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Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan holds a news conference in the foyer of the House of Commons in Ottawa on March 6, 2017. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan holds a news conference in the foyer of the House of Commons in Ottawa on March 6, 2017. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Feds apologize, to compensate cadets in deadly 1974 grenade blast Add to ...

The federal government will provide financial compensation as well as health support for dozens of former cadets who were unfairly treated following a deadly grenade explosion more than 40 years ago.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan formally apologized Thursday to the survivors for the delay in addressing the tragedy, which saw a grenade explode inside a crowded cadet camp barracks in Valcartier, Que., on July 30, 1974.

The accident, which occurred after a live grenade was mixed with several dummies, killed six teens between the ages of 13 and 15 and left dozens more with lifelong physical and psychological injuries.

The families of the boys killed in the explosion will each receive a one-time payment of $100,000.

All survivors or their families will be eligible for a one-time payment of $42,000 and will be allowed to apply for additional compensation of up to $310,000 for pain and suffering.

National Defence estimates up to 155 former cadets will be eligible.

National Defence will also cover any related health-care costs that are not covered by provincial health plans for the rest of a survivor’s life.

While an official board of inquiry was conducted after the incident, current Canadian Armed Forces ombudsman Gary Walbourne released a scathing report in 2015 that blasted the military’s handling of the tragedy.

Walbourne, whose investigation was prompted by complaints from several survivors, found the boys had been treated unfairly compared with their instructors and other military personnel involved.

Thursday’s settlement came after lengthy negotiations prompted by Walbourne’s report.

The ombudsman issued a separate report in January that found even today, cadets injured or killed while in uniform do not get adequate support or benefits.

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