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Dr. Charles Smith arrives at public hearings in January, 2008, during an inquiry into his testimony in cases involving the death of children.Kevin Van Paassen

The Ontario government has announced long-awaited compensation for victims of the province's forensic pathology scandal.

People who were charged or convicted in 19 cases based on erroneous evidence from disgraced pathologist Charles Smith will be eligible for "recognition" payments of up to $250,000, Attorney General Chris Bentley announced Tuesday.

"We are undertaking this approach because it's the right thing to do," Mr. Bentley told reporters.

Children who were removed from the homes of their accused parents will get up to $25,000. Family members affected by their relatives' involvement in the criminal justice system will receive up to $12,500. Legal costs may also be reimbursed.

Mr. Bentley said the compensation does not affect victims' rights to pursue civil claims. But if victims receive other government awards, the province will deduct the amount of their "recognition" payments.

Chester Misener, a retired Superior Court justice, will assess the cases in the next three months to determine each individual's payment. He will consider the following factors: loss of liberty; mental harshness and indignity; loss of reputation; effect on family and other relationships; and effect on earning and income.

In 2008, Mr. Justice Stephen Goudge concluded that Dr. Smith was an arrogant, unqualified pathologist whose biased, inconsistent and unprofessional testimony precipitated a string of wrongful murder charges and convictions.

In his report, Judge Goudge also singled out the province for blame, saying that top officials in the Office of the Chief Coroner developed a "symbiotic relationship" with Dr. Smith that led them to shield him for years from the scrutiny he so desperately required.

Judge Goudge recommended that Ontario look into providing swift redress for people who, "through no fault of their own ... suffered tragic and devastating consequences."

In October, 2008, Mr. Bentley raised the victims' hopes when he announced that a three-person committee headed by former associate chief justice of Ontario, Coulter Osborne, would recommend a fair compensation system "as expeditiously as they can."

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