Veterans Affairs Minister Stephen Blaney’s radio interview on CFRA this morning certainly left disabled veterans more concerned than reassured. He ascertains, says the founder of the Canadian Veterans Advocacy group, Michael L Blais CD, that “modern veterans are better served by the New Veterans Charter and the Lump Sum Award than veterans who served prior to the NVC’s enactment in 2006.”
It’s a spin the Canadian public must not fall for because Blaney’s words do not reflect the reality of what our veterans are facing.
After listening to the interview, Mike immediately put together the following report and explained on video as well as in an announcement on Facebook how short-sighted, insensitive and dead wrong Blaney is. Read and listen very carefully, folks, because the victims may be you or someone you love. BONNIE
MIKE: I would take this moment to address the issues that were discussed, the first being the grotesquely unfair Lump Sum Award and the minister’s inaccurate suggestion that the award is part of a comprehensive package.
The Veterans Affairs Canada pension is a non-income-based disability award for pain and suffering, not income replacement. There is no T-4 slip and it it is not, as the minister would allude, to be taken into consideration with any other income replacement programs, such as the income-taxed ELB or Manulife SISIP LTD long-term disability provisions.
Senario: Two veterans, 25 years of age, married, two children. Both sustain catastrophic injuries inclusive of severe trauma/ multiple amputations/PTSD. Both veterans live to the age of 85, sixty years. Both veterans are awarded the full 100 percent and a PIA supplementary award of 1,000 dollars. The modern veteran, a young woman, is awarded 280 000 dollars Lump Sum award and approx 720k lifetime via the PIA. Her husband, who outlives her, does not receive a survivor’s pension, even though he took care of a severely disabled patriot for sixty years, nor any support services such as the VIP program.
The traditional veteran receives a lifetime pension of approx 48 k and with the PIA added, receives almost 3.5 million dollars, tax-free, during the course of his life. When he dies, provisions will be made for his wife, who will receive a survivor’s benefit for the rest of her life and accessibility to VIP services to maintain her independence.
Surely, Minister Blaney cannot be serious when he claims that modern veterans are better served by a system that provides over $2 million less and excludes their spouses from survivor benefits and independence programs?
Note the Permanent Injury Award is very difficult to qualify for, that only a very small percentage of veterans will be entitled. Furthermore, even though the act is quite definitive on what constitutes who has a severe and permanent impairment, they have left the size of the award to the minister’s discretion and created three levels of compensation. One would think that the Act’s definition would supersede discretion, that there is only one standard of compensation, not subject to an arbitrary process with multiple levels.
Note also the size of the lump sum award. Many Canadians do not realize how disrespectful this amount is in the context of the $280,000 provision being much less than the benchmark $300-$350,000 settlement a Canadian would have been awarded on average by the courts in Canada should they sustain similar injuries through negligence within one of Canada’s safety-regulated workplaces. The environment Canada’s sons and daughters perform in is hardly safety-regulated. The risks they take on our behalf are profound!
The minister’s comments in reference to post-release support would suggest that veterans prior to the New Veterans Charter were not accorded full opportunities for rehabilitation for their war-related conditions. I have been a client of VAC since 1993. Never have I been denied rehabilitative or treatment services. The Manulife SISIP LTD program provided retraining, rehabilitation and and fulfilled a contractual obligation to non-employable disabled clients for compensation of 75% of their wages until the age of 65. The ELB enacted (Earning Loss Benefit) is merely a duplication of the already provided through Manulife’s LTD provisions and is subject to an offsetting policy that shifts the financial burdern to the government, saving millions, perhaps billions of dollars when also applied to veterans who have been awarded a Veterans Affair Canada pension prior to 2006. The Act specifically states the pension is for pain and suffering, not income replacement.
Over 6,000 veterans and their families have been impacted by unjust financial hardship and successive governments unwillingness to champion the spirit and legislative-binding mandate of the Act. During the past five years, the Harper government has spent tens and tens of thousands of dollars fighting to to prevent veterans uniting to challenge this unjust position in the federal courts. Veterans have prevailed, have united and the case will proceed in November.
Minister Blaney was right on one issue: this nation is facing a turning point in its relationship to its veterans. The direction the Harper government has taken, based on fiscal restraint, not parliamentary obligations to Canada’s sons and daughters or the needs and associated costs of our wounded warriors medical requirements, is certain to bring us closer to the abyss.
There will be more veterans’ suicides, more homeless veterans, more families ravaged by the consequences of war, more divorces, more veterans like Fabien Melanson or Pascal Lacoste, who will be starting a hunger strike in front of Minister Blaney’s Quebec riding office on Saturday, November 5th.
Our war-disabled veterans need our help. They need their government to accept its obligation to engage in legitimate, open dialogue; to recognize the primary issues; to be a willing participant, not dedicated to defending the indefensible (the NVC) or the boasting of an enhancement Bill that is discriminative to veterans who fought in World War II, Korea, a dozen bloody UN encounters, former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan prior to 2006.
Is it any wonder that veterans and Canadian patriots will rally on November 5th on Parliament Hill and at MPs offices across the nation? Do they really have any choice? Is it not their duty, the duty of all patriotic Canadians to stand on guard for those who stand on guard for thee?
Pro Patria Semper Fidelis.
Michael L Blais CD
Founder/President, Canadian Veterans Advocacy
LISTEN TO MIKE’S VIDEO AS HE INVITES ALL CANADIANS TO JOIN YOUR VETERANS ON A NATIONAL PROTEST RALLY NOVEMBER 5, 2011.
BE A PATRIOT. WALK THE WALK.