Tories pressured to fix veterans’ charter

OTTAWA — The Conservative government, which long claimed its support of Canada’s military as a point of pride, faced mounting political pressure Monday to close lingering gaps in its long-championed veterans legislation.

OTTAWA — The Conservative government, which long claimed its support of Canada’s military as a point of pride, faced mounting political pressure Monday to close lingering gaps in its long-championed veterans legislation.

A leaked copy of a veterans ombudsman’s report — slated for release today but obtained over the weekend by The Canadian Press — confirms there are major problems with a system that was meant to care for and compensate former soldiers for injuries they sustained overseas, the New Democrats say.

The ombudsman’s office carried out a detailed comparison of benefits and entitlements between those under the new veterans charter and those from the old pension-for-life system, which had been used since the end of the First World War.

Hundreds of the most severely disabled soldiers will take a financial hit after they turn 65 when some charter benefits end, concludes the report by veterans ombudsman Guy Parent.

Those affected do not have military pensions and face the possibility of spending their final years in poverty, it notes.

The report also says the rates of compensation for pain and suffering are inadequate, and don’t even meet the level of what is handed out by Canadian courts in personal injury cases.

The Conservatives overhauled the veterans charter in 2011 following complaints that it was nowhere near as generous as the old system.

Those enhancements, which included more money to replace lost income, will be the subject of a review by a parliamentary committee this fall.

But the concerns and gaps regarding elderly veterans and lump-sum compensation payments have been around for a long time — and the government had the chance to deal with the problems two years ago, said NDP defence critic Jack Harris.

“It should have and could have been done before,” Harris said.

“The fact that this is still an issue is simply mean-spirited, especially since this government is fond of describing soldiers as this country’s greatest citizens.”

Former defence minister Peter MacKay often invoked the phrase in speeches.

Last week, Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino said the government would support the House of Commons veterans committee in its examination of the effect the government’s changes have had.

But there has already been “review after review after review,” Harris said, and veterans now expect action.

It remains unclear just how Tuesday’s report will impact an ongoing lawsuit by former service members who took part in the mission in Afghanistan.

The younger veterans are arguing that the new charter discriminates against them and provides less than to them than soldiers who served in the Second World War, Korea and on peacekeeping operations.

An actuarial study accompanying Parent’s report shows that under the new system, injured soldiers get more money up front in terms of loss of income support.

But compensation for non-economic loss — primarily the lump-sum payment for wounds — pales in comparison to the old pension system, the study shows.

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

Just Posted

Red Deer musician Lorry Boschman has written a song about love in the time of COVID-19. Proceeds from his single, Romance during a Pandemic, will be donated to the local United Way. (Contributed photo).
Local musician records a song about love in the time of COVID-19 — for charity

Lorry Boschman will donate some proceeds to the United Way

Preliminary data shows Alberta’s suicide rate declined in 2020 — but some mental health critics say it’s too early to draw any conclusions since more dire pandemic impacts are only now being felt. (metrocreative stock)
Alberta’s suicide rate seems to have declined in 2020

But some experts say it’s too early to credit the pandemic

The union representing workers at the Olymel meat processing plant in Red Deer confirmed the death of a worker on Wednesday. (Advocate file photo)
Union confirms death of worker from Olymel plant

An investigation by the UFCW 401 local has confirmed another death connected… Continue reading

Sunterra Market is preparing to open at Bower Place. (Photo from Facebook)
Sunterra Market to open in Red Deer in March

Bower Place to welcome grocery shoppers

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, March 2, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservative MP David Sweet joins chorus calling for end to COVID-19 restrictions

OTTAWA — A Conservative MP has joined the chorus of voices calling… Continue reading

The Onslow Belmont Fire Brigade is seen in Lower Onslow, N.S., Wednesday, April 22, 2020. The RCMP says two officers who fired towards a civilian and another RCMP officer during last year’s mass shooting will remain on administrative duties until internal inquiries are completed .THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
N.S. RCMP who shot at firehall on administrative duty during internal reviews of case

HALIFAX — The RCMP says two officers who fired towards a civilian… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. Efforts to increase Canada's ability to produce vaccines is among over 100 projects receiving new federal money. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Over 100 new projects to get $518 million in federal research funding

OTTAWA — Efforts to boost Canada’s ability to produce vaccines are among… Continue reading

Hassan Diab, whose allegations of involvement in a 1980 synagogue bombing were dismissed by French judges for lack of evidence, listens during a press release on the release of an external review on his extradition by the Justice Department on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Friday, July 26, 2019. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is signalling that Canada will stand up for Diab, an Ottawa sociology professor facing trial in France, following calls from human-rights advocates to intervene. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Trudeau signals support for Hassan Diab as Ottawa professor appeals case in France

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is signalling Canada will stand up… Continue reading

NDP MP Niki Ashton stands during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Thursday, April 26, 2018. Two prominent Jewish advocacy groups are voicing anti-Semitism concerns ahead of a public conversation between NDP MP Niki Ashton and former U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Jewish groups raise anti-Semitism concerns ahead of NDP MP’s chat with Corbyn

OTTAWA — Two prominent Jewish advocacy groups are voicing concerns about anti-Semitism… Continue reading

Major-General Dany Fortin, left, looks on as Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside up to $5 billion to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Public Health Agency of Canada budgets $5B for COVID-19 vaccines, treatments

OTTAWA — The Public Health Agency of Canada expects to spend up… Continue reading

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed optimism Wednesday that his government’s timeline for… Continue reading

UCP MLA for Lacombe-Ponoka Ron Orr. (File photo)
MLA Ron Orr: Benchmarks were achieved but goalposts were moved

Orr responds to concerns, calls on province to fully open Step 2

Most Read