OTTAWA, Sept. 20 /CNW/ - The National Council of Veteran Associations
(NCVA) calls Veterans Affairs Canada's announcement yesterday that it
will increase its financial support for veterans a good first step in
addressing the gaps and inequities identified in the New Veterans
Charter, but adds there is still much to do.
VAC Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn announced a substantial financial
increase in programs to assist seriously-injured veterans and
lower-ranked members of the Forces, as well as additional improvements
to be revealed in the coming weeks. The improvements proposed yesterday
include a "catastrophic allowance" of $1,000 a month for life for
seriously-injured veterans unable to return to work; significant
expansion of access to the Permanent Impairment Allowance for
seriously-disabled veterans and an increase to the benefit for lost
earnings veterans receive while in rehabilitation to provide a minimum
annual income of $40,000.
As a major representative of many of the traditional veterans'
organizations, with members suffering from serious disabilities, NCVA
spearheaded the recommendation that the New Veterans Charter should be
augmented to consider the plight of the Regular Force member who is
medically disabled with a "catastrophic injury." Although it is
acknowledged that the combined effects of the Disability Award, the
Earnings Loss Benefit and the Permanent Impairment Allowance will be
potentially of assistance, NCVA strongly believes that further forms of
compensation are required in order to fully recognize the significant
incapacity suffered in these circumstances. As such, NCVA was pleased
to see that this was addressed in the initiatives announced yesterday.
"There is no doubt that the plight of the seriously-injured young
private together with other seriously-disabled veterans deserves special
attention insofar as the financial compensation available under the New
Veterans Charter. The proposed addition of a "catastrophic allowance"
and the enhancements to the Earnings Loss Benefit and Permanent
Impairment Allowance will improve the financial picture for these
seriously-disabled veterans," said NCVA Secretary General Brian Forbes.
"As is often the case, however, the devil is in the details, and we will
be monitoring the legislative and policy changes to be enacted by the
Government to ensure the targets and objectives in the Minister's
announcement are achieved," said Mr. Forbes.
The 58 member-group NCVA sits on the New Veterans Charter Advisory Group
together with other stakeholders, leading academics and governmental
officials. Over the last two and a half years, the Advisory Group has
carried out a study of the new Charter and completed a report last
summer which has been delivered to the VAC Minister. It concluded that,
although the New Charter has been reasonably effective in meeting the
needs of some Regular Force members medically discharged with specific
disabilities, there remain a number of substantial gaps and voids which
require further legislative and regulatory amendments.
A commitment was made by the Government, and particularly VAC, that the
Charter would be considered a living document and that such revisions
would be given appropriate consideration so as to fully satisfy the
objectives of the new legislation. This basic principle was fundamental
to NCVA's support for the new Charter, and it had recently written to
the VAC Minister indicating that it would call on the Government in
furtherance of its commitment to address the substantial recommendations
made by the Advisory Group through this recently released report.
Failure to do so would reflect, in NCVA's respectful submission, a
serious betrayal of this commitment.
"This current initiative is helpful, but requires a more complete
response to the recommendations of the New Veterans Charter Advisory
Group and the additional proposals made regarding the new Charter by the
Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs," Mr. Forbes said. "We will
continue to work with VAC and the Department of National Defence in
expediting the implementation of these remaining recommendations."
It remains NCVA's high priority as part and parcel of its involvement
with the New Veterans Charter Advisory Group to ensure that VAC also
fulfills the Government's commitment to traditional veterans and that
the new Program's development does not lead to any reduction in future
benefits and services provided to traditional veterans and their
SOURCE War Amps
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