Author Topic: Denial of widow's claim 'cruel', says NDP critic  (Read 1380 times)

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Denial of widow's claim 'cruel', says NDP critic
« on: March 23, 2012, 08:06:54 PM »
Denial of widow's claim 'cruel', says NDP critic
Published Wednesday December 28th, 2011

The decision to deny a 74-year-old widow's claim for Agent Orange compensation is "cruel" and is another example of why a public inquiry is needed, NDP Veterans Affairs critic Peter Stoffer said Tuesday.

"A public inquiry will get to the bottom of this and find out exactly how many people are affected," Stoffer said.

After 53 years of marriage, 74-year-old Pauline Kelly's application to receive her late husband's $20,000 ex gratia payment under a Veteran Affairs program was rejected because he was living in a long-term care facility at the time of his death.

"Could you imagine being together that long but because you are in two different facilities, they deny you access to the 'ex gratia' payment," the MP for Sackville-Eastern Shore, Nova Scotia said. "Only the Department of Veterans Affairs could be that, I would say, cruel in its assessment of that situation."

For those hoping to be compensated for exposure to the defoliant chemical, time is running out. Minister of Veterans Affairs Steven Blaney will close the book on Agent Orange ex gratia applications on Friday.

In an email to the Telegraph-Journal on Monday night, Blaney's spokesman Jean-Christophe de le Rue said the government has fulfilled its promise to deal with the Agent Orange victims.

"In December 2010, our Government went even further by enhancing the eligibility criteria as well as extending the deadline for a medical diagnosis and the deadline for applications to June 30, 2011," de la Rue said. "We went beyond our initial commitment by providing additional funds to the program to ensure all those who are eligible for the 'ex-gratia' payment receive it."

Blaney will be reviewing cases until Dec. 30, de la Rue said.

"I can assure you that Minister Blaney and departmental officials are working around the clock until December 30th to make sure fair decisions are made for all applications received," he said.

Michael Blais, president of Canadian Veterans Advocacy, said his organization is not happy with the way the government has handled the situation in Gagetown.

"We are very committed to having this situation resolved. The issues that are confronting our veterans and their families are not being responded to by our government who continues to ignore the plight of so many with this ridiculous and restrictive compensation program," Blais said.

"We have the veterans ombudsman come out and say these payments aren't fair, they need to be revisited. But all of these things are falling on deaf ears."

Guy Parent, Canada's veterans ombudsman, criticized Veterans Affairs Canada last week for excluding certain applicants who should qualify for the payment program.

Parent said Veterans Affairs Canada is denying claims from caregivers based on "very narrow" interpretations.

He specifically referred to a widow who had her claim denied because her husband was in a long-term care facility when he died.

"If they really truly want to honour the men and women that serve our country, call the public inquiry," Stoffer said. "Let the facts come out for everyone to see."
Canadian Veterans Advocacy - One Veteran One Standard

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