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A reporter reads through the Missing Women’s Commission of Inquiry, shortly after it was made public in Vancouver on Dec. 17, 2012.

Ben Nelms/Reuters

Nearly 80 people have applied for compensation that the province agreed to pay to the children of missing and murdered B.C. women.

The government said on Thursday in its final update on the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry that 77 people have started the process of obtaining the $50,000 a person in compensation.

The payments – announced earlier this year and for which 98 children of 67 women were deemed eligible – were key recommendations of a public inquiry that reviewed police investigations into dozens of missing and murdered women, including those killed by Robert Pickton.

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The payments are intended to help family members "progress with their lives," and the government said more than 75 per cent of recommendations from the 2012 review are complete or under way.

Concerns over missing and murdered aboriginal women have heightened since the murder in August of Tina Fontaine, a 15-year-old who was found dead in the Red River in Winnipeg, and the brutal November assault on Rinelle Harper, 16, also in Winnipeg.

Those incidents, although not directly connected, have become a catalyst for calls for a national inquiry.

B.C. Attorney-General and Justice Minister Suzanne Anton said work would continue on implementing the recommendations, including those designed to improve safety along the so-called Highway of Tears, a stretch of Highway 16 where 18 women have been murdered or gone missing over the past few decades.

The 2012 report included two urgent measures: funding for 24-hour drop-in centres for sex workers and an enhanced public transit system to connect northern communities, particularly along Highway 16.

It also included 63 recommendations.

"While today's report provides our final, official update on two years of progress since Commissioner [Wally] Oppal released his report, I want to be clear that our action on his recommendations will continue," Ms. Anton said on Thursday in a statement.

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"I know Transportation Minister Todd Stone and his ministry are continuing to build on the extensive meetings they've had with First Nations and community leaders around transportation challenges along the Highway 16 corridor."

That 700 kilometres between Prince Rupert and Prince George has long been a source of concern because of a lack of safe, reliable transportation on the route. Many of the women who went missing there had been hitchhiking. Community leaders have been calling for better transportation since at least 2006, when a symposium report recommended a shuttle bus.

To date, that has not happened. The province has taken some steps, including boosting cellular coverage along the corridor, which is now at about 70 per cent. In its final report on Thursday, the government said it had committed $1.5-million for bus service, saying the money would go to Crown-owned B.C. Transit to partner with local communities for weekday travel.

Carrier Sekani Tribal Chief Terry Teegee said he hoped for a regular shuttle service.

"We haven't seen anything yet," Mr. Teegee said. "In eight years, we have been pressing them [the government] to have some sort of commitment."

Of the 33 women whose DNA was found on Mr. Pickton's farm, 12 were aboriginal.

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Mr. Pickton was arrested in 2002. In 2007, he was convicted of the second-degree murder in the deaths of six women and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

Twenty charges of first-degree murder were stayed because he already faced the toughest sentence possible under Canadian law.

In his report, Mr. Oppal noted that a disproportionate number of the missing and murdered women were aboriginal. While aboriginal women account for 3 per cent of B.C.'s population, they made up about 33 per cent of the missing and murdered women who were the subject of the inquiry.

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