Compensation for victims of 1974 grenade accident
On 30 July 1974, an accidental grenade explosion killed six cadets and injured dozens more at the CFB Valcartier cadet camp. More than 130 cadets and their adult instructors had assembled for training when a live grenade exploded. Years later, an instructor told CBC News that "the worst part was everyone being told to keep quiet about what happened by their superiors at the base."
At that time, health care for instructors was covered by DND, but cadets were not covered. James Richardson was the Defence Minister in the Liberal government at the time of the incident.
In May 2014, almost 40 years later, Rob Nicholson, then Conservative Minister of National Defence, approved a request for the Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to open and conduct an investigation into the incident. A report recommending compensation was released in July 2015 and Defence Minister Kenney committed to ensuring that affected individuals would have access to health care and compensation. Today, the government made good on that promise.
Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan announced a comprehensive program of financial recognition and health care support for the victims of the accidental grenade explosion. The program was informed "in large part by discussions with victims."
Recognizing that those affected by this tragedy have struggled with the long-term effects on their health, the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) created a compensation package and offers "regret that it took this long to formally recognize and address this tragedy."
A press release stated: "In recognition of their pain and suffering, all cadets in the room at the time of the explosion and non-professional first responders who were involved immediately after the explosion will be provided with a universal benevolent payment of $42,000. It is estimated that approximately 155 individuals will be eligible for the payment. Estates of the six cadets who tragically perished in the incident and of those who have passed away in the years since are also eligible to apply for this benevolent payment."
Incident-related health care costs not funded by provincial health care systems will be covered by DND and the CAF "for the remainder of their lifetime," noted the DND press release.
An additional benevolent payment of $58,000 will be provided to the estates of the six deceased cadets– for a total of $100,000 for each of the six estates. The estates of former cadets who have passed away in the years since the incident are also eligible to apply.
Affected individuals are also eligible to apply for an individualized benevolent payment for both physical and mental injuries sustained as a result of the incident. This payment will be determined based on individual circumstances, up to a maximum of $310,000 (including the universal benevolent payment).
Peer support and resiliency training is also being offered to those who wish to receive additional services from the CAF and extended to their spouses and children. Reasonable travel expenses will be reimbursed in the event that travel is required to take part in these sessions.
DND and the CAF urges former cadets who were in the room at the time of the explosion and any non-professional first responders who were involved immediately after the explosion to contact us at 1-844-800-8566 or email@example.com.