Commons committee calls for modest changes to benefits regime for ex-soldiers

A House of Commons committee recommends a series of improvements to the federal government’s oft-maligned veterans charter — but not the wholesale change some ex-soldiers and advocates wanted to see.

OTTAWA — A House of Commons committee recommends a series of improvements to the federal government’s oft-maligned veterans charter — but not the wholesale change some ex-soldiers and advocates wanted to see.

The all-party committee is unanimously urging the government not to medically discharge soldiers before Veterans Affairs is ready to care for them and to guarantee benefits for life for the most seriously disabled vets.

Conservative MP Greg Kerr, the committee chairman, and New Democrat veterans critic Peter Stoffer both say they recognize the report won’t address all grievances, but call it an important step forward.

One of the biggest complaints is that the new charter isn’t as generous as the old pension-for-life system because it relies on a series of lump-sum payments for pain and suffering.

Stoffer says returning to the old system is not an option.

The committee says the lump-sum awards should at least match payouts in civilian courts, something the veterans ombudsman has also advocated.

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