Advocating for Change to the New Veterans Charter
As Canadians hear more and more about the deep gaps in care and benefits for Veterans, there is sometimes misunderstanding around the New Veterans Charter and the Legion’s position on it. The following outlines the Legion’s position and activities:
The Royal Canadian Legion never fully or unconditionally supported the New Veterans Charter (NVC). When the NVC was introduced in 2006, the Legion, as well as other Veterans’ organizations, was behind the New Veterans Charter in the beginning because we were told that it was a “living charter” which would be amended as flaws or gaps were identified. The Legion acknowledges that the NVC was adopted without clause-by-clause review in Parliamentary Committee and in the Senate because of a perceived urgent need to adopt a new Charter before troops headed for Afghanistan, to better look after modern Veterans and their families, and to facilitate their transition to civilian life. The Legion has been working to make changes to the NVC since it was introduced, including advocating for changes to the lump sum payment.
Comparisons continue to be made between the Disability Award lump sum paid out under the NVC and the Monthly Disability Pension paid out under the Pension Act. These comparisons do not provide a fair overview of what is provided under the NVC. The NVC provides job placement assistance, rehabilitation services, financial benefits, health services, education assistance, and disability benefits to address quality of life.
However, there are still changes that need to be made, and the Legion continues to advocate for those changes, including:
- A larger Disability Award in line with what is provided to Australian Veterans and to disabled civilian workers who receive general damages awards in law court.
- Improved Earnings Loss Benefit (ELB) to provide to 100% of pre-release income and, if permanently incapacitated, provide ELB for life (not terminated at 65, as is currently the case).
- Projected career earnings of a CF Member should determine minimum ELB.
- Promotion of Academic Research (Physical and Mental Health) to support Integrated Approach to establish VAC Entitlement Eligibility Guidelines (EEGs).
The Legion advocates through the democratic voice of our more than 300,000 members. We use a number of channels to ensure our message is heard.
- Presentations to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs (ACVA)
- Presentations to the Senate Committee
- Regular face to face meetings with the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Minister of Finance, Minister of National Defence, President of the Treasury Board
- Regular discussions with the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of Military Personnel, the Veterans Ombudsman, the Department of National Defence Ombudsman, the Champlain General, Director General Morale and Welfare Services, Director Quality of Life, Military Family Services and other senior officials
- Consultations with leading organizations in Veterans and seniors research and program delivery.
Through these activities and more, the Legion is working to ensure the care and benefits of Canada’s Veterans.
The Legion`s advocacy efforts work. Through our efforts, we realized significant improvements to the New Veterans Charter, including increased Funeral and Burial benefits, flexible payment options for the Disability Award, improved access to the Permanent Impairment Allowance (PIA) and PIA Supplement, and the establishment of a minimum pre-tax income of $40,000 for Earning Loss Benefits.
For more understanding on the Legion’s position on the New Veterans Charter, please read the following:
- Primer on New Veterans Charter (outlines the benefits available through the NVC, and gaps identified in the NVC)
- Benefits & Services of the New Veterans Charter (outlines range of benefits, plus areas still to address)
- Recent Changes to the New Veterans Charter (October 2011)
For those who served to protect the very rights and freedoms we enjoy today, we owe our Veterans our commitment to work on their behalf. Learn more about how the Legion advocates for the care and benefits of Canada`s Veterans on our article on How the Legion Advocates.