OTTAWA, ON, 1 OCTOBER, 2013 - The two Veterans Ombudsman’s Reports, Improving the New Veterans Charter – The Report and Improving the New Veterans Charter – Actuarial Analysis, underscores the urgent requirement for an expanded review of the New Veterans Charter to focus on financial compensation, vocational rehabilitation and family support.
The Royal Canadian Legion applauds the reports from Guy Parent and his team. “The Ombudsman’s office has provided a comprehensive analysis of the Charter which is supported by sound research and data,” says Gordon Moore, Dominion President of the Legion. “The Legion’s position on the NVC is very well established and with these reports the Government should stand up, take notice and immediately begin to act on this information,” adds Moore.
In the report the Ombudsman calls for urgent action to address the key shortcomings:
- 1. Economic financial support after age 65 to eligible totally and permanently incapacitated Veterans. This is a small number of the most vulnerable of our Veterans. It is unacceptable that Veterans and their families who have sacrificed for this country live their lives with insufficient financial means.
- Ensure that those Veterans who meet the eligibility criteria for Permanent Impairment Allowance and the Supplement are receiving these benefits.
- The Earnings Loss Benefit needs to increase to 90% of pre-release salary.
- Provide the same Earnings Loss Benefit to former part-time Reserve Force members who have been injured attributable to their service.
- The compensation for the pain and suffering, related to a service-related injury or illness, needs to be increased to keep pace with compensation provided to disabled civilian workers who receive general damages from the courts.
“These same issues have been at the forefront of Legion advocacy as mandated by the delegates at the Legion’s Dominion Convention in 2008, 2010 and 2012,” adds Moore. “More recently in May 2013 the Veterans Consultation Group, including 17 Veterans organizations, sent a letter to the Minister of Veterans Affairs raising similar priorities.”
The Legion was pleased to hear that VAC will open the NVC to an extensive review but a solid action and implementation plan is urgently needed. “We echo the Ombudsman’s statement that a protracted review is not what is needed now. When you combine the reports from the government’s own Veterans review committees – the Parliamentary Standing Committee, the Senate Sub-Committee, the New Veterans Charter Advisory Group – along with the Legion’s own Dominion Convention resolutions, it is clear government has a blueprint that can be implemented very quickly,” says Moore.
The Legion asks the government to take the necessary steps to ensure input from all Veteran stakeholders forms a key part of the action plan. “Veterans and their families must be part of this review” says Moore. “As the country’s largest Veterans organization, the Legion is a powerful voice for all Veterans and looks forward to playing a large part in making real improvements to the New Veterans Charter.
The Legion fully supports and will strenuously push for action on the three pillars the Ombudsman highlights in his report: financial compensation, the complexity and limitations of the vocational rehabilitation programs for our injured Veterans and the care of our Veterans families. Our Veterans need to know that when they are injured as a result of their military service, the government will provide the resources, tools and care to ensure a successful transition to civilian life.
The New Veterans Charter, when introduced in 2006, was heralded with much fanfare and celebrated as a living document. “Repeatedly, the Legion and all Veterans groups have called on Parliamentarians to live up to their promise to keep the NVC a living document,” says Moore. “Today the Veterans Ombudsman stated the same thing on several occasions; the government must act and the Legion stands ready to assist,” concludes Moore.