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A Voice for today’s Veterans ~ Une voix pour les vétérans d'au ourd'!ui "# $iscayne Crescent Otta%a Ontario &'( #)* Tel +,"-.'"-,#/,
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY NVOC Notes for Presentation to the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY NVOC Notes for Presentation to the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs
It is a !eas"re for the NATO Veterans Organi#ation of Canada to $e here toda% to address the Standing Committee on Veterans
Affairs and &e "rge a!! mem$ers of this 'ommittee to &or( together to see im ro)ements made to the &e!!*$eing and &e!fare of Canada+s Veterans, -e ha)e ser)ed this 'o"ntr% in times of 'onf!i't and in times of ea'e and ha)e done the Nations $idding, -e a!! ro"d!% ser)ed, -e as( no&. in ret"rn for the sa'rifi'es &e made. in the name of a!! Canadians. that this Committee hears o"r 'on'erns and inf!"en'es the 'hanges &e /0ST see a't"a!!% o''"r 1or far too !ong there ha)e $een signifi'ant and em$arrassing dis'onne'ts in the o!i'ies emanating from the go)ernment and the harsh rea!ities that are fa'ed $% o"r Canadian Armed 1or'es ersonne! and o"r former ser)i'e ersonne! 2 the Veterans, O"r )eterans re resent a !ega'% of ser)i'e to Canada, Let "s no& see a !ega'% of res e't and e3"a!it% on $eha!f of a gratef"! nation to&ards o"r )eterans, , O"r 'o!!eag"es of the Ro%a! Canadian Legion 4RCL5 &i!! address iss"es that are a!so on o"r List 2 e)er% one6 NATO Vets I ha)e three areas that &hi'h &e &ere in)ited to s e'ifi'a!!% as(ed to address in o"r in)itation to a ear here toda% Care and S" ort to the most serio"s in7"red )eterans S" ort to Veteran+s 1ami!ies Im ro)ement to the &a% VAC de!i)ers rograms "nder the Veterans Charter 'on'erning Ser)i'es and 8enefits ,If an% mem$er &o"!d !i(e to dis'"ss these &ith me or Per'% Pri'e off*!ine. &e &o"!d $e !eased to do so,/r Pri'e is the NATO Vets A9Dire'tor of Ad)o'a'% * an e: ; %ear Ad7"di'ator on VRA8 and <= %ears a RCL Veterans Co"nse!or NATO Veterans 'omments toda% are dire'ted to the short'omings in the Ne& Veterans Charter &hi'h are (no&n and e: erien'ed $%
o"r /odern Da% Veterans, -e 'annot !et these iss"es 'ontin"e as the &e!!*$eing and &e!fare of o"r Veterans is at ris(, Ea'h mem$er of this 'ommittee has a res onsi$i!it% to see that 'hanges are made to the Ne& Veterans Charter and the NVOC stands read% to assist in ro)iding ad)i'e and re'ommendations to %o". $"t )eterans &i!! a!so ho!d %o" a''o"nta$!e for ina'tion and artisan o!iti's, The da%s are !ong o)er of the Veteran s"ffering in si!en'e a!ong the !ines of >a good so!dier ne)er 'om !ains and 7"st fo!!o&s orders?. &e of a!! eo !e ha)e earned the right to $e )o'a! a$o"t the hardshi s &e fa'e at the hand of neg!igent o!i'ies and a !a'( of !eadershi in addressing (no&n short'omings, I am 'ertain that %o" &i!! a!! agree that it is im erati)e as an e!e'ted offi'ia! it is im ortant to &or( '!ose!% &ith 'omm"nities and !o'a! interests, These are the eo !e &ho e!e'ted %o" and &ho %o" re resent,
A. Care and S"
ort to the most serio"s in7"red )eterans,
DND and VAC m"st ens"re that a!! serio"s!% in7"red )eterans ma(e a !i'ation for ension '!aims and a!!o&an'es $efore $eing dis'harged from the Ser)i'e in'!"ding the RC/P, Serio"s!% in7"red Veterans m"st a!so in'!"de those indi)id"a!s &ith se)ere PTSD,
The se)ere!% in7"red )eterans " on dis'harge and d"ring their transition to 'i)i!ian !ife are at a )er% high ris( to f"rther in7"r% and death, -e high!% re'ommend that VAC monitor their reha$i!itation. menta! hea!th ser)i'es. hea!th 'are and s" ort for their fami!ies, VAC m"st maintain reg"!ar ersona! 'onta't &ith )eterans and their de endents, It is re'ommended that VAC ha)e a team of trained ersonne! to dea! &ith iss"es for the serio"s!% disa$!ed in'!"ding PTSD, This team &i!! sa)e the !i)es of o"r )eterans. &ho are high ris( as &itnessed in re'ent months &ith n"mero"s re'orded s"i'ides,
Veterans Affairs m"st gi)e riorit% to a!! serio"s!% in7"red )eterans and in'!"ding PTSD. in a!! ension $enefits and a!!o&an'es,
ort to Veteran+s 1ami!ies
VAC m"st (ee a high !e)e! of 'omm"ni'ation &ith )eterans and de endents to ens"re the &e!!$eing of a!! is 'arried o"t, Often )eterans e: erien'e diffi'"!ties &ith dr"gs. a!'oho!. s%'ho!ogi'a! ro$!ems and marita! diffi'"!ties. &ith no ad)i'e, In )ie& of this. it is re'ommended that VAC ro)ide the a ro riate 'o"nse!!ing and !ines of 'omm"ni'ation &ith ersona! )isits to identif% 'riti'a! ro$!em areas &ith referra!s to s" ort gro" s,
Veterans Affairs m"st gi)e riorit% for Veterans to attend Comm"nit% Co!!eges and 0ni)ersities 'o" !ed &ith riorit% 7o$ !a'ement and ed"'ationa! grants for deser)ing a !i'ants,
Often. VAC fo'"ses on the a't"a! )eteran iss"es and not the e:tended fami!%,
C. Im ro)ements to the &a% VAC de!i)ers rograms "nder the Veterans Charter
'on'erning Ser)i'es and 8enefits -e. the NATO VETERANS. fee! that it is im erati)e that VAC ro)ide a higher standard of rogram and ser)i'es to e)er% )eteran and de endent, -e ha)e dee 'on'erns &ith the re'ent VAC '!os"res of distri't offi'es a'ross Canada and &ith the red"'tion of staff in the head offi'e and in the Regiona! and Distri't offi'es, This &i!! affe't the de!i)er% of ser)i'es and &i!! o)er!oad the remaining staff and &i!! res"!t in red"'ed rod"'ti)it%, The Veterans Re)ie& and A ea! 8oard+s ro osa! to ond"'t
hearings $% Video and Te!e'onferen'ing is de ri)ing the Veteran of their rights to a ear $efore a ersona! hearing for assessment and entit!ement $oard, The t% e of hearing sho"!d $e at the dis'retion of the )eteran, In re'ent %ears. the )eterans ha)e indi'ated their "nha iness &ith Veterans Re)ie& and A ea! 8oard and often do not &ant to a ear at hearings as the% fee! that the mem$ers of the 8oard are against them, To 'reate a $etter ra ort. &e re'ommend that the Chair of the VRA8 or designate attend the ann"a! Se'ond Career Assistant Net&or( 4SCAN5. &hi'h is 'ond"'ted a'ross Canada at Canadian 1or'es 8ases, This &o"!d fa'i!itate a $etter "nderstanding $et&een the Veterans and the VRA8 mem$ers, The NATO Veterans Organi#ation of Canada firm!% $e!ie)es that that Veteran Affairs Canada has an e:'e!!ent ser)i'es and $enefits on a er in the &or!d, -hat is most im ortant to the Veteran and their de endents is ho& these ser)i'es and $enefits are de!i)ered to them, The )eterans do not (no& &hat the% are entit!ed to, It is the res onsi$i!it% and o$!igation of Veterans Affairs Canada. to de!i)er these $enefits in a first '!ass manner and one that )eterans 'an "nderstand,
Con'!"sion Ne& Veterans Charter &as introd"'ed in <@@A* $efore NATO Vets &as formed * fo!!o&ing a fo"r %ear st"d% $% the De artment of Nationa! Defen'e and Veterans Affairs Ad)isor% Committee, Sin'e its in'e tion the Charter has $een st"died $% man% e: ert ane!s in'!"ding the B"eens 0ni)ersit% st"d% 4The C!a:ton Pa ers5. this Par!iamentar% Standing Committee. and more re'ent!%. the Veterans Affairs Om$"dsman, O)er <@@ re'ommendations ha)e $een made for im ro)ements to the Charter $"t to date )er% !itt!e of s"$stan'e has $een done, The most o$)io"s dis're an'% in the Charter is ro)ision of ro er
ort for those )eterans &ith se)ere disa$i!ities.
arti'"!ar!% those in the !o&er ran(s, Changes need to $e made to the NVC to ens"re that )eterans &ith se)ere disa$i!ities re'ei)e 'om ensation e3"i)a!ent to that "nder the Pension A't, The most o$)io"s dis're an'ies 'ome from rograms or $enefits that &ere e!iminated "nder the NVC, , Additiona!!%. 'hanges need to $e made to address the !a'( of finan'ia! s" ort for )eterans after the age of AC. &hen )eterans
ma% ha)e the most need, A!! $enefits sho"!d 'ontin"e "nti! the time of a )eteran+s death and sho"!d not $e sto ed on'e the )eteran
re'ei)es the Canada or B"e$e' Pension P!an 4CPP. BPP5, Li(e other Canadians. )eterans earned CPP or BPP. and their disa$i!it% $enefits sho"!d $e 'onsidered se arate from these monies and 'ontin"e "nti! their death, The dis'riminator% o!i'% a !ied to Reser)e 1or'e ersonne!
ser)ing side $% side &ith Reg"!ar 1or'e $"t 'om ensated at a m"'h !o&er s'a!e for e3"i)a!ent in7"ries is a gross in7"sti'e &hi'h m"st $e fi:ed, O)era!!. to 'hange the NVC to a''ommodate )eterans &ith se)ere
disa$i!ities and in'!"de those items o"t!ined a$o)e &o"!d not $e )er% 'ost!% sin'e on!% D er'ent of a!! NVC )eterans are 'onsidered serio"s!% disa$!ed, One of the most im ortant re'ommendations is that 'reating se arate standards and ension 'ategories for )eterans &ith se)ere disa$i!ities ma% ens"re that the NVC s" &ho are most in need, The '"rrent fee!ing &ithin the Veterans+ Comm"nit% to&ard the resent Go)ernment in genera! and the De artment of Veterans Affairs in arti'"!ar. is one of dissatisfa'tion and anger a$o"t the !a'( of a'tion to 'orre't the man% (no&n defi'ien'ies in the e:isting Charter, The items o"t!ined a$o)e are (no&n $% VAC de artmenta! offi'ia!s at a!! !e)e!s most!% than(s to the Offi'e of the Om$"dsman and a!! are fis'a!!% a'hie)a$!e immediate!%, Time!% im !ementation of these meas"res &o"!d go a !ong &a% to regaining the s" ort of the Veterans+ Comm"nit% and ro)ide a orts )eterans
start oint for a more ositi)e re!ationshi $et&een a!! 'on'erned arties, The time for ta!( and st"dies has !ong sin'e assed, It is no& time for ositi)e a'tion6 and
$ottom !ine is that the time for a'tion is no& and o"r )eterans 'annot &ait an% !onger,
********************************************************************************************************** ATTACH/ENT Additiona! Do'"mentation on E Reser)es Earning Loss 8enefit Disa$i!it% A&ard O)er AC 1ami!ies or s o"ses
Reser)es The current regulations which provide a different rate of pay for Reservist employed in operational theatres is an outright discriminatory policy in which the awarding of smaller benefits to a Reservist is based on the monthly salary of a reservist at $2,700 monthly ($ 2,!00 per annum"# This policy is discriminatory and the government may feel that it is alright to $hire soldiers on the cheap% but places the value of the Regular &orce soldier, involved in the same incident with identical in'uries, above that of the Reservist# This can no longer be permitted to continue# (oth Regular and Reserve &orce individuals with li)e in'uries will suffer the same incapacitation throughout their lives and should receive the same salary considerations and minimum rate of $!2,!*! payable to a totally and permanently incapacitated veteran# +t is ridiculous that the ,overnment allows a double standard to e-ist and + dare say that the .anadian /uman Rights .ommission and the 0upreme .ourt would have something to say about this situation# The 1ew 2eterans .harter 340T be changed to provide e5ual and appropriate benefits to all totally and permanently incapacitated veterans regardless of whether they are a Reservist or a member of the Regular &orce# The Earnings Loss 8enefit, or EL8 The purpose of the 6arnings 7oss (enefit is to provide a 2eteran who is participating in the Rehabilitation 0ervices and 2ocational 8rogram with income replacement allowing them to focus on their rehabilitation goals .urrently the 6arnings 7oss (enefit (67(" provides for 79: of pre;release salary, ending at age *9 for a totally and permanently impaired veteran# +n 20<<, (ill .;99 amended the 1ew 2eterans .harter legislation so that the minimum 67( is established at the .orporal ((asic" annual pay level (for 20< " of $!2,!*!# 7et us loo) at .pl 0mith, who has been released from the .=& and is receiving an 67( of 79: of pre;release salary#
(ut as the .anadian =rmed &orces salaries of their former peers rises the salary of the permanently incapacitated veteran stays at the minimum $!2,!*! or 79: of pre;release salary and there is no hope that this will ever change# This is absolutely ridiculous and mindboggling as to how the politicians and bureaucrats came up with this# +f .pl 0mith is in'ured and released and the ne-t month there is an economic ad'ustment (the government never says it is a pay increase" made to the .pl salary then .pl 0mith is out of luc)# This is devastating for all totally and permanently incapacitated veterans including those who are awaiting their release# The approach utili>ed by the .anadian .ourts in assessing the concept of future loss of income specifically addresses the pro'ected lifetime earnings loss in a personal in'ury claim# 0o if this is applied to civilian wor)ers who are not deliberately placed in ?harm%s way@ by their employer, why should this concept not be applied e5ually as well towards all permanently incapacitated .=& veteransA The pro'ected career earnings of a .=& member based upon <00: of pre;release income should be employed as the basis for the pro'ected lifetime earnings loss for the payment of the 6arnings 7oss (enefit to permanently incapacitated veterans# This would permit the veteran to save funds for the post *9 years when the 67( is cut off and this is especially applicable to the veteran who has less than <0 years service and thus gets a return of pension contributions, but no life;long .&0= pension# The Bmbudsman Report of 20< indicates that of <,!2C totally and permanently incapacitated veterans, *7! are in receipt of 67( and of those, only 27! are also in receipt of the 8ermanent +mpairment =llowance and 0upplement# The remaining !00 who will be paid 67( will have an annual after ta- (<9:" salary of about $ *,000# +t must be remembered that the 67( is offset by any funds received from other benefits such as .&0= and .88 pension payments# =s pointed out in the Bmbudsman Report, individuals in receipt of both the 8ermanent +mpairment =llowance and 0upplement will see an average $*0,000 ($9,000Dmonthly" payment# 1either 2=. nor the Bmbudsman provides an e-planation about the discriminatory factors that reduce the <,!2C totally and permanently incapacitated veterans to 27! who will receive all benefits from those who will get 67( only and those who will receive nothing# There appears to be a wide interpretation of the term $totally and permanently incapacitated%# The disparity in numbers that receive both the 8ermanent +mpairment =llowance and 0upplement compared to those who do not ma)es the benefits appear to be $window dressing%# +t is high time that this issue be addressed and that the legislation around the 67( be changed to provide the totally and permanently incapacitated 2eteran with means to survive physically and financially#
Disa$i!it% A&ard This benefit is generally misunderstood and is awarded for pain and suffering only# The fact that it can be paid in a lump sum or increments is irrelevant to its purpose# +t must not be seen as an
income replacement benefitE it is not# The Bmbudsman has pointed out that the value of the ma-imum benefit has not )ept pace with awards of .anadian courts for civilians who were not placed in harms% way as were .anadian =rmed &orces members# +t is unfortunate that this anomaly was not corrected in 20<< with the other amendments of (ill .;99# /owever, there is no reason why this cannot be done now and this must be a priority of the ,overnment# O)er AC 3any disabled veterans will have a .&0= pension benefit and will also have accumulated credits towards their .88 benefit that should enable them to sustain themselves after age *9 when 67( benefits are cut off# =s noted above, about 27! totally and permanently incapacitated veterans receive both the 8ermanent +mpairment =llowance and 0upplement until age *9 and these individuals should have been able to prepare themselves for their post *9 financial re5uirements# /owever, the totally and permanently incapacitated veteran who did not receive both the 8ermanent +mpairment =llowance and 0upplement and also have a .&0= pension and insufficient credits towards an ade5uate .88 pension is placed in a financially precarious position# .urrently (20<2;20< ", the established annual 7ow;+ncome .ut;Bff level for a single individual is $20, C* and for a married individual at $29, 7F located in a large city# The totally and permanently incapacitated individual without .&0= and .88 would need to rely upon B=0 (average $990#FF monthly" and the ,uaranteed +ncome 0upplement (average $7!7#<< monthly" for financial support# Their monthly income support of $<,2FC#<0 ($<9,977 annually" places them well below the 7ow;+ncome .ut;Bff level# This situation needs to be corrected as soon as possible and the Bmbudsman has provided a possible solution that should be supported by all concerned# 1ami!ies Gith a partner deployed #this puts the onus of ?raising a family@ or living alone; with the constant worry H daily worry as well that their partner who has been deployed will return safely and in one piece# The support given to the partner left behind from feedbac) really depends on the 4nit or (ase where the spous has been left#