Author Topic: Ottawa reverses itself on Agent Orange cases  (Read 1528 times)

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Ottawa reverses itself on Agent Orange cases
« on: March 23, 2012, 08:07:58 PM »
A step forward... but only a step! This act of OUTCRY-driven generosity applies to only 30 applicants. What about the rest of the victims Mr Harper promised to compensate? Our mission for justice is not done yet! Fight.... Fight... Fight ... Fight for what is RIGHT!

Ottawa reverses itself on Agent Orange cases
Cheques sent to 30 people whose claims were initially rejected after outcry over 'scandalous' criteria
By Natalie Stechyson, Postmedia NewsDecember 31, 2011 2:31 AM

Pauline Kelly from Wirral, an area in rural New Brunswick close to the Canadian Forces Base Gagetown grounds, holds a photo of herself and husband Floyd. Veterans Affairs Canada denied her request to receive her late husband's Agent Orange ex-gratia payment.
Photograph by: Kate Braydon, Telegraph-Journal, Postmedia News

Grant Pye will be waiting anxiously by his phone for the next few days to see if he's one of the 30 people whose previously rejected Agent Orange compensation claims will be reversed.

Pye, 58, has diabetes and nerve damage in both of his arms. He spent all his summers and weekends at his family property in New Brunswick just a kilometre outside Canadian Forces Base Gagetown. Despite proving his illnesses are linked to the Agent Orange spray program that took place there in the late 1960s, Pye has been twice denied ex gratia payment because the summer home wasn't his residence.

While Pye is anxious to hear if he's one of the 30 whose cases have been reversed, he said he's having a hard time being hopeful.

"It's hard to trust the politicians. There are so many people who have been denied who should have got it," Pye said from his home in Pleasant Villa, N.B.

In the face of mounting pressure and after consultations with local MPs, the federal government wrote cheques Friday for 30 Canadians affected by the chemical that were previously rejected for ex gratia compensation.

Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney decided to be more flexible about some of the criteria and the department couldn't ignore the outcry about those whose claims were previously rejected, government sources told Postmedia News.

"Our government promised to deal with the Agent Orange issue and we are delivering on this promise," Codie Taylor, a spokeswoman for Blaney, said in an email.

"Member of Parliament John Williamson has been working closely with Minister Blaney over the last few weeks, providing firsthand knowledge on a number of cases. As a result, Minister Blaney has instructed officials to review certain cases with more compassion."

The reversal means 13 people rejected for filing late and 17 who filed for primary caregiver compensation will soon be getting $20,000 cheques.

And the number of people whose cases will be reversed could grow.

The Agent Orange ex gratia payment program is meant to compensate those who were exposed to the defoliant chemical and are suffering from medical conditions related to the spray program that took place at CFB Gagetown in 1966 and 1967. The program allows primary caregivers to apply on behalf of an individual who would have been eligible but died.

Over the past few weeks many of those whose claims have been rejected have spoken out.

On Tuesday, NDP veterans affairs critic Peter Stoffer said the decision to deny a 74-yearold widow's claim for Agent Orange compensation is "cruel" and is another example of why a public inquiry is needed. The widow had been denied payment because her husband of more than 50 years had been living in a long term care facility at the time of his death.

Last week, Canada's veterans ombudsman Guy Parent stepped forward on behalf of those who have been denied ex gratia payments, calling the criteria used for primary caregivers "scandalous."
? Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
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