Veterans deserve immediate action

The Green Party of Canada is calling on the Harper Conservatives to promptly implement the recommendations of a new report on the Veterans Charter by the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman.

“It is imperative that we act on the Ombudsman’s report without delay. Any further stretching of the timeline will only serve to increase the physical and mental suffering endured by veterans who believed in Canada so strongly that they willingly defended its principles, secure in the knowledge that Canada would defend them when it became necessary. If justice is indeed the cornerstone of Canadian democracy, then the time for justice for our veterans is long past due,” said Green Leader Elizabeth May, MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands.

The report, the third of its kind in the Ombudsman’s four-part series Improving the Charter: the Parliamentary Review, analyzes the shortcomings of the 2006 New Veterans Charter in the program areas of financial support, vocational rehabilitation and assistance, and family support, and provides an in-depth actuarial analysis comparing the effects of the benefits and entitlements of the Veterans Charter with those of the old system for compensating veterans under the Pension Act. Among other things, the report found that hundreds of the most severely disabled veterans will take a financial hit after they turn 65 because they do not receive certain charter allowances or Canadian Forces pensions, with some at risk of living their retirement years below the poverty level. It also found that the benefits for non-economic impacts such as pain and suffering are often inadequate and below the maximum amounts awarded to Canadians by courts for pain and suffering resulting from injury.

“Veterans are encouraged by the Ombudsman’s report and hope that this sheds a greater light on the enormous disservice that many aspects of the New Veterans Charter has imposed on those who have served us so gallantly. The government announcement of yet another review of the problems that the report has identified in detail will only serve to delay any implementation strategies that could be of benefit right now,” said John Percy, the federal Green Party’s critic on Veteran’s Affairs and the Leader of the Green Party of Nova Scotia.

Although the four-part series of which the recent report and analysis are the final instalments is intended to support the upcoming parliamentary committee review of the Veterans Charter in the fall, many of the recommendations are clear and urgently needed, and can be acted upon now.