The families of 158 Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan who were initially told to pay their own way to a commemoration event in Ottawa will receive new letters telling them their travel, hotel and meal expenses will be covered.

The letter from National Defence Minister Rob Nicholson says the Canadian Armed Forces “will provide full transport, accommodation and meals to the fallen’s parents, spouse and children, with some flexibility for certain personal circumstances.”

Families who plan to attend the National Day of Honour ceremony on May 9 are asked to contact their local Integrated Personal Support Centre, which will co-ordinate their travel arrangements.

It’s a decidedly different tone from a previous letter sent to the families, which said: “your attendance would be at your own expense.”

After CTV News obtained the initial letter, Nicholson said it contained “false information” and was sent out prematurely.

The original invitation had upset many families who said they couldn’t afford the cost of the trip.

The families will arrive in Ottawa on May 8 and depart May 10. The Canadian Armed Forces will cover their hotel expenses for the two nights, food, return flights and the cost of transportation to and from the airport.

A source told CTV News that Nicholson personally intervened to get the trip expenses covered, blasting his own department for the initial letter.

Letter to families