Trudeau announces $25K for families of Canadian PS752 victims
OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced Ottawa will pay $25,000 in compensation for each of the Canadian victims of the downed Ukrainian airline.
On Friday morning, PM Trudeau said the families of all Canadian citizens and the additional 29 permanent residents killed would be provided the financial allotment "to assist with their immediate needs, such as funeral arrangements and travel."
The announcement comes after the prime minister attended a closed-door meeting with the government’s Incident Response Group to discuss the crash and the ongoing investigation into how Flight PS752 was the shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile more than a week ago.
Trudeau said his team decided on the amount of compensation after consulting with victims' families about such needs as travel costs. Funding earmarked for the 57 Canadian citizens and 29 permanent residents who were killed when the airliner crashed brings the federal government’s total commitment to $2.1 million.
"It is not the compensation that we expect will come and should come from Iran in due course, but these families need help now and we will be getting this money to them as quickly as we possibly can in the coming days."
As previously announced, the government has also established a phone line and inbox for families with immigration-related requests, and is waiving or reimbursing travel visa costs.
Mental health services are also being made available for those affected.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne is in Muscat, Oman today, meeting with his Iranian counterpart Jayad Zarif. This will be the third time the two have spoken and first time they’ve met since the crash.
In a rare sermon during Friday prayers, Iran's supreme leader called the downing of the civilian airliner a bitter accident that saddened Iran and made its enemies happy.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran's international rivals have seized on the crash to question the country and its armed forces. He also attacked the United States for its killing of a top Iranian general, which was a factor in putting Iranian air defences on high alert, and called President Donald Trump a clown.
On Thursday, countries with victims in the crash – Britain, Sweden, Afghanistan, and Ukraine – met in London to deliver a succinct message to Tehran on priorities like access, compensation, and repatriating remains.
Their memo was clear: be prepared to respond in the form of financial reimbursement for families' losses.
"We are judging Iran every day, demand by demand," Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said after the meeting.
Trudeau on Friday said his team continues to push for more access to the black boxes to indicate what exactly happened in the minutes before the plane set ablaze but noted they were "significantly damaged" during the crash.
"Iran does not have the level of technical expertise and mostly the equipment necessary to be able to analyze these damaged black boxes quickly; there are only a few places in the world that can."
France, he noted, is one of those places and there is brewing "consensus" that sending them there would be a good start.
As to whether Iran is cooperating with the international community on their calls for a rigorous investigation, Trudeau said "so far, the people we’ve engaged with in Iran have been aligned with that wish."
A friend of one of the victims told CTV News on Friday she welcomes the prime minister’s announcement and efforts to seek justice for those impacted.
"We really appreciate what the prime minister started to do from the very first day. It was a big support and it really helped us, it helped the family, everyone," said Shadi Ashtari.
With files from CTV News’ Michel Boyer & The Canadian Press