All posts tagged Pension Act

Veterans trapped under government’s sweeping budget omnibus steamroller

Finance Minister Joe Oliver, pictured with his top officials Brian Ernewein and Jeremy Rudin May 6 at the House Finance Committee

Sean Bruyea

Government budget omnibus bills are abominations of democracy swallowing huge swaths of policy revisions in one gulp, often for the bad. Hidden in the depths of Bill C-31, the latest omnibus budget bill, is a veterans’ benefit time bomb set to explode on both politicians and our most disabled veterans.

On May 29, 2012, coincidental with the announcement to not appeal the class action lawsuit involving the Canadian Armed Forces long term disability insurance plan known as SISIP, the Government of Canada committed to cease the offsetting of pain and suffering monthly payments from the Veterans Affairs own long term disability plan known as the Earnings Loss Benefit or ELB.

ELB is a key pillar of the controversial legislation commonly known as the New Veterans Charter. The omnibus budget bill provides retroactivity in returning to veterans the Pension Act pain and suffering deductions of ELB from May 29 to September 30, 2012.

During the launch of the New Veterans Charter including the Earnings Loss Benefit program on April 6, 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised that “Our troops’ commitment and service to Canada entitles them to the very best treatment possible.… Read the rest

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