All posts tagged Veterans Review and Appeal Board

Can O’Regan avoid putting his foot in veterans’ mouths?

Hill Times file photo

This piece was first published in the Hill Times on September 18, 2017.

If the first public comments of newly appointed Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan are anything to go by, veterans and the governing Liberals should be worried. The Trudeau government will have to understand veterans far better. They also should be eager to do more than they promised if they wish to reverse seven decades of ghettoizing veterans and their families into arbitrary castes and classes.

O’Regan, in his first advertised action, visited the Veterans Affairs (VAC) bureaucracy in Charlottetown, P.E.I., the only federal department with its head office located outside Ottawa: “I decided to make it a top priority that I get out here and meet people as quickly as I can.”

For those who have battled VAC over the years, and sometimes decades, it is the senior bureaucracy in Charlottetown that has been the principal source of an often dismissive and antagonistic relationship with veterans and their families. It is not unlike Ottawa’s paternalistic and hostile treatment of Canada’s Indigenous peoples. That the minister thought his “top” (and first) priority was the senior bureaucracy and not veterans, sounds a foreboding trumpet call.… Read the rest

There’s no accountability at Veterans Affairs Canada

The article below was first published in Ottawa’s Hill Times on February 27, 2012

By Allan Cutler and Ian Bron

Three weeks ago, John Larlee, chair of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board, responded to an op-ed written by Sean Bruyea. Bruyea’s comprehensive evidence and testimony effectively called Larlee to account for the failure of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board (VRAB) to provide dignified and adequate recourse for veterans as guaranteed by Canadian law.

What struck us as most curious about Larlee’s letter was its near complete lack of a substantive rebuttal to Bruyea’s original article. And since then, a scandal has arisen inside the VRAB which challenges Larlee’s missive.

To begin with, Larlee ignores the fact that in the last five years, the board has voluntarily and reluctantly granted permission for only two files to be returned to the Minister of Veterans Affairs for reconsideration. In the three years of Larlee’s tenure as chair, the board has not granted a single compassionate award allowed for in the legislation, another glaring shortfall in Larlee’s accounting of VRAB.

Hearing the story of VRAB member Harold Leduc, who was awarded $4,000 by the Canadian Human Rights Commission because of ill treatment by his colleagues, it makes perfect sense.… Read the rest

Just One More Reason for a Commission of Inquiry into Veterans’ Issues

The article below was first published in Ottawa’s Hill Times on January 23, 2012

For Canada’s injured military, veterans and their families, there are few government agencies so singularly reviled as the Veterans Review and Appeal Board. The federal quasi-judicial body which hears reviews and appeals from injured soldiers and veterans applying for disability benefits has stolidly played a leading role in cultivating such scorn.

For almost a century, Canada’s injured soldiers have been awarded benefits for disability and living assistance. From their inception, awards and benefits have not always been justly granted to those who have sacrificed in our nation’s name.  This is where the VRAB or the “Board” comes in. Serving members, veterans, RCMP and their survivors (collectively called “applicants”) seek recourse through VRAB when the Department of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) has failed these applicants in need.

The board has existed in various incarnations over the past century with its latest version morphing in 1995. In all of its incarnations, it has attracted much vitriol from the military, veteran and family community. In fact, Canada’s most prominent veterans’ organization, the Royal Canadian Legion, grew rapidly and came together largely as a result of leading the public outcry widely condemning VRAB’s predecessor in the 1920s.… Read the rest