers representing the class members and counsel for the government, based upon underlying estimates of class size provided by class counsel.
The settlement agreement was approved by the courts of the provinces where the class actions were filed. The settlement agreement contemplates that, if the take-up rate for claims to the PELD fund is high, the administrator may exhaust the original $93.1 million. Therefore, the settlement contains a mechanism to top up the PELD fund if approved by the Court.
It is the responsibility of class counsel, not of the administrator, nor of the government, to apply to the courts to transfer money from the compensation fund to the PELD fund.
The settlement agreement sets out the requirements for the application, as well as the criteria the courts must consider in deciding whether to approve the request to transfer funds. Class counsel must demonstrate to the courts, through actuarial evidence that will be reviewed by the government, that the compensation fund is sufficient to cover all the claims, as defined in the settlement agreement, prior to transferring funds to the PELD fund. This process ensures that all claimants’ interests are protected and the federal government is following that process.
Class counsel have advised that work with their expert to conduct the necessary actuarial analysis has begun and they will be filing a motion for the transfer of funds in due course.