Author Topic: One good deed deserves another  (Read 1302 times)

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One good deed deserves another
« on: March 23, 2012, 08:09:32 PM »
One good deed deserves another
Published Tuesday January 3rd, 2012

Late last week, federal Veteran's Affairs Minister Steven Blaney ordered last-minute reviews of several rejected claims for compensation. The claims were made under a program for veterans and civilians who were exposed to toxic defoliant Agent Orange.

Thanks to Minister Blaney's intervention, some 30 claims that previously had been denied were approved. Seventeen cases involved compensation to caregivers for veterans who became so severely ill they could not be cared for at home; another 13 were claims that had been filed late, with extenuating circumstances.

We applaud Minister Blaney for his compassionate and constructive decision, and hope it will help him to deal with an additional complaint: the fact that claims were time-limited to a deadline of June 30, 2011.

MPS are pushing for the deadline to be scrapped because the damage caused by these toxic herbicides is ongoing, and the worst impacts may hit some people after the claims deadline has passed.

Arguably, this already has occurred. Consider the case of former Oromocto resident Debbie Bertrand. The 57-year-old Ms. Bertrand is dying of stage-four lung cancer, a condition that was diagnosed weeks after the claims deadline had passed. Her claim for compensation was subsequently rejected, though MPs continue to lobby on her behalf.

It's not as though very many Canadians would be in a position to make claims if the deadline were extended. The Agent Orange compensation program is limited to military personnel and civilians who may have been exposed to the PCB-contaminated defoliant in 1966 and 1967. Nor is compensation offered for every medical condition that a claimant may have; the program only recognizes those illnesses found to be associated with Agent Orange exposure by U.S. National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine. With 4,900 claims already approved, and many others rejected, there can't be that many Canadians out there who will step forward if the deadline is dropped. So why exclude those who may fall ill after a certain date?

Imposing an arbitrary cut-off date for compensation payments is nothing new in Ottawa; deadlines make it seem as though such programs are more about the appearance of justice than justice itself.

Given Minister Blaney's last minute review, we're pretty sure that he and his government are interested in providing justice. We urge cabinet to remove the deadline, and administer future claims like any other benefit provided by Veterans Affairs.

Canadian Veterans Advocacy - One Veteran One Standard

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