Minister O'Toole strengthens benefits for reservists

Increased benefits for part-time Reserve Force Veterans ensure fair treatment for all Veterans

HALIFAX, March 13, 2015 /CNW/ - The Honourable Erin O'Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs, and the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today  announced part-time Reserve Force Veterans will have the support they deserve, honouring a pledge made by the Government of Canada. The ministers were joined by Member of Parliament Scott Armstrong and the Veterans Ombudsman, Guy Parent.

Today's announcement focused on the Veterans Affairs Canada's (VAC) Earnings Loss (EL) Benefit, which provides income support for Veterans with service-related injuries while they are participating in VAC's Rehabilitation Program or who are unable to be suitably employed.

Currently, part-time Reserve Force Veterans in receipt of the Earnings Loss Benefit are eligible for an annual EL Benefit of $24,300. Through changes aimed at ensuring respect for reservists, beginning in April 2015, all Veterans of the Reserve Force eligible for the EL Benefit will be ensured a minimum annual income of $42,426, which is the current EL Benefit of a basic corporal in the Regular Force. This is a big step forward for those who need it the most, and responds to concerns raised by the Veterans Ombudsman and the House of Commons' Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs regarding fair treatment of Canada's reservists.

Survivors of part-time Reserve Force Veterans who lose their lives as a result of service will also benefit from this change.

Quick Fact

  • The EL Benefit is a taxable monthly benefit that ensures Veterans' total income will be at least 75% of their pre-release military salary while they are participating in rehabilitation or unable to be suitably employed.

Quotes

"Today, we are recognizing the critical role played by the men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves. Reservists served with distinction in Afghanistan and when they deploy, they share the same risks in duty that Regular Force members do. Canadians respect the commitment to juggle civilian employment and military service and today, I am ensuring reservists injured in the service to Canada are treated fairly. Our Government will extend the Earnings Loss Benefit to our Reserve Force Veterans to help the Veterans and their families recover from their injury and make a successful transition to civilian life. I want to thank the Ombudsman and other stakeholders for their work advancing this issue and supporting our CAF Reserves."
The Honourable Erin O'Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs

"The sacrifices of our Veterans, who have exemplified the highest ideals of duty, courage and loyalty, must never fade. Canada must honour Veterans as they have honoured this country. Today's announcement provides Canadian Armed Forces reservists and their families the confidence that our Government will provide the compassion, respect, and support they need and deserve."
The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

"I am pleased that another gap in the New Veterans Charter is about to be closed. Reservists are an important component of our national security and play a critical role in sustaining the Canadian Armed Forces. Since becoming Veterans Ombudsman, I have been advocating for the One Veteran theme so that all Veterans are treated fairly for service-related injuries/illness and death, regardless of when and where they served. Today, we are moving one step closer to that reality and I commend the Minister of Veterans Affairs for this change."
Guy Parent, Canada's Veterans Ombudsman

Veterans Affairs Canada is committed to ensuring Veterans are treated with the care, compassion and respect they deserve. Veterans and their families are at the center of everything we do. #Veterancentric

Associated Links

Backgrounder

Respect for reservists – Enhancing benefits for Reserve Force Veterans

The New Veterans Charter (NVC) was designed to meet the needs of today's Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), including members of the Regular and Reserve Forces. It was created to help Veterans and their families.

Through the NVC, Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) has programs in place to assist eligible reservists who are injured or become ill resulting primarily from their service in the CAF and, in some cases, to assist them in finding civilian employment. Today's announcement focused on VAC's Earnings Loss (EL) Benefit, which provides income support for Veterans with service-related injuries while they are participating in VAC's Rehabilitation Program or who are unable to be suitably employed.

Our Government pledged to address the benefits available to part-time Reserve Force Veterans. This was also the recommendation of the Veterans Ombudsman and the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. Currently, part-time Reserve Force Veterans in receipt of the Earnings Loss (EL) Benefit are eligible for monthly benefits totaling $24,300 annually.

Beginning in April 2015, all Veterans of the Reserve Force who are eligible for the Earnings Loss Benefit would receive a minimum income of $42,426. This is the same minimum amount a Regular Force Veteran would receive through EL and is set at 75% of a basic corporal's salary.

It is estimated that by 2020, approximately 290 part-time Reserve Force Veterans could receive this increased income each year. Survivors of part-time Reserve Force Veterans who died as a result of service would also benefit from this change, as well as eligible Veterans who are also receiving benefits through the Service Income Security Insurance Plan provided by the Department of National Defence.

Example of a Veteran who could benefit from this change

Corporal M was a part-time (Class A) reservist who was injured in a training exercise. He suffered severe, disabling injuries as a result of the accident. He spent several months in hospital undergoing extensive rehabilitation. Corporal M applied to Veterans Affairs Canada for a disability award and was assessed with a 70% disability.

Due to his disabling injuries, Corporal M no longer meets the Canadian Armed Forces universality of service criteria. He was medically released in 2014 and applied to VAC for Rehabilitation and Earnings Loss (EL) benefits. Corporal M was granted eligibility for the VAC Rehabilitation Program and EL in June 2014. He is currently eligible for $2,025 in EL per month ($24,300 per year) before offsets. Corporal M will maintain eligibility for EL until he completes the Rehabilitation Program, or, if it is determined that he will never return to suitable employment due to his injuries, he will receive his ELB until age 65.

With the proposed change, Corporal M will see his EL increase to match the EL rate for Regular Force Veterans. His EL will increase from $2,025/month to $3,535/month (or from $24,300/year to $42,426/year).

A continuum of care

While enhancing benefits for part-time reservists is the focus of today's announcement, it must be viewed as part of a spectrum of services and supports available to Veterans. Reserve Force Veterans who are injured as a result of military service—regardless of rank or class—have access to other benefits from VAC such as treatment benefits, the Veterans Independence Program (VIP), Career Transition Services, financial benefits and disability benefits.

SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada

For further information: Martin Magnan, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs, 613-996-4649; Media Relations, Veterans Affairs Canada, 613-992-7468

RELATED LINKS
www.veterans.gc.ca

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