It’s time for Veterans’ voices to be heard

Ottawa, ON – October 17, 2014

Last week I was honoured to be a keynote speaker at the Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans (ANAVETS) in Canada’s 52nd Biennial Dominion Convention in Penticton, BC. During my visit to the Okanagan Valley, I also hosted a Town Hall in Kelowna on October 6th and a second in Penticton on October 7th. These meetings gave me the opportunity to hear the viewpoints of hundreds of Veterans on a variety of issues.  They also allowed me to gauge individual Veterans’ reactions to the response of the Government of Canada to the 14 recommendations made by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs (ACVA) in its unanimous June 2014 Report, The New Veterans Charter: Moving Forward.

My conversations with Veterans confirmed that they, like other Veterans across the country, had high expectations as they awaited the Government’s response to the ACVA Report. They hoped that after years of study, it would provide details on what improvements to the New Veterans Charter could be expected in coming months.  Although there was overall agreement that the response represented forward movement, many echoed my concern with the Government’s phased approach.

I flagged this concern in my initial assessment of the Government’s response to the ACVA Report. While all or part of 10 of the Committee’s recommendations are planned to be quickly achieved in phase one within existing authorities and budgets of Veterans Affairs Canada and the Department of National Defence, the implementation of the four recommendations that represent substantive change is being delayed until “additional inter-departmental work, budgetary analysis, and coordination with a wide range of federal departments, as well as with the Veterans Ombudsman and Veterans’ groups” can be done.

In my October 2nd news release, I both encouraged the Minister of Veterans Affairs to actively engage the President of the Treasury Board and the Minister of Finance and urged the members of the Veterans’ community across the country to engage their local Members of Parliament and key Cabinet Ministers on the implementation of the ACVA Report. It is essential that federal decision makers understand the importance and urgency of targeting budgetary funds to address the deficiencies in the New Veterans Charter. It is also essential that these funds be committed in the 2015 Budget. I am ready to work with the Minister and Veterans Affairs Canada do whatever is necessary to achieve this goal. To me, it is a matter of fairness to our Veterans and their families.

Now is the time for Veterans’ voices to be heard so that the Government does not waiver on its intent.  Veterans and their families represent over a million people across Canada. Don’t underestimate the power of your collective voices. You can make a difference. Speak up!

Guy

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Comments

DJ said:

I applied for the ELB in 2007. I did not process the papers until 2011 due to my condition. My Question is: I qualify for the ELB now, but should I have received retro pay from the first application date?

November 28, 2014 7:06 AM

Office of the Veterans Ombudsman

The effective date of the ELB is the date of decision and not application. That being said, it appears from your comments that it took some time to process. We would be interested in hearing more about it. You can contact us at 1-877-330-4343.

December 2, 2014 11:23 AM

Jetjockey said:

The real impact of getting CPP disability for veterans. Veteran beware. Who really gains when a veteran is granted CPP disability? A Military Veteran is granted CPP disability losing $38 276.40 in benefits, while the Canadian Forces Service Income Security Insurance Plan “SISIP” and Veteran Affair “VA” Earning Loss Benefits “ELB”, will pocket $111 126.60 in unpaid premium, and the CPP will save the $38 276.40. The most vulnerable military veterans and the most disable are the biggest losers. Following being granted CPP disability the military pension is amputated by the amount XX amount depending on pay at release, in my case $637.94 per month, which will continue until death. (don’t agree with but this is clearly indicated on the pension check in bold letters) If I would not have been granted CPP disability, I could have gotten the military bridge benefit portion in the amount of $637.94 between the age of 60 and 65. Therefore 5 years of $637.94 per month which amounts to $38 276.40 in loss benefits. Further more, The SISIP Long Term Disability benefits for the Regular Force equal 75% of salary on release, less other relevant sources of income*. Therefore SISIP is slashing 569.88 from my 75% pension top up in order to deduct any gain made from the CPP disability, which is in the amount of 1207.82. ($1207.82 - $637.84= $569.88) The Veterans ELB will do the same. Therefore the SISIP and Veterans ELB will save $111 126.60 on my back, over the next 16 years and 3 months. In all, $149 403 will be taken away from this veteran over the next 16 years. This is another example of how the Veterans are taken for a ride. For your consideration.

November 26, 2014 12:10 PM

Anne Z said:

Why does the Canadian government continue to force its disable veterans to jump through hoops to receive tax credits and benefits they need from its own agencies. Former members go through a process to receive their disability pension with the aid of Bureau of Pensions Advocate. This process can take a considerable amount of time, anxiety, and frustration. The Royal Canadian Legion may also assist which is redundant. But then the medically release veteran must then go through that whole process again with both Canada Pension Plan and Revenue Canada. When dealing with these agencies there is no assistance unless the individual hires outside, very expensive help in the form of a lawyer or a business that assists people in their efforts to qualify for benefits they paid into. Not very helpful to a Veteran suffer with mental health issues like PTSD.

November 15, 2014 12:38 PM

Murray said:

Hi! Guys; I sense from the tone of this blog Guy and in direct response to your comment "Now is the time for Veterans’ voices to be heard so that the Government does not waiver on its intent " You are 100% correct in your thinking. My sense as to your meaning is we will not get anything if Veterans do not do their part we may not get the changes ... I am a 112% disabled and in two years and will no longer get earnings loss. Do they not have any compassion towards seriously injured Veterans. Being disabled and being a Veteran at 112% means I will not be able to feed my wife and myself. The only difference when I turn 65 is my age. I will still have living expenses ...Their own MPs have recommended that earning loss continue....it seems that the Gov. of the day lines their own expense on the back of our seriously disabled. Mr. Harper any vet would be happy happy to have you live with them when you lose your job.

November 10, 2014 4:31 PM

cheryl said:

Out of 24 months of deducting DVA Pension from the Earnings Loss Benefit, we received only 4 months and it is considered a one time payment as part of the 2014 Budget Implementation Act. Are they serious? A private insurance company does better? They ought not to have off-setted in the first place as proven in court. Why do the veterans under the DVA program get disadvantaged than those under SISIP?

November 5, 2014 4:30 PM

Murray said:

A few months ago the Director General approved and signed off on a four month and a few weeks of retro active Earnings Loss for those not covered in the court case. Can you tell me when we might get that...is the Minister waiting until the election or is there another reason not known....

October 28, 2014 4:40 PM

Office of the Veterans Ombudsman

Hi Murray, Veterans Affairs Canada has already begun paying the retroactive Earnings Loss Benefit, and some have already received payment. Those eligible should expect to receive their payment any time now.

November 7, 2014 12:29 PM

Jan said:

If we need to speak up, perhaps you could provide info on ways to do just that i.e. Member of Parliament? media? How about some links

October 27, 2014 12:41 AM

Office of the Veterans Ombudsman

There are numerous ways Veterans can choose to speak up and be heard. Individuals are free to choose whatever method suits them. You can engage with your local MP or Senator to express your concerns. You could also reach out to members of the committees looking at National Defence and Veterans issues. Thank you in advance for supporting improvements for Veterans.

November 7, 2014 11:57 AM