Mythbusting – RCMP Death Benefits

Ottawa, ON – January 6, 2015

“Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) members are entitled to the same death benefits as Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel.”

Q: True or False?

A: False

At the beginning of any new year, we tend to reflect on the past and commit to doing things better in the future. When we reflect on 2014, one of the major events that affected many Canadians was the shooting deaths of three RCMP members in Moncton. As Canadians, we don’t expect to see that level of violence directed against those who stand on guard and protect us. In October, this was brought home again with the targeted killings of two military members on home soil.

Now that some time has passed since the events, we need to objectively reflect on our support to the family members who had to cope with the emotional loss and the financial effects of these tragic events. I have studied the benefits for both the RCMP and the CAF and it has become clear that there are some disparities that could be reconciled. This is not to say that both have to have the same benefits, but that there is room for improvement in some areas.

Some may question why we are comparing the benefits of a police force with those of the military? First of all, both the RCMP and the CAF are clients of Veterans Affairs Canada. From my perspective, the RCMP with its long tradition of para-military service and its current mandate as a federal force that can and does serve overseas clearly embodies the attributes of military service. As well, the lifestyle demands of the RCMP are similar to that of the military with multiple transfers, deployments for operations and long absences from the family.  So, how we compensate for the negative aspects of these effects should be similar. This is why I adopted the theme: One Veteran.

Let’s look at death benefits, for example. The comparison chart we have developed provides a cursory overview of what is available for both the RCMP and the CAF in the event of death. The figures are representative of what might be paid out in a particular circumstance, and should only be taken as an indicator of the order of magnitude of what might be available. Every individual situation will be different. What the chart shows is that there are significant differences in lump sum payments, long term financial security, and access to other benefits.

This week I will be meeting with the Commissioner of the RCMP to discuss how we can work together to do a comparative analysis of existing benefits. In fact, I have already proposed to the Minister of Public Safety, in June 2014, that the RCMP be included in the Children of Deceased Veterans Education Assistance Act so that the children of those RCMP members, whose death is related to service, will receive financial support for post-secondary education just as it is for CAF members. I ended that letter by stating that this inclusion “would provide a very tangible way to demonstrate the Government of Canada’s support to the RCMP and the children of those members who died as a result of service.”

So, as we reflect on last year and start a new year, let’s commit to making a difference to those who stand on guard for us and to their families. Providing educational assistance for the children of RCMP officers whose deaths are service-related would be a great way to start. It is the right thing to do.

Guy Parent

Veterans Ombudsman

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