Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

HONOURING VETERANS OF WAR

Posted by strattof on November 21, 2013

F A C T  S H E E T 

  • 750,000: Approximate number of veterans of all wars in Canada 
  • 39,000:  Number of Canadian veterans of the war in Afghanistan 
  • 8,026: Number of Canadian soldiers released from  the military because of injury or illness between 2006 and 2011 
  • 3,900: Number of Afghanistan veterans the Canadian forces estimate will be diagnosed with some form of occupational stress injury     

Earlier this month, on November 11th, Canadians honoured our veterans of war at Remembrance Day services. Surely the best way to honour ill and injured veterans would be for our government to offer them adequate compensation for their often horrific and life-changing injuries. But that is not happening in Canada.

THE NEW VETERANS CHARTER

In 2006, the Harper government replaced the Pension Act, used since the First World War, with the New Veterans Charter. Under the Charter, Canadian soldiers making an application for disability benefits are awarded a one-time, workers-compensation-style lump sum payout, rather than life-time pension.

Studies show the Charter is a financial disaster for many disabled soldiers. ●For those severely disabled, it can mean a 40% reduction from what they would have received under the Pension Act. ●It can also mean receiving 90% less than what other Canadian workers would receive for the same injuries.   

REACTIONS TO THE CHARTER

Veterans Ombudsman: Charter Failing Veterans

In his June 2013 report, Canada’s veterans ombudsman, Guy Parent, found that the New Veterans Charter is failing many veterans and the Canadian government needs to take “urgent action.” According to the report:

  • More than 400 of the most severely wounded and disabled veterans are at risk of spending their retirement years in poverty.
  • 53% of veterans assessed as “totally and permanently incapacitated” have not been awarded impairment benefits.
  •  Benefits meant to help veterans transition from a military to civilian career are inadequate.
  • Compensation for pain and suffering is lacking.

Afghanistan War Vets Take Charter To Court

  • In 2012, a group of wounded Afghanistan war veterans filed a class-action lawsuit in B.C. against the federal government over the lump-sum disability payment under the Charter, arguing that it is meagre in comparison with the lifetime disability pension and that it violates the Canadian Charter.  
  • Federal lawyers argued for a dismissal of the veterans’ class-action lawsuit, saying Ottawa has no moral obligation to care for veterans.
  • Last month, a B.C. Supreme Court ruling allowed the case to proceed.
  • The Harper government says it will appeal the ruling, a stalling tactic that could delay the case for years.

VETERANS FURTHER DISHONOURED 

Injured Soldiers Booted From Military  

  • To qualify for an indexed pension, a Canadian soldier must serve in the military for 10 years.
  • To remain in service, a soldier must be fit to be deployed at a moment’s notice.
  • In a bid to balance the budget, the Harper government is not allowing wounded soldiers who are unable to meet the deployment rule to remain in service long enough to reach pension eligibility.

Veterans Affairs Offices Shut Down

In another cost-saving move, the Harper government is closing 9 Veterans Affairs offices by February 2014. In the words of a veteran who depends on the services of a soon-to-be closed office: “It’s just going to kill us…,They couldn’t do it on the battlefield so they’re going to do it right here in Ottawa” (CTV Atlantic).

Dignified Funeral Applications Denied

Since 2006, a federal fund meant to ensure veterans have a dignified funeral has rejected 20,147 applications submitted by families of low-income soldiers for a funeral stipend. The rejections represent 66% of the requests received.

T A K E   A C T I O N

  • Tell Stephen Harper the Government of Canada has made a commitment to provide care to all veterans and you want his government to meet that commitment. Remind Mr. Harper of the words he spoke at last month’s Conservative Party convention: “Let’s never forget that only this party takes to heart the debt owed to our brave men and women in uniform.” pm@pm.gc.ca or 613-992-4211.
  • Send the same message to the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Julian Fantino: julian.fantino@parl.gc.ca or 613-996-4971.
  • Sign the petition calling on the Canadian government to provide life-long support for wounded veterans. Google “change.org Canadian veterans” or go to  www.change.org/petitions/government-of-canada-our-wounded-veterans-deserve-life-long-support 

P U T   A N   E N D   T O   W A R

Another way to honour ill and injured veterans would be to avoid creating new generations of wounded and dead soldiers.

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