All posts tagged House Committee on Veterans Affairs

Parliament Has No Obligation to Fight for Veterans, even though Veterans Fight and Die for Us

Sean Bruyea

In the coming days, Parliament will release a highly-controversial report on the embattled veterans legislation known as the New Veterans Charter (NVC). Will this report help repair or will it contribute to the immense broken trust government has provoked within an increasingly-disillusioned veteran community?

The forthcoming report is part of a legally-mandated “comprehensive review” in spite of the attempt by the minister claiming that he personally called for this review. Such politicking of veterans’ issues has plagued far too much of the Conservative questioning during the hearings. In place of substantive investigation, many Conservative members of committee, such as Parliamentary Secretary Parm Gill, have asked politically rhetorical questions, especially of those witnesses who questioned the government’s inaction: “Can you tell us you are aware that more money is spent today under the new Veterans Charter than under the Pension Act?”

The question was directed to Jim Scott who heads up Equitas Society, which is spearheading a lawsuit claiming the NVC violates fundamental Canadian rights while disadvantaging those veterans under the new legislation compared to the previous Pension Act. Scott obviously did not have internal departmental statistics, leaving this categorically incorrect assertion uncontested. However, in 2012-13, Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) paid out $1.6-billion under the Pension Act and only $552.3-million under the New Veterans Charter.… Read the rest

Veterans bang heads against Parliamentary, bureaucratic wall

Veterans on Remembrance Day, 2013, from The Hill Times

Sean Bruyea

The hue and cry from veterans and their families has not dimmed but grown stronger since 2005 when Parliament passed the legislation we now know as the ‘New Veterans Charter’ or NVC. Will Parliament take up veterans’ torch and finally make bureaucracy work for veterans? As the unaddressed recommendations accumulate, will the NVC become increasingly unfit to provide adequate shelter for our veterans and their families in the coming years?

Last week, the House Committee on Veterans Affairs wrapped up hearings on the NVC. We must remember that elected Members of the House of Commons have never debated nor given serious independent and binding consideration of the dramatic changes that the NVC made to the relationship between Canada and those who were and are prepared to lay down their lives in her service.

In good faith, far too many accepted the shoddy construction of the NVC because government promised to keep the renovations going. Near stagnant ‘incrementalism,’ a dirty word in the first 50 years of veterans’ benefits in Canada, has become the sad new social contract between Canada and, our veterans and their families.

Veterans Affairs Canada made pretenses to the glory of Canada’s post World War II veterans’ benefits.… Read the rest

Feds dilly-dallying with disabled veterans

Sean Bruyea

Disabled veterans and their families have been told to wait yet again while the House Committee on Veterans Affairs holds further hearings on the New Veterans Charter (NVC). An inundation of unanimous calls for government to act has been obscured by dilly-dallying, distraction and distortion on government’s part.

Government appointed advisory groups since 2006 have supplied more than 300 recommendations for change to the department and the NVC. I provided committee another 55. Government has chosen to play far too much politics with the recommendations or has frustratingly ignored unanimously endorsed elephants in the room.

One recommendation looks to increase the level of the Earnings Loss Benefit (ELB) which currently provides 75% of an injured member’s salary at time of military release. The languishing of this recommendation serves as a sad example of how most substantive recommendations are being thrown into the trash bin.

In response to this recommendation, elected officials and senior bureaucrats have been quick to march out one scenario from a 2013 report. Minister Fantino testified: “In fact, according to the Veterans Ombudsman, a 24-year corporal who is medically released from the military will now receive upwards of $2 million in total financial benefits because of improvements our government has made.”

Two million dollars sounds impressive until we break it down.… Read the rest