(CNN) — The families of Canadian citizens or permanent residents killed in the downing of a passenger plane in Iran will receive $25,000 per victim from the Canadian government to help with immediate needs, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.
The assistance, which could go toward funeral expenses and travel, will be delivered “in the coming days,” Trudeau said.
“I want to be clear: We expect Iran to compensate these families,” Trudeau told reporters at a news conference in Ottawa. “But I have met them (the families). They can’t wait weeks. They need support now.”
The announcement comes after Iran admitted last week that its military unintentionally shot down the Ukraine International Airlines flight shortly after takeoff January 8 from Imam Khomeini Airport near Tehran.
Fifty-seven of the 176 people aboard the flight were Canadian, Trudeau’s government has said.
“We haven’t looked at what the full compensation would end up looking like from Iran,” Trudeau said. “But I can assure you that any money from Iran to the victims would go straight to them — it wouldn’t be to reimburse the Canadian government.”
The downing of the plane came hours after Iran fired missiles at Iraqi military bases housing US troops in retaliation for a drone strike at Baghdad airport that killed Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.
The plane was bound for Ukraine’s capital, Kiev. Trudeau has said many of the passengers intended to fly on to Canada.
Iran’s military initially denied shooting down the plane before admitting to it several days later, saying the plane was “accidentally hit by human error.”
Iranian foreign minister expresses ‘profound regret’
Also Friday, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne discussed the plane’s downing with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Oman.
“Minister Zarif conveyed his profound regret for this terrible tragedy, and Minister Champagne noted that he had met with families of victims this week who are deeply hurt and angry,” according to a statement from Champagne’s office.
“The ministers discussed the necessity of full access to Iran for officials from Canada and other grieving nations to: provide consular services, assist in ensuring victim identification meets international standards and participate in a thorough and transparent investigation,” the statement reads.
Champagne and Zarif talked about “the need for a transparent analysis of the black box data, to which Iran agreed,” and about ” the duty Iran has towards the families of the victims — including compensation,” the statement says.
“Minister Zarif expressed his support for Iran continuing to work with Canada and all grieving nations in these respects,” the statement reads.
Remains of some victims will arrive soon, Trudeau says
So far, no remains of Canadian victims have been returned to Canada, Trudeau said.
“But we’re expecting the first ones to come back in the coming days,” he said.
It shouldn’t matter whether a victim was a dual national, because Iran recognizes the families’ desires about where the burials take place should take precedence, Trudeau said.
About 20 families have asked for their loved ones remains to be returned to Canada, Trudeau said.