TVAC and its mission


The Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada is a non-profit charitable organization, which represents over a hundred Canadians who were born disabled as a result of the thalidomide drug, a drug prescribed in the late fifties and early sixties to pregnant women to relieve morning sickness. Members of the organization define themselves as "thalidomiders".  Regrettably, four of our members passed away over the course of the last few years as a result of their precarious health situation; this reaffirms the importance of TVAC’s mission to provide preventive assistance to our members via TVAC’s Accommodation Program.

Mission Statement

The Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada exists to empower its members and to improve their quality of life.

The Thalidomide Victims Association was founded to provide peer support, information exchange, non-monetary programs and services, and to promote the interests of Canadian thalidomiders.

 Among other things:

  • TVAC publishes the “REACTION” newsletter, a quarterly information bulletin where members have the opportunity to share their opinions and experiences. This newsletter also broadcasts a variety of information on various topics of interest to Canadian thalidomiders.
  • TVAC also publishes the “INTERACTION” news sheet, which is the regular contact point between the office and the membership. It was designed to give our members short clips of fresh TVAC news between “REACTION” issues.
  • Occasionally, TVAC organizes regional and national information and training activities that allow Canadian thalidomiders to get together and benefit from the support, caring and sharing provided by their peers.
  • On a regular basis, TVAC provides sympathetic listening over the special phone line as well as support and referral services to all of its members across Canada.
  • In 1995, TVAC created an “Accommodation Program” tailored to the specific needs of its members. The objective of this program is to ensure that each Canadian thalidomide victim can maintain and expand his or her autonomy in accomplishing all the daily activities, and that he or she can also participate in community activities. It covers, among others, various forms of assistance such as:
    • Home accommodation and vehicle adaptation
    • Job training and workplace accommodation
    • Technical assistance for getting dressed and preparing meals
    • Assistance in times of distress

Our “Accommodation Program” is financed exclusively through funding by private companies and the general public.

In addition, now with thalidomide being re-introduced on the market, TVAC has taken on the mission of informing the public about the devastating effects of this drug and advocates caution and vigilance in the use of any currently available teratogenic product. TVAC is also committed to gathering and disseminating information, as accurately as possible, on the original tragedy. Through this commitment, TVAC makes sure that the thalidomide tragedy is never forgotten and, consequently, that the medical community, health care decision-makers and the pharmaceutical industry become the promoters of an ethical and fully accountable system for managing the research, prescription and marketing of all medications, but most especially those that are teratogenic.

In order to promote the interests of its own members as well as the welfare of the entire community of disabled persons in Canada, TVAC takes pride in its membership in the following organizations:

As the thalidomide tragedy originated in Europe before being spread over five continents, TVAC is also in contact with other national and regional organizations throughout the world. These organizations, as is the case with TVAC, also represent thalidomiders.

To find out more about how you, as an individual or as a company, can support TVAC’s initiatives in its mission on behalf of Canadian thalidomiders and the wider public, do not hesitate to contact us.

A bit of TVAC history

The Promise:

"It is our job to ensure that these [thalidomide] victims are cared for in the best possible manner, that their needs are met to the fullest extent we can devise and to ensure, as much as possible, that a similar tragedy will never occur again."

The Honourable J.W Montieth, Minister of Health and Welfare - January 29, 1963

The Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada was formed in December 1987 with the assistance of the War Amputations of Canada. It was originally founded to support the efforts of the War Amps’ Thalidomide Task Force set up to seek compensation for Canadian-born thalidomide victims.   The objective of this action was to remind the Canadian government of the promise its Health Minister made in 1963 and the government’s obligations towards the victims.

The five founding thalidomide victims were:

  • Randolph Warren
  • Gavin Bamber
  • Paul Murphy
  • Alvin Law
  • Jim Bresnahan

On June 23, 1988, TVAC was incorporated under Part II of the Canada Corporations Act.

The first gathering of Canadian thalidomide victims was held in Ottawa, from August 2nd to 4th, 1988, to celebrate the creation of the organization

On December 15th, 1991, TVAC was restructured into its present form, which requires it to be wholly managed and controlled by its members.

TVAC has been recognized as a charitable institution since May 1st, 1992