Confusion, frustration greet Liberals’ pension plan for disabled veterans

Confusion, frustration greet Liberals’ pension plan for disabled veterans

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government’s long-awaited plan to provide lifelong disability pensions to veterans has been met with confusion and frustration from many of those that it is expected to help.

Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan unveiled the new pension plan on Wednesday, more than two years after the Liberals promised it during the last federal election — and only days before Christmas.

The plan promises more money to injured veterans than the current suite of benefits, especially the most severely disabled who can’t work and continue to suffer from service-related injuries.

Yet it offers only modest increases to those on the other end of the spectrum, and continues to provide many with less than the previous lifelong disability pensions, which were abolished in 2006.

“We were focused in this program on those who are catastrophically injured,” O’Regan explained during a news conference at National Defence Headquarters.

“Those who have received a disability or an illness during their service. Those who have a hard time going back to work. Those who have a hard time, as they say, re-establishing themselves.”

The plan is expected to cost $3.6 billion over six years, and will take effect in April 2019.

Veterans and support groups were scrambling after the announcement to figure out exactly how the changes would affect them and their clients, citing a lack of detail as a major complaint.

“It’s confusing,” said Jim Lowther, president of VETS Canada, which support homeless veterans in different cities across the country. “We’ve been going over this all morning, but it’s very vague.”

Veterans receive financial benefits and compensation based on the extent of their injuries or disabilities and whether those factors have an impact on their post-military career and earnings.

The existing system, created in 2006, provides a lump-sum worth up to $360,000 for the most severely disabled, in addition to rehabilitation, career training and income support.

While veterans who want the money right away will still be able to choose the lump-sum payment, the Liberals are also giving them the choice of a monthly payment instead worth up to $1,150.

Those with severe or permanent disabilities will also be eligible for an additional new benefit worth between $500 and $1,500 per month. Both benefits are tax free.

Officials said the more than 61,000 veterans who have already received a lump-sum award will be assessed to determine how much they would have received per month. They will also be eligible for the new benefit, which officials said will be retroactive and could result in substantial one-time payments.

The government will also lump together six different benefits for veterans who can’t find work or whose post-military careers pay less than when they were serving in uniform.

Yet it wasn’t immediately clear who will be eligible for different elements of the new pension plan, or even which of the income-replacement programs will remain in existence after they are merged.

Disabled veterans

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS                                A sign is placed on a truck windshield as members of the advocacy group Banished Veterans protest outside the Veterans Affairs office in Halifax.

File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS A sign is placed on a truck windshield as members of the advocacy group Banished Veterans protest outside the Veterans Affairs office in Halifax.

Just Posted

SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, which causes COVID-19, emerge from the surface of cells isolated from a patient in the U.S. and cultured in a lab in a 2020 electron microscope image. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories
Alberta adds 463 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

The central zone has 818 active cases

Red Deer teacher Janelle Van Tetering had her students write letters to attach to Blankets of Hope, which will be donated to the Mustard Seed. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer teacher, students donate ‘Blankets of Hope’ to those in need

A Red Deer teacher and her students are giving warm blankets and… Continue reading

RCMP have charged a Sylvan Lake man for allegedly defrauding five people of more than $100,000.
Advocate file photo
20-year-old woman killed in collision: Blackfalds RCMP

A 20-year-old woman was killed in a collision on Saturday, says Blackfalds… Continue reading

Patrick Malkin, co-owner of The Granary Kitchen, says he wants the provincial government to lift COVID-19 restrictions that shutdown in-person dining. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer restaurant owner ‘frustrated’ in-person dining restrictions are still in place

Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced the restrictions won’t yet be eased this past Thursday

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta identifies 573 new COVID-19 cases, 13 deaths on Saturday

There are currently 9,727 active cases of the virus in the province

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

Toronto Maple Leafs' Alexander Kerfoot, centre, tries to get the puck past Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom, right, as Noah Hanifin looks on during first period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Morgan Reilly’s three assists lifts Maple Leafs to 3-2 win over Flames

Leafs 3 Flames 2 CALGARY — Morgan Reilly’s three assists helped the… Continue reading

Green Bay Packers' Adrian Amos (31) reacts after intercepting a pass intended for Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Mike Evans during the second half of the NFC championship NFL football game in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Road warriors: Bucs win 31-26 at Green Bay, reach Super Bowl

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ road… Continue reading

People arrive to be tested for COVID-19 at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, January 24, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Too soon to know if Canada’s COVID-19 case decline will continue, Tam says

MONTREAL — It’s still too soon to know whether the recent downward… Continue reading

Flowers are seen at the front door of Dr. Denis Vincent's dental practice in North Vancouver, B.C. on March 31, 2020, after he died of COVID-19. The British Columbia Dental Association has written a letter to Premier John Horgan urging him to include dentists in a priority group for the COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dentists, teachers disappointed they won’t be prioritized for vaccine in B.C.

VANCOUVER — Dentists and teachers are among the groups that are disappointed… Continue reading

Indiana Pacers guard Justin Holiday (8) shoots over Toronto Raptors forward DeAndre' Bembry (95) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Anunoby’s hot hand helps short-handed Raptors beat Pacers

Raptors 107 Pacers 102 INDIANAPOLIS — OG Anunoby scored a season-high 30… Continue reading

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

OTTAWA — Under fluorescent lights, Wendy Muckle surveys the supervised consumption site… Continue reading

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) headquarters Connaught Building is pictured in Ottawa on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. nbsp; THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Taxpayers’ watchdog sees complaints spike, raising worries about pandemic tax season

OTTAWA — Canada’s taxpayers’ ombudsperson says his office has seen a steep… Continue reading

Most Read