Will Budget 2017 Help Veterans?

Ottawa, ON - February 20, 2017

This text was authored by Guy Parent, Veterans Ombudsman, and originally published in The Hill Times on Monday, February 20, 2017.

A year ago in The Hill Times, I challenged the status quo to “go beyond today’s ideas and shape tomorrow by clearly defining Veterans’ outcomes – the end results that we want to achieve – and figure out the steps needed to attain optimal results for Veterans and their families.”  

A year later, with Budget 2017 on the horizon, have we made progress and begun to clearly define the results that we want to achieve for Veterans and their families?   

I believe that Budget 2016 improvements are making a positive difference in the lives of Veterans and their families. But, I also believe that there is still much to do.

To add perspective to this viewpoint, I recently conducted a review of the Government’s response to the recommendations made by my Office since its inception.

Out of the 57 recommendations that were developed in collaboration with Veterans’ advocates and organizations, 37 have been fully or partially implemented and 20 are waiting to be addressed. Six of the items in the Minister of Veterans Affairs’ Mandate Letter are based on my recommendations, and three of these were addressed in Budget 2016 – increasing the Earnings Loss Benefit to 90 percent and the Disability Award to $360,000, as well as changes to the Last Post Fund.

There are still outstanding recommendations that would make a significant impact on the lives of Veterans and their families should they be implemented:

  • Retroactive reimbursement of treatment benefits for Veterans, covered under the New Veterans Charter, while they are waiting for a decision from Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC);
  • Adequate compensation for primary caregivers of seriously disabled Veterans;
  • The overlap between SISIP and VAC income support and rehabilitation programs creates unnecessary confusion and needs to be addressed; and
  • The implementation of a Veterans ID card. (I hear about this from Veterans at my outreach events and town halls. After five years, VAC is only now exploring options.)

I would also like to see action on:

  • Closing the seam for our serving members as they transition from military to civilian life;
  • Reducing the complexity of VAC programs and services;
  • Improving VAC’s service delivery approach; and
  • Increasing the financial well-being of Veterans so that they have enough money to meet their needs if they can’t work because of their service, and if they can work, to adequately compensate for their pain and suffering. 

So, when it comes to Budget 2017, I hope it will address several of the outstanding recommendations that came from the collective work effort of the Veterans’ community over the past several years.

My fellow Veterans and I know that there will be many competing priorities for funds in the upcoming Budget. Veterans have earned Canadians’ respect and gratitude for their service – including putting their lives on the line for Canada – and deserve the best care and support that we can give. We will be watching to see if Budget 2017 ensures better results for Veterans and their families.

Guy Parent
Veterans Ombudsman

Comments

Lee said:

Lets chat about the new disability pension announcement. It's my understanding from the announcement that the only real thing that has changed is the way the money that you are awarded is given to you. For instance, before the announcement if you are awarded 100,000.00 you have the option of a lump sum payment or a yearly payment, or a combination of both. When the new system takes affect you can now choose to take that same amount and have it paid to you monthly. I may be wrong but this is the way it sounded to me. If this is the case, it really is only smoke and mirrors, there is no real change. First you have to be awarded money and then you chose the way it is paid out to you. Now lets look at the average yearly salary for Canadians, which is just over 51,000. The average award for disability is 43,000. The low income or poverty level of a single Canadian is 22,133, or for a family of three 38,335. Taking the above into consideration, if you are awarded the average 43,000, it equates to two years pay at below poverty level. I want to know, how is this 43,000 invested in such a manner as to accrue enough interest to give you a reasonable pension for life. I honestly don't think it can be done, unless the 3.6 billion is invested in the financial market to increase capital gains.

December 29, 2017 10:11 AM

Office of the Veterans Ombudsman replied:

Hi Carmen,

Unfortunately, we don’t know more than you. We only know what VAC has shared on their website. We were able to find this http://www.veterans.gc.ca/GCWeb/pdf/Factsheets/Intro.pdf

We’ll be taking a closer look at outcomes for Veterans once all of the details are available. You can be sure that we’ll be monitoring. 

January 3, 2018 12:42 PM

Larry said:

Is there anything on ID cards. I spent 35 Years in the Army and because my file didn't get completed till the end of Feb 2016 I didn't get anything that show I am a vet. Thanks

September 15, 2017 6:35 PM

Office of the Veterans Ombudsman replied:

Hello Larry, thank you for your question. The Veteran ID Card is necessary. I recommended a Veteran ID card in 2012. You can find the report here: http://www.ombudsman-veterans.gc.ca/eng/reports/reports-reviews/identity-identite-11-2012. We’ll be sure to announce any further developments on the ID Card.

September 18, 2017 11:26 AM

TED said:

I am Totally and Permanently Impaired, and my wife has been my care giver for a number of years now. I have been awarded the CIA and Supplement, level 2. My condition is developing many secondary conditions such as brain issues from the lack of sleep due to severe pain that is constant. And others. It is a serious reality that I may die due to these secondary issues, but my original issue is a lumbar injury and severe secondary arthritis...both have been recognized and have relieved a pension award...though at a low level of 40%. If I do pass, it is highly likely that my wife will receive nothing from my financial support, because my recognized conditions are NOT life threatening, even though I am TPI!She will be left with no support, even though she has supported me for years. This is incredibley unfair to her. She cannot work due to my condition. I beleive that anyone that is TPI or worse, their wife should recieve continuing support after my death. If I am TPI, of course my wife is my full time support, and thus SHOULD receive continuing financial support after my death. NOW, she will get nothing as I have been told by my case worker. Please fight for our care givers and what they should receive due to their unwavering support, to benefit me...AND VAC! WITHOUT THEM, VAC WOULD BE PAYING MUCH HIGHER COSTS. Yet, when I pass, they would give them NO support. Desperately, TED

September 11, 2017 3:01 PM

Office of the Veterans Ombudsman replied:

Hello Ted, sorry to hear your challenges. The impact of a Veteran’s illness or injury is felt by the whole family and they should be supported. For confidentiality reasons, please contact my service center at 1-877-330-4343. Someone from my team will do their best to help you.

September 15, 2017 9:50 AM

Wayne said:

We have been after VAC and Ottawa to generate a Veteran's ID card indicating we are CF Veterans. Now they are taking a look at option? What options..?????

June 29, 2017 7:20 PM

Anonymous said:

This Lump sum Option, still for the Birds.. Per say I today get a 10% award, so $36K.. and I'm 50 year's old, so I go Hmm, over 5 years.. so they take the $36K, divide it by 60 and I get my monthly pension $600 a month.. Now, if I get a LSA, 10% so again $60K, and go okay take it as a lifetime pension.. so they go okay Oh wait, how many months are we gonna take this over, Hmm, he's 50 year's old, it's a lifetime pension, so how on earth can they figure out a lump sum lifetime pension award amount, when they can't or don't know how long your gonna live for.?????????? make payment based of me hitting 70, 75, well I might live longer, I could live shorter.. Basing it off something else like LSA won't work.. thats why the Pension Act worked, cause it was the same across the board... Also note, since I forgot in other Post, Tell the Minister of Veterans Affairs, with the Education Benefit $40K / $80K to STOP CREATING MORE TIERS, your only entitled to this cause your less then 12 year's, Oh you get more cause More then 12 year's, this has created YET another tier.. Remember, 1 Veteran 1 Standard, Say NO to more Tier Stuff One Veteran One standard One rate for ALL.

March 23, 2017 7:07 AM

BinRat said:

So this new Education part as we are discussing it elsewhere totally screwed up, cause someone who joins, says 20 year old, goes Infantry, goes to Afghanistan, gets injured, medically released 3B after say 5 year's of service, Now only gets the $40K to get re-educated vice the $80K cause he didn't do 12 year's. Cause now he is 25 Year's old, medically screwed up, Who could benefit per say from a 3-4 year retraining, but gets screwed cause, well ya get $40K or $10K a year for University studies, and he's only 25 year's old. Why not everyone, if you completed your BE 1st 3 years of service, Medically released you should get the FULL $80K Amount, and not restrict it to Well you need 12 years service with a CD Medal to get the full $80K

March 23, 2017 6:55 AM

Patrick Gem said:

They are completely underwater with claims to process ! Takes too much time to train new staff and also still no mention on real long term disability financial security! It is time too bring back the Pension Act and streamline together with NVC and not penalize the members who had no choice but the lump sum which is not financial security for the injured Veteran...Homeless Veterans is unacceptable!!!

March 6, 2017 9:17 PM

Anonymous said:

Does the increase to the lump sum benefit also increase the monthly pension amount? This number when originally created was based on the pension amount. They have been indexed together since 2006, It would be ludicrous for the numbers to be disconnected...one raised and then grow in conjunction again. How is a veteran at a 100% pension amount to survive at a rate that is not being adjusted like the lump sum when the cost of living and disability settlements has outpaced the COLA formula used by the Government of Canada. I feel on 1 April 2017 I will become approx 20% poorer than my NVC comrades who receive lump sums. $48000 is not enough to even support a family anymore when you are under 40 and living in a larger centre close to the medical care that you require.

March 6, 2017 8:26 PM

Mark Alford said:

I'd like to know what the VA Minister is planning to do about the back log of claims. I'm not hearing anything to inspire confidence that he is planning on stream lining the wait times for the process of claims. Right now they are processing claims from April or 2016 and it's almost March 2017. This is TOTALLY unacceptable.

February 24, 2017 3:41 PM

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