OTTAWA, Oct. 3, 2013 /CNW/ - The National Council of Veteran
Associations, consisting of sixty member organizations and representing
a wide cross-section of the veterans' community, came out today in
support of the essential findings of the Veterans Ombudsman's Office,
which issued a comprehensive report this week in relation to the need
to reform the New Veterans Charter.
Brian Forbes, Chairman of NCVA, noted that the report, which calls for
urgent action, correctly recognizes the appropriate priorities for
immediate revision of the Charter in its focus on three key transition
- the financial instability and decreased standard of living caused by
reduced post military release income and insufficient financial support
after the age of 65 for totally and permanently incapacitated veterans.
- the limitations in vocational rehabilitation and educational funding
which can affect second career aspirations and employment options.
- inadequate support to address difficult family environment scenarios
as a consequence of military service.
"The Ombudsman's evidence-based actuarial study has demonstrated beyond
any reasonable doubt the specific shortcomings that exist in the
Charter today," Mr. Forbes said.
He pointed out that when the Charter was enacted in 2006, the Government
declared that this legislation was a "Living Charter" and made a formal
commitment to the veterans' community that, as gaps and inequities were
identified, immediate remedial action would be taken to address these
"The Government has failed to fulfill this commitment with regard to a
significant number of substantive issues, impacting on the compensation
benefits of disabled veterans in violation of the social covenant that
the Canadian people owe to our veterans and their families," he said.
NCVA has consistently demanded over the last number of years that
Veterans Affairs Canada implement an overall plan of action to fulfill
its commitment in relation to not only the New Veterans Charter, but
also to seriously disabled veterans and health care reform.
"In accordance with the fundamental conclusions of the Veterans
Ombudsman's report, it remains NCVA's position that, notwithstanding
the ostensible economic constraints facing the country, the seriously
disabled veteran should be given immediate priority in the
implementation of the first phase of a VAC plan of action for
legislative reform," Mr. Forbes said. "There is no higher obligation
on Veterans Affairs Canada and the veterans' community than the
responsibility to address the needs and requirements of seriously
disabled veterans and their families."
He added that, although NCVA fully endorses the general thrust of the
Ombudsman's report, it would have preferred that the Ombudsman's office
had adopted the more beneficial recommendations of the New Veterans
Charter Advisory Group and the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs
(2009-2010) in relation to strengthening the compensation and income
security provisions of the Charter.
It has been NCVA's longstanding contention that any VAC plan of action
should include the remedial measures contained in the Advisory Group
and Parliamentary Committee reports (see Appendix I) so as to optimally
address the deficiencies in the Charter as precisely identified by the
Veterans Ombudsman's report.
In NCVA's view, immediate implementation of a comprehensive course of action to legislative Charter reform
pursuant to these recommendations would represent an important step to
meeting the controversy surrounding the Lump Sum Disability Award
through the proposed enhancements of the complementary benefit and
income support programs in the current legislation.
"We have encouraged the new Minister, Mr. Fantino, and his predecessors,
to 'get out in front' of the significant criticism of the Charter with
such a plan of action, and not wait for the outcome of the current
class action lawsuit (Equitas), and the pending Parliamentary Standing
Committee review anticipated this fall," Mr. Forbes said.
"We do commend the Minister for his immediate commitment upon receipt of
the Ombudsman's report, to the initiation of a review of the New
Veterans Charter, with particular emphasis on 'the most seriously
injured, support for families, and the delivery of programs by VAC,'"
he added, "However, in our judgement, these proposed reforms have been
sufficiently studied and analyzed over the last number of years such
that the gaps and voids have been readily identified by the New
Veterans Charter Advisory Group, the Special Needs Advisory Group, the
Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, and now the Veterans
"In our considered opinion, it is long overdue for VAC to become
proactive, and implement remedial legislation to address these well
established concerns and live up to its obligation under the social
covenant to Canada's veterans and their dependants. For a Government
that professes to support our military, the lack of substantive action
to reform the New Veterans Charter is truly unacceptable, and
represents a betrayal of the Government's commitment to the veterans'
community," he said.
THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE NEW VETERANS CHARTER ADVISORY GROUP, THE
PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE REPORT AND THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF VETERAN
ASSOCIATIONS RE THE INCOME SECURITY AND COMPENSATION PROVISIONS OF THE
NEW VETERANS CHARTER.
the Earnings Loss Benefit should be increased to 100% of pre-release
income and in relation to permanently incapacitated veterans, be paid
for life (not terminated at 65 as is currently the case). In
addition, the projected career earnings of a Canadian Armed Forces
member should be employed as the standard for the payment of the
Earnings Loss Benefit. In this context, VAC should adopt the approach
utilized by the Canadian Courts in assessing the concept of "future
loss of income" which specifically addresses the projected lifetime
earnings loss in a personal injury claim.
the SISIP (Service Income Security Insurance Plan) Long Term Disability
Program should be eliminated with respect to service related
disabilities to eradicate the insurance culture constraints presently
contained in the New Veterans Charter. It is to be noted that, at the time of the enactment of the New
Veterans Charter, VAC committed that, as a fundamental pre-condition to
the passage of the legislation that the SISIP program would be
eliminated as soon as possible so as to remove the restrictions that
were inherent to the overall income replacement program.
the restrictions and complexities of the Permanent Impairment Allowance
guidelines should be addressed so as to allow greater numbers of
disabled veterans to qualify for appropriate levels of entitlement for
this important allowance.
the Lump Sum Disability Award should be increased commensurate with the
general damages paid by the Canadian Courts. At this point in time,
the differential would be approximately $50,000.00, and it remains the
view of NCVA that there is no justification for a lower amount being
paid to a disabled veteran who is severely injured in the service of
the Exceptional Incapacity Allowance concept founded under the Pension
Act should be incorporated into the New Veterans Charter. This
allowance has traditionally addressed the impact of the disabilities
suffered by 100% veteran pensioners with reference to their difficulty
to cope with their overall incapacity. The introduction of EIA to the New Veterans Charter would augment the
limitations of the Permanent Impairment Allowance, particularly in the
circumstance where a disabled veteran confronts the ravages of age.
educational benefits should be expanded to bolster the rehabilitation
provisions of the Charter so as to address the vocational and
occupational constraints faced by many returning veterans with service
the discrimination that currently exists with reference to specific
classes of reservists, particularly those that are seriously disabled,
should be eliminated in the New Veterans Charter and related insurance
coverage with particular regard to income replacement programs and
relevant SISIP provisions.
In order to recognize the care giving requirements that many disabled
veterans confront to cope with their incapacities, the Attendance
Allowance provisions of the Pension Act should be added to the New
Veterans Charter in recognition of the financial costs faced by many
families in this context.
the Charter should acknowledge that veterans with dependants should
receive a higher level of compensation either through the augmentation
of the Lump Sum Disability Award or an increase in the Earnings Loss
Benefit for such veterans and their families.
[Underlining reflects the more beneficial proposals supported by the New
Veterans Charter Advisory Group, the Standing Committee on Veterans
Affairs and the National Council of Veteran Associations as distinct
from the recommendations set out in the new Veterans Ombudsman's
SOURCE: National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada
For further information:
The Recommendations of the New Veterans Charter Advisory Group, the Parliamentary Committee Report and the National Council of Veteran Associations follow in Appendix I. For more information, please contact Communications at 1-877-60MEDIA, visit ncva-cnaac.ca or e-mail email@example.com.