Author Topic: Equitas Notice of Civil Claim Attorney General of Canada  (Read 44818 times)

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Sylvain Chartrand CD

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Karygiannis Press Conference with Equitas Society
« Reply #45 on: December 15, 2013, 11:28:22 PM »
Karygiannis Press Conference with Equitas Society Part I
http://youtu.be/sh-LMe3sob0

Karygiannis Press Conference with Equitas Society Part II
http://youtu.be/LxbKZsBvXiY


Sylvain Chartrand CD

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Disabled veterans challenge new charter
« Reply #46 on: December 17, 2013, 09:04:03 AM »
Disabled veterans challenge new charter
 
Vancouver Sun December 17, 2013

http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Disabled+veterans+challenge+charter/9295083/story.html

The Pension Act was created by Parliament after the First World War and specified how veterans were to be treated in respect to service related disabilities. It remained in effect until it was replaced by the New Veterans Charter on April 1, 2006.

A recent report by the office of the Veterans Ombudsman determined that the veterans most at financial risk are designated "totally and permanently incapacitated veteran."

This designation indicates the veteran's disabilities are creating permanent barriers to transition, such that the veteran cannot work or cannot work at the income level he or she once had.

There are 1,428 Canadian Forces veterans who are totally and permanently incapacitated, of these, 406 do not receive any monthly allowance or Canadian Forces pension.

Under the Pension Act, all would have received a monthly disability pension for life.

I have never heard of veterans bringing a class-action lawsuit against the government over the Pension Act.

The same cannot be said about the New Veterans Charter.

MWO Ret'd Wayne Marshall

Chilliwack

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Disabled+veterans+challenge+charter/9295083/story.html#ixzz2nkGQEIBn

Sylvain Chartrand CD

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Brechin veteran fights for compensation
« Reply #47 on: December 25, 2013, 09:20:54 AM »
Brechin veteran fights for compensation

Published Thursday, November 7, 2013 6:51PM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 8, 2013 1:31PM EST

VIDEO http://barrie.ctvnews.ca/mobile/brechin-veteran-fights-for-compensation-1.1532917



A Brechin man injured in Afghanistan four years ago continues to struggle to break through government red tape for compensation.

Tim Aleman has come a long way since March 19th, 2009. That was the day a fellow soldier stepped on a pressure activated bomb while on patrol in Afghanistan. The blast killed two Canadian soldiers, an interpreter, and left Aleman clinging to life.

“The blood started coming out, it was coming out of my throat and my face and the next thing I remember was a young soldier jumping on me and performing first aid.”

Four years and multiple surgeries later, Aleman deals with the effects of his combat injury every day. He has shrapnel in his neck and suffers from post-traumatic stress. But it’s not just the injuries making his life difficult.

“Bureaucratic red tape and the process of how everything has changed make it very difficult and frustrating for everyone to go through to get any claims and compensation for their injuries.”

In the past, injured Vets were compensated with disability pension which covered expanses for the rest of their lives. In 2006, the government changed things and introduced a new veterans charter.
Related Stories

    Wounded ex-soldiers to be first in line for federal government jobs

“It became a lump sum payment, up to $250,000. Right now there are guys who lost both legs in Afghanistan and all they get is $250,000 and that’s not right.”

Many injured and ill soldiers struggle, a reality brought to light earlier this fall by Canada's Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent who says there is an urgent need for changes in the way compensation is handled.

The office of Julian Fantino, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, sent CTV News this statement on Friday, November 8th, 2013:"The Government will support the comprehensive review of the New Veterans Charter, including all enhancements, with a special focus placed on the most seriously injured, support for families and the delivery of programs by Veterans Affairs Canada."

On Thursday, the Conservatives introduced legislation that would give injured veterans priority hiring for government jobs.

The important thing for Aleman: soldiers need to know they’ll be looked after when they get home.

“Veterans need to be assured that they’re going to be looked after and their families are going to be looked after when they come back from a combat zone.”

A number of soldiers who severed in Afghanistan have filed a class-action lawsuit against the government over the new charter. A lawsuit the federal government plans to defend itself against saying they can’t be bound by the decisions of previous governments on how to care for injured veterans.

Sylvain Chartrand CD

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Equitas Testimony at Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs Dec 10 2013
« Reply #48 on: January 07, 2014, 06:11:59 PM »
http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=6384742&Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=41&Ses=2


41st PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION
Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs

EVIDENCE

CONTENTS
Tuesday, December 10, 2013



   1100
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NDP))
   V            Hon. Jim Karygiannis (Scarborough—Agincourt, Lib.)
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Jim Scott (President, Equitas Society)
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Jean-Rodrigue Paré (Committee Researcher)

   1105
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Ben Lobb (Huron—Bruce, CPC)
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Jim Scott

   1110
   V            Mr. Donald Sorochan (As an Individual)

   1115

   1120

   1125
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Donald Sorochan
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Kevin Berry (As an Individual)
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Kevin Berry

   1130

   1135
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)

   1140
   V            Hon. Jim Karygiannis
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Hon. Jim Karygiannis
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Hon. Jim Karygiannis
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Hon. Jim Karygiannis
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Hon. Jim Karygiannis
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Parm Gill (Brampton—Springdale, CPC)
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Glen Kirkland (Equitas Society Veterans Council)
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Glen Kirkland
   V            Mr. Parm Gill
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Parm Gill
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Glen Kirkland
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Aaron Bedard (Equitas Society Veterans Council)

   1145
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Sylvain Chicoine (Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, NDP)
   V            Mr. Donald Sorochan
   V            Mr. Sylvain Chicoine
   V            Mr. Jim Scott
   V            Mr. Sylvain Chicoine
   V            Mr. Jim Scott
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Sylvain Chicoine
   V            Mr. Donald Sorochan

   1150
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Parm Gill
   V            Mr. Jim Scott
   V            Mr. Parm Gill
   V            Mr. Jim Scott
   V            Mr. Kevin Berry
   V            Mr. Parm Gill
   V            Mr. Jim Scott

   1155
   V            Mr. Parm Gill
   V            Hon. Jim Karygiannis
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Parm Gill
   V            Mr. Jim Scott
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Glen Kirkland
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Glen Kirkland
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Hon. Jim Karygiannis
   V            Mr. Jim Scott

   1200
   V            Mr. Donald Sorochan
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Bryan Hayes (Sault Ste. Marie, CPC)
   V            Mr. Jim Scott

   1205
   V            Mr. Bryan Hayes
   V            Mr. Jim Scott
   V            Mr. Bryan Hayes
   V            Mr. Jim Scott
   V            Mr. Bryan Hayes
   V            Mr. Jim Scott
   V            Mr. Bryan Hayes
   V            Mr. Jim Scott
   V            Mr. Bryan Hayes
   V            Mr. Jim Scott
   V            Mr. Bryan Hayes
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. John Rafferty (Thunder Bay—Rainy River, NDP)

   1210
   V            Mr. Kevin Berry
   V            Mr. John Rafferty
   V            Mr. Kevin Berry
   V            Mr. Bryan Hayes
   V            Mr. Kevin Berry
   V            Mr. John Rafferty
   V            Mr. Aaron Bedard
   V            Mr. John Rafferty
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Glen Kirkland
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)

   1215
   V            Mr. Ted Opitz (Etobicoke Centre, CPC)
   V            Mr. Jim Scott
   V            Mr. Ted Opitz
   V            Mr. Jim Scott
   V            Mr. Ted Opitz
   V            Mr. Jim Scott
   V            Mr. Ted Opitz
   V            Mr. Jim Scott
   V            Mr. Ted Opitz
   V            Mr. Jim Scott
   V            Mr. Ted Opitz
   V            Mr. Jim Scott
   V            Mr. Ted Opitz
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Ted Opitz
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)

   1220
   V            Hon. Laurie Hawn (Edmonton Centre, CPC)
   V            Mr. Donald Sorochan
   V            Hon. Laurie Hawn
   V            Mr. Donald Sorochan
   V            Hon. Laurie Hawn
   V            Mr. Donald Sorochan
   V            Hon. Laurie Hawn
   V            Mr. Donald Sorochan
   V            Hon. Laurie Hawn
   V            Mr. Donald Sorochan
   V            Hon. Laurie Hawn
   V            Hon. Jim Karygiannis
   V            Hon. Laurie Hawn
   V            Mr. Jim Scott
   V            Hon. Laurie Hawn
   V            Mr. Jim Scott
   V            Hon. Laurie Hawn
   V            Mr. Jim Scott
   V            Hon. Laurie Hawn
   V            Mr. Jim Scott
   V            Hon. Laurie Hawn
   V            Mr. Glen Kirkland
   V            Hon. Laurie Hawn
   V            Mr. Glen Kirkland

   1225
   V            Hon. Laurie Hawn
   V            Mr. Glen Kirkland
   V            Hon. Laurie Hawn
   V            Mr. Glen Kirkland
   V            Hon. Laurie Hawn
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Hon. Laurie Hawn
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Glen Kirkland
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Ms. Manon Perreault (Montcalm, NDP)
   V            Mr. Jim Scott
   V            Ms. Manon Perreault
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Ms. Manon Perreault
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)

   1230
   V            Mr. Jim Scott
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Corneliu Chisu (Pickering—Scarborough East, CPC)
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Kevin Berry
   V            Mr. Corneliu Chisu
   V            Mr. Kevin Berry
   V            Mr. Corneliu Chisu
   V            Mr. Kevin Berry

   1235
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)

   1240
   V            Mr. Ben Lobb
   V            Mr. Kevin Berry
   V            Mr. Ben Lobb
   V            Mr. Kevin Berry
   V            Mr. Ben Lobb
   V            Mr. Kevin Berry
   V            Mr. Ben Lobb
   V            Mr. Kevin Berry
   V            Mr. Ben Lobb
   V            Mr. Kevin Berry
   V            Mr. Ben Lobb

   1245
   V            Mr. Kevin Berry
   V            Mr. Ben Lobb
   V            Mr. Kevin Berry
   V            Mr. Ben Lobb
   V            Mr. Kevin Berry
   V            Mr. Ben Lobb
   V            Mr. Kevin Berry
   V            Mr. Ben Lobb
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Mr. Kevin Berry
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Hon. Jim Karygiannis
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)
   V            Hon. Jim Karygiannis
   V            Mr. Jim Scott
   V            Hon. Jim Karygiannis
   V            Mr. Jim Scott
   V            Hon. Jim Karygiannis
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)

   1250
   V            Mr. Aaron Bedard
   V            Hon. Jim Karygiannis
   V            Mr. Aaron Bedard
   V            Hon. Jim Karygiannis
   V            Mr. Aaron Bedard
   V            The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer)








Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs

NUMBER 010
   l       
2nd SESSION
   l       
41st PARLIAMENT
EVIDENCE
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

*   *   *

  + (1100) 

[English]
next intervention

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NDP)):
    Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and especially to our honoured veterans. Thank you all very much for coming.

    On behalf of our chairperson, Mr. Royal Galipeau, who unfortunately is still under the weather, I'll be assuming the chair in his absence, and hopefully he'll return very soon. I welcome you to the standing committee.

    Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) and section 20.1, or the statutory review provision, of the Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act, we're extremely honoured this morning to have as our witnesses, Mr. Jim Scott of the Equitas Society and as individuals, Donald Sorochan and Kevin Berry.

    Before we start, I want to thank each of you for your service to our country.

    Could you gentlemen introduce yourself so we can have it recorded, and then we'll proceed to your presentation.

    I see Mr. Karygiannis's hand up.

next intervention previous intervention

Hon. Jim Karygiannis (Scarborough—Agincourt, Lib.):
    I have a point of order.

    Chair, two other veterans have joined the Equitas Society as individuals, Aaron Bedard and Glen Kirkland, and I'm sure that if it's okay with everybody, we could also ask them to say a couple of words or to take questions.

next intervention previous intervention

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer):
    I was just going to state to the people here that if they could introduce everyone here, if they're part of this organization, then we'd be happy to have their discussion as well.

    Mr. Scott, if you would like to introduce everyone with you, including our veterans, that would be greatly appreciated.

    Again, on behalf of the committee and the House of Commons, thank you all very much for making the journey to us today and helping us in our work, our all-party deliberations to analyze the new Veterans Charter to see where we can go forward on this.

next intervention previous intervention

Mr. Jim Scott (President, Equitas Society):
    Thank you very much, Peter

    Ladies and gentlemen, we're very honoured to be here to be able to address this important issue.

    I'll introduce those who have come with us: Glen Kirkland, who does not know that I used to commute to work with his dad and used to see him when he was just a young kid, days back in Delta that he doesn't remember; Aaron Bedard from Vancouver, one of the representative plaintiffs in a pending class action lawsuit run by the law firm Miller Thomson; Kevin Berry, a war veteran, who is also a representative plaintiff; and me, the father of a veteran who was looking into why there were issues with the new Veterans Charter; and Don Sorochan, the lead counsel for Miller Thomson, representing the plaintiffs through the legal process.

next intervention previous intervention

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer):
    Before you start, I want to advise the committee that our analyst, Jean-Rodrigue Paré, would like to say a couple of words about the process of what we're doing.

[Translation]
next intervention previous intervention

Mr. Jean-Rodrigue Paré (Committee Researcher):
    I will say it in French and kindly ask the interpreters not to make any mistakes.

    Some questions have been raised as to whether members could express themselves freely, given that the government has filed an appeal on a case that is currently before a court in British Columbia. The sub judice convention applies here. Under this convention, members must refrain from taking part in public debate on these questions, on questions of fact in particular. Members must not become directly involved in the proceedings of a case. However, in this case, the committee was designated as an appropriate vehicle for addressing the dissatisfaction expressed by some veterans. This is a fluid convention. As long as members use their judgment, I do not see why we could not start discussing these matters.

  + -(1105) 
next intervention previous intervention

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer):
    Thank you very much.

[English]

    Mr. Lobb, please.

next intervention previous intervention

Mr. Ben Lobb (Huron—Bruce, CPC):
    Mr. Chair, please remind all guests about the protocol in committee about the taking of pictures when the committee's already begun.

next intervention previous intervention

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer):
    Thank you.

    Anyone in the media or taking pictures please be advised of the proper protocol.

    Mr. Scott, please proceed, sir.

next intervention previous intervention

Mr. Jim Scott:
    Thank you very much.

     I would like to reiterate that we really appreciate this opportunity to appear before your committee, first as the parents of a veteran, and second, in my case, as the president of the Equitas Disabled Soldiers Funding Society, which is a non-partisan, volunteer, and now national organization.

    With my wife Holly, I am a parent of a Canadian Forces Reserves soldier, Master Bombardier Daniel Christopher Scott, of the 15th Field Artillery Regiment, a reserve unit in British Columbia, who was severely wounded in Afghanistan on February 12, 2010. The second of our three children, Dan did two tours of duty in Afghanistan, coming home badly injured.

    At the age of 24, in the service of Canada and because of an accidental bomb blast that took the life of Corporal Josh Baker and injured four other Canadian soldiers, my son had to have one of his kidneys removed, his spleen removed, and part of his pancreas removed. As a result of that, his life has been changed. For these injuries, he received a settlement under the new Veterans Charter of $41,500, with no other benefits such as retraining or earnings loss benefits.

    It was difficult for me to believe that my son's life-threatening injuries were deemed to be worth so little. I should add a bit here. My wife actually works for an insurance company. Her job is to take litigated files and determine the one-time lump sum cash value. She has 200 files at any one time. We just couldn't understand why this was so disproportionately low. I also learned from my son that this was not unusual. Many of his fellow soldiers who were coming back from the Afghan conflict were being seriously disadvantaged by the lump sum payment under the new Veterans Charter.

     I approached the government directly and was given assurances that the enhancements to the new Veterans Charter under Bill C-55 and additional funding for soldiers would address all these problems. However, I haven't seen this promise fulfilled as far as the compensation goes for the individual soldiers affected. I still see these small lump sum payments.

     As a result, I sought legal advice and collaboration, which eventually led me to Don Sorochan, with the law firm Miller Thomson. As a consequence of Miller Thomson's agreeing to represent the soldiers legal interests pro bono, somebody had to pay for their disbursement costs. Mr. Sorochan convinced me that we would have to form a society that would raise the disbursement costs to go forward with this program, and that was the beginning of the Equitas Society. It was strictly to fund the disbursement costs.

    However, soldiers started to contact us with their cases. It was an awful lot of work. Sometimes for three hours a day we would have to respond to e-mails and phone calls. I know that Don Sorochan is in the same boat. We received hundreds of calls and e-mails.

     As a result of these examples, we found three key issues with the new Veterans Charter that were somewhat troubling. We divided the cases into the severely disabled, the moderately disabled, and the partially disabled.

    For the severely disabled who receive their lump sum payment and monthly benefits support, we found that, compared to the previous Pension Act, they could be financially disadvantaged by approximately 30%. This is due to the new Veterans Charter reduction of benefits at age 65, and the fact that there are tax and clawback considerations to their monthly settlements, which is not normal for a workmen's compensation monthly payment.

    Also, we found in talking to the soldiers that the clawback is actually a disincentive for these severely disabled members to find other employment. We encourage all of them to go forward with their lives, but for some reason, getting their money clawed back starts to make them want to just collect money. So we have some issues with the way that's being administered.

  + -(1110) 

    Secondly, we have the moderately disabled. These are Canadian Forces members who will be discharged because they don't meet the requirement of universality of service and who will receive two years or more of earning lost benefits as they're retrained. But they can be disadvantaged tremendously by up to 65%, because if you take the total cash value they would get over their lifetime under the old system, they have said to us that under the new system—and we believe them—there is a big gap in the benefits.

    But what I would really like to emphasize is the Canadian Forces reserve members—especially from the province of British Columbia where we don't have a standing military base, so we raise the army with reserve soldiers—have been sent into harm's way. They have injuries. They've come back and these injuries are not such that they will be removed from the reserve unit. They're not discharged, so none of these programs come into play. However, they have to take their injuries into the civilian workplace and try to get employment.

    It's quite sad because a lot of them say that they were going to be police officers and so on, and I ask them, “Can you run” or “Can you walk”? No. But then how are they going to do that? Their settlements are $26,000 or $40,000. It's just not enough to compensate them for the fact that they're going to have a permanent disability for the rest of their lives. But they aren't discharged from the reserves so they don't trigger any of these other programs.

    When the program first came in it was supposed to be that they would remain in the military so it wouldn't really have been an issue.

    The last issue we found, which is somewhat different from the promise in the new Veterans Charter is that a lot of the home units are making special deals with their soldiers so they can compensate them directly. Although this is very commendable, the individual soldiers know that this guy is getting this deal at this unit and that guy is getting this deal at that unit. It actually creates a lot of issues while people try to compensate for the fact that the new Veterans Charter is not accommodating to them.

    The other issue is that some of these side deals are quite questionable if you were to look into them. It puts a tremendous amount of stress on the soldiers who are supposed to be reintegrating into society to know that the light of day cannot really shine on how the rehabilitation programs work. I can talk more about that offline.

    In summary, the settlements under the new Veterans Charter in many cases do not equal the settlements under the previous Pension Act or under the Workers' Compensation Act, or even lump sum payments awarded by the courts.

    I've left a 30-page document, in both French and English. There are some factual changes to this document but it does outline the issues here when we compare the new Veterans Charter payments to workers' compensation, to court settlements, and to previous pension acts.

     I'm not saying that the new Veterans Charter doesn't work, but there are cases that have been outlined to us where it simply has failed or where there are major gaps in the program.

    Don.

next intervention previous intervention

Mr. Donald Sorochan (As an Individual):
    Thank you.

    I'm Don Sorochan. I'm the lead counsel in the class action that flowed from the visit that Jim made to my offices, in which he told me of the various cases that had come up.

    I became aware of it because one of our neighbour's kids, whom I've known since his mother came home with him as a baby, served in Afghanistan. While in British Columbia, he was ordered to go and clear some brush and trees. A tree fell on him and his legs were seriously damaged, requiring surgery in Afghanistan and Germany, and then follow-up surgery in Vancouver. He was still being kept in the military when I heard about this situation from his father.

     In years before that, prior to the Afghanistan war, there were instances in the military of people who had been injured in the normal course of events, and the issue then was universality of service. If you were injured and you couldn't perform completely, there was a tendency in the military to try to have you removed from the Canadian Forces.

    That wasn't the case with this young man. In fact, the armed forces were basically making a job for him. They were making a job for him at the Jericho base in Vancouver, and he was getting some level of support from that.

    You'll see in the written material I've handed out that, when he came in to see me, he told me he was getting a lump-sum award of $13,000. I make reference in the material to the details in the statement of claim and the judgment of the British Columbia Supreme Court. I don't have time to get bogged down in details here, but I did want to make a point that this $13,000 that I refer to in my written material is only the issue that triggered it. At the end of the day, he received some additional moneys for PTSD. This is the thing that got me wondering how this could be.

    All political parties are represented here. I've worked with all the political parties during my career, and I've learned to respect members of all political parties. I believe there's a genuine effort on all sides to do right by our veterans.

    I have to say I was completely astonished. I made some inquiries of people—I'm not going to name them—people who were ministers. I asked how this got in. How did this happen? They said this was supposed to be a benefit. All parties voted 100% to bring in this new Veterans Charter.

     While I'm going to say kind things about politicians, I'm not so kindly inclined towards the bureaucrats, because they basically snow people. We were told by the bureaucracy that this was for a benefit. But the research I've done shows that it was well and truly known to those bureaucrats that it would have the adverse effects that it has had, and it was an effort by the bureaucracy to cut budgets and save money. It did so on the backs of our veterans.

    At the time it was being thought about, there wasn't any war going on. It wasn't that we anticipated that we would be having a whole bunch of new casualties. It was, in fact, some sort of academic exercise to look to how we could mesh the various pension schemes of the federal government. But I digress.

    I've posed some questions at the front of my written remarks I've handed to you. Is there any justification for compensating veterans for injuries incurred while serving Canada on a lesser basis than the courts would award in damages in personal injury litigation? I'm going to be talking about the honour of the crown as a way of enforcing the social covenant.

    In the aboriginal context, we are still working our way through what the honour of the crown means. There's no ambiguity here, though, about what is meant by appropriate compensation for injuries. There isn't a type of personal injury whose value hasn't been assessed by our courts, whether it occurs by a medical error or motor vehicle accident or whatever. The courts have assessed what the value would be for a given injury, so we don't have a big question mark about what it means to have adequate damages paid.

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    The first question I would ask is whether there is any justification for these types of personal injuries departing in a lesser extent from what other Canadians would get if they had an injury that could go to the courts.

    The next question I would ask is whether there is any justification for compensating veterans under the new Veterans Charter differently than old veterans were compensated under the pension cheque. What's the difference? They all served Canada. It was quite clear when the new Veterans Charter was advanced that it was not—I repeat, not—to affect the previous pension benefits of our World War II, Korean, and other veterans. It was to go forward.

    Well, that might have kept the wolves at bay for people who would be howling if you brought in a piece of legislation that cut the benefits to existing veterans. You can tell me what you think your constituents would have said as they headed out of the Legions if that had been brought in. I submit that there's no justification for old veterans being paid considerably more compensation than new veterans.

     Is the substantial reduction of benefits under the new Veterans Charter a breach of the social covenant? On that, I know there are people who have said, “Well, Sorochan, how can you argue that this promise made by the Prime Minister of Canada on the eve of the First World War can bind a subsequent government?”

    It can do that because it wasn't just any promise. It was a promise that led to our being a country. We weren't independent in 1867. We only became an independent country, where the Westminster Parliament couldn't override the laws passed in this building by the Statute of Westminster, in 1931. The independence that led to the Statute of Westminster in 1931 flowed from the victories that the Canadian army obtained in the First World War, and particularly the battle at Vimy Ridge.

    That promise, that social covenant, was made by the Prime Minister of the day as a foundational promise, not of his government, not of his political party, but of the people of Canada to those who were going to put themselves in harm's way of an unimaginable nature. Remembering what they faced at Vimy Ridge, they faced an obstacle that had defeated the French army and other armies before it. They were men who were going out of trenches into machine-gun fire with almost certain consequences of injury and death. In fact, of the people who heard Prime Minister Baldwin speak, 50% of them became casualties, that is, 50% of the people involved in that battle were killed or wounded.

    It was not just any promise. It was a promise made to people who then and subsequently have put their lives on the line for their country. If they didn't obey the orders of their senior officers, up until capital punishment was removed, they could have been executed. It's still an offence. You don't as a soldier get to decide whether you like the orders you're given by the chain of command on behalf of the country. You must obey the order or suffer the consequence. There's no other member of society, including others who put themselves in harm's way daily—police officers and firemen—who can be sent to prison for not obeying their orders.

    So the social covenant lived on. It lived on in legislation. It wasn't just a transitory speech made in order to bring people to the battlefield in the First World War. It lived on through legislation, and it disappeared from the legislation in the new Veterans Charter. Somebody thought that taking the reference to the covenant out of the legislation meant it didn't count any more. In my respectful submission, it counts, and it's a constitutionally protected concept.

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    So how do you enforce that constitutionally protected concept? I'd suggest we do it through the honour of the crown. The honour of the crown has been used to give effect to promises that the Government of Canada, through its representatives, made when they built this country geographically, and when they dealt with our first nations as they went across the country. The alternative was the way the Americans did it. They had their so-called Indian wars. We didn't have Indian wars. We had commitments to our first nations, and they have been given effect to constitutionally by the honour of the crown. There's more vagueness as to what it all means in the aboriginal context, I would suggest to you, than there is in this context. As I said before, we know what the courts have valued these items at. I get carried away when I start talking about these things.

    I want to suggest that you're all here as members from different parties, but you're all here, just as I was, as a member of the community. I didn't get involved in this because I'm politically active. I got involved in it because a father walked across the street and said his son was very seriously hurt and was suffering by it. I don't have any screening on my telephone, and I get calls that come through on a daily basis from people in tears, not just from the veterans, but equally often from their families. The effect of this on families is unbelievable. I can't believe that you aren't getting those calls in your offices. I can't believe there's a community in Canada where people aren't touched by this issue. I would really have a merry Christmas if the joy of the season would descend upon this committee so that we could put aside partisan concerns and try to address this for the good of your constituents.

    Can I wrap up with one brief story? I was told not to tell stories.

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The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer):
    Very briefly, sir.

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Mr. Donald Sorochan:
    It involves Mandela, so I think it's timely.

    In 2000 I went to a conference in South Africa. I presented a speaker's pole to Nelson Mandela, and I got to spend some time with him before that. He heard I was from Canada and his eyes lit up and he said, “We owe a great deal to Canada”—“we” being South Africa. He said, “You gave us our constitution.”

    I don't know if you know this, but the South African constitution was a product of the working papers of the Meech Lake accord and various other documents of constitutional puzzling here in Canada. It was used as the foundation for the South African constitution. In particular, one part of our discussion in Canada on property rights that we didn't choose to put into our charter of rights and freedoms was a fundamental part of the South African way of solving their problem. They needed that constitutional safeguard so that the white farmers wouldn't feel their property would be taken away.

    What happened when I gave Mandela that speaker's pole is that he came down off the stage and embraced another white man in the second row of the crowd. I asked who he was. I was told he was his prosecutor, the man who had asked for the death penalty for Nelson Mandela.

    There are two points to this story. If Nelson Mandela can go down and embrace his prosecutor, all of you from different political stripes can get together, embrace each other, and embrace the veterans and solve this problem for them. I assure you that this is a very serious problem. It's not just the suicides of the serving members that are illustrative of this problem. You don't even know about the suicides of people who aren't serving in the Canadian Forces. These are people who are suffering on a daily basis.

    I ask you in the spirit of, well, in the spirit of Mandela, in the spirit of Christmas, in the spirit of whatever, to get this thing solved so that your constituents are treated in a fair way.

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The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer):
    Sir, thank you very much.

    We now move on to Mr. Kevin Berry, please.

    Kevin, if you'd like, you can introduce your dog as well.

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Mr. Kevin Berry (As an Individual):
    Hello. My name is Kevin Berry. I'm from Vancouver, British Columbia. I have a service dog here with me, Tommy. He's a 21-month-old German Shepherd, Lab, and Doberman cross. He was provided by Citadel Canine Society out of Vancouver. Tommy is my service dog for post-traumatic stress disorder, and that's part of why I'm here today.

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The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer):
    Welcome here, Kevin.

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Mr. Kevin Berry:
     Thank you for having me.

    Ladies and gentlemen, Canada replaced a fair system with an unfair one, halfway through a war. From First World War pensions—that were argued on this Hill by veterans who came aboard trains to argue in front of Parliament—until March 31, 2006, veterans could count on one inalienable truth: so long as there was a Government of Canada, there would be the steadying hand of support, and the daily acknowledgement of their suffering, in the form of a monthly pension.

    This support was lifetime and without reservation. There were no conditions. Rank did not impact compensation. Neither did future earnings. It was a fair system.

    The priceless peace of mind that is supposed to be there for those injured or disabled in the service of Canada is now gone. Make no mistake: I am here today because lives hang in the balance.

    I have a tattoo to memorialize my friends who fell in Afghanistan. I have 12 names tattooed on my arm. Five of them have taken their own lives as a result of their service. In 2003-04, 2,200 people went to Afghanistan with me. In our first year back, seven of them took their own lives. That was the first year back. There have been dozens more since.

    Now, what role does the lump sum pay in this? The lump sum versus the Pension Act goes after three things: stability, security, and hope.

    In terms of security, a wound or an injury that was sustained in the service of Canada has, since 1919, earned a monthly pension. That connects the daily pain and suffering of the veteran to the Government of Canada and, by extension, to the Canadian people.

    Every morning when I wake up, I'm compensated under the Pension Act for my lack of hearing and my bad knees. When my knees ache and I put my hearing aids in—I'm 30, by the way—I'm reminded that there's a connection to the Government of Canada and, by extension, the people; that my sacrifice is remembered; and that it's dealt with through a financial stipend. It's not a huge amount of money. I'm not going to get rich off of it. But it's a nice reminder that I haven't been forgotten and that's acknowledged—every day.

    This reflects our unique relationship with Canada. We are members of society who have sacrificed our bodies and minds for the collective betterment of our country.

    Now, a lump sum? We're not mercenaries. We're not sent into harm's way for profit. We're not sent into harm's way on the understanding that if we're hurt we'll be given a bag of money. We're sent into harm's way by our country, and we are told, from the day we enter basic training, that our country will take care of us if we are hurt—period. Do not pass go. There are no other terms and conditions to it. If you are hurt, we will take care of you.

    We are not being taken care of under the new Veterans Charter. It's been a failure.

    We can fix it. This is why I'm here.

    We have something in the military called unlimited liability, which Aaron and Jim alluded to earlier. You don't hear about the Toronto Police Service ordered to assault a machine gun nest. Friends of mine are on the emergency response team in Vancouver, and they base all their scenarios on zero casualties.

    The military is not that way. A regimental sergeant major during an infantry attack organizes a casualty collection point, because we know we're going to sustain casualties. It's part of the job. It comes with the territory. We accept that reality willingly, and go forth willingly. But part of that unlimited liability is the government's end of it: that we will take care of you when you get home.

    We have prided ourselves as a nation on not having homeless veterans. We now have them. This is happening right now. We are seeing suicides right now as a result of this legislation—men and women who are penniless as a result of this.

    We have veterans who have invested their lump sums, as they've been told to do. Let the free market dictate. You can invest your lump sum. You'll make more money. You'll be better off than if you had a pension.

    The market crashed in 2008. Several of my friends had their savings wiped out.

    These are veterans without legs, legs that were lost in the service of Canada. These are people who are not going to be able to have any further benefit coming. Why? Well, they're able to work.

    In the old system, they would still receive their pension. In the new system, well, if you're able to work, we don't need to support you—never mind that you strap your leg to your body every morning when you get up.

    This is not the society that I signed on to protect and serve. We took care of people.

    When I was told by Veterans Affairs to go home, you're disabled, it gutted me. My life was turned upside down. I wasn't able to work, and that was something I prided myself on. I'd been working since I was 16 years old.

    People who join the military don't tend to be the type of people who want to sit and wait for a handout. And it's really mean-spirited to assume it is a handout. I mean, we're disabled. I'm not able to live my life to the fullest extent that I could have had I not served my country.

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    That's a trade I'd gladly make again. I'd gladly serve in the military again if I were physically capable of doing so. But the reality is that we've lost faith. We've lost hope now, as veterans. We're disillusioned.

    I get dozens of contacts through social media from people who are desperately seeking help, desperately wanting to know how the lawsuit is going, desperately wanting to know if there will be any change in the lump sum.

    A friend of mine attempted suicide a few weeks ago. He has two young sons. He had done the math. He has PTSD, mind you. He can't work, he's not trainable. He has a debilitating mental illness. His lump sum was given to him at the height of his mental illness. Luckily his wife convinced him to buy a house. They still have a small mortgage, and he decided that his survivor's benefit to his wife, should he take his own life, would make more financial sense than if he were to remain alive. So he attempted to take his own life. Luckily the RCMP interceded, and he's still with us. Others have not been so lucky. This is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a rare case.

    I can't put into words the feeling of betrayal, and how gutted I was when I was told the circumstances of the new Veterans Charter. When I was told that I was permanently disabled, yet my support was going to be a one-time payout so that government could walk away, it destroyed me. My mental state, which was already fragile, completely disintegrated, and I had no hope.

    I ended up in treatment for alcohol and for post-traumatic stress disorder in 2011.

    There are a lot of different scenarios that go into suicide and addiction and mental illness. There's only one that government can control, and that's the financial support that veterans receive. That falls to the men and women in this room, to make recommendations.

    There's a common argument about the lump sum versus the monthly pension. People will say that a soldier who's addicted can go out and drink his monthly pension every month. That's true. However, every month that's going to come in, and those are months that he will remain alive. He will go for the next month, further and further and further.

    The lump sum marks a finality to it, and when that's gone—and with the amounts that we are compensated, it's gone very quickly, inside of a year to three—hope is gone. Men and women are on the streets as a result of this legislation, they're penniless.

    I had to make a decision between rehab, eating a pistol, or being homeless. Those were the choices that fell to me in 2011. I chose rehab. Spin the bottle, pick one of the three—two aren't good. I almost died because of this legislation.

    It's not acceptable. It's not acceptable for Canadians. It's not acceptable for Canadian veterans. They deserve better. They are absolutely vulnerable as a result of their service to this country, and we are here to move forward with getting them the benefits they so richly deserve.

    What do we need? We need hope. We, who are now wounded, have lost a part of ourselves and we've lost it willingly and without complaint for our country. There is not a veteran I've met who wouldn't join again tomorrow. These are proud Canadians, people who would willingly fight for their country again.

    We've had faith that the government would take care of us and would honour their agreement. There is a whole host of programs under the new Veterans Charter, but the most important one is the disability allowance, and that's what's been slashed markedly under the new Veterans Charter.

    Our monthly disability pension, that cheque that gives us hope as much as it gives money, had dignity to it. It meant that we could be somewhat self-supporting, it could make up in some small measure for our earning gap from what we could have made before, and we were comfortable in the knowledge that we were connected to the population of the country. The people who paid their taxes gave us a pension every month to say, “Hey, thank you for giving up your body parts or your sanity for our way of life.”

    The war in Afghanistan has been going on for 12 years. There hasn't been any gasoline rationing or rationing of meat, or scrap metal drives or rubber drives like during the Second World War. The general population is completely disconnected to the fact that we are at war. But make no mistake, we have been at war.

    In closing, I'd like to draw strength from the Legion's position during the 1951 pension debate, at which time the government was trying to prevent the raising of pensions to match the living wage.

  + -(1135) 

    The basic principle of pension legislation since the First World War has been that a war disability pension is compensation paid by the state for injuries suffered while on active service and assessed on an equitable basis for the same degree of injury, regardless of a man's civilian occupation or earning capacity. No subsequent training or earnings could affect a pension, once granted.

    We need hope back. If we have hope, we can save lives. People can live better and it's a relatively simple fix.

    I think I'd be of more value at this point taking questions, and I thank you for your time.

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The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer):
    Mr. Berry, we can't thank you enough.

    We thank all three of you gentlemen very much for your invaluable testimony for us today.

    We'll now move on to questions, and the questions can be directed to every single person on the panel, if you wish.

    You may want to put in your earpiece for French interpretation.

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Hon. Jim Karygiannis:
    Chair.

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The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer):
    Mr. Karygiannis, this is just a reminder, sir, that if you wish to have a point of order, you should say “point of order”. For the record, it would be helpful.

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Hon. Jim Karygiannis:
    Okay. I was just wondering, and seeking unanimous consent from all my colleagues, if we can give Aaron Bedard and Glen Kirkland two or three minutes apiece before we start questioning, if that's okay with the rest of the committee.

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The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer):
    I'm in the hands of the committee.

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Hon. Jim Karygiannis:
    These veterans certainly deserve that. It's the least we can do for them.

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The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer):
    Mr. Karygiannis, I understand that they will also have an opportunity to respond to our questions in that regard.

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Hon. Jim Karygiannis:
    Will you ask again?

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The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer):
    I know I'll be asking my own questions of the two gentlemen.

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Hon. Jim Karygiannis:
    Can we ask for unanimous consent, Mr. Chair?

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The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer):
    I will. I'm always up in front of the committee, and it's up to the committee.

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Mr. Parm Gill (Brampton—Springdale, CPC):
    Mr. Chair, can we limit it to no more than a couple of minutes, because we are running out of time, and I'm sure all the members have questions they would like to ask?

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The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer):
    Okay. Unanimous consent is granted.

    Mr. Kirkland, please go right ahead for a few minutes.

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Mr. Glen Kirkland (Equitas Society Veterans Council):
    I just wanted to—

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The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer):
    Could you introduce yourself and say where you're from?

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Mr. Glen Kirkland:
    My name is Glen Kirkland. I was born and raised in Langley, B.C., but I reside in Brandon, Manitoba.

    I try to bring up one point every chance I get. It's who's our next generation of soldiers. If this generation is not being looked after, who's going to carry that torch? I'm a fifth-generation Canadian soldier, dating back to before Canada was a country. I served proudly and with honours, and so did every generation. There's no way that, if I have the opportunity to have children, they would be serving in the Canadian military, unless there's something drastically changed with ill and injured soldiers. The suicide rate right now is unbelievable.

    I have a quick little story, and I won't take very much time. I'm a real estate agent now, and I sold a house to a gentleman named William Elliott. There was some disclosure that, in the house he bought, the gentleman killed himself in the house—this is in Shilo.

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Mr. Parm Gill:
    I have a point of order.

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The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer):
    Mr. Gill, point of order, sir.

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Mr. Parm Gill:
    Mr. Chair, I'm not sure if we have a member of the opposition videotaping or taking pictures, which obviously is against the rules of committee, and I would like to ask you, Mr. Chair, to please make a ruling on that.

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The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer):
    Because we are not televised, if any member of the committee is taking what I call photo journal representations of this, I would ask that individual to cease immediately, please. Thank you.

    Please, Mr. Kirkland, carry on.

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Mr. Glen Kirkland:
    During the disclosure at the sale of the house, I had to explain to William Elliott that the previous person, who was military-based, killed himself in that house. This is killing me, but.... Just a few days ago, William Elliott killed himself in that same house. These are not isolated situations. These guys are not getting the support. It's very clear. There has to be something done.

    That's all I have to say.

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The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer):
    Mr. Kirkland, thank you very much for that.

    Sir, would you introduce yourself and say where you're from?

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Mr. Aaron Bedard (Equitas Society Veterans Council):
     I'm from Vancouver, British Columbia. My name is Aaron Michael Bedard. I was a combat engineer in the Canadian Forces. I served on Task Force 106. I was outside where Charlie Alpha Bravo companies in the QRF served in Sangin and all that good stuff.

    In the summer of 2006, being in constant combat and around colleagues who were dying almost every single day, it was something that's not like suicide but quite similar. You were prepared to die and were accepting it every morning. “Is it my turn yet”, because every day someone was getting hit and killed. It's a road that you can't come back from and I deal with suicide every day.

    I have a new wife and a nine-month old and it's something that still pops into my mind every day. And I'm worried that if things take forever to get fixed with this, it's just going to get worse with suicides. It stabs me in the heart every time I see one. We've got an anniversary of Vimy coming up and an anniversary of the armistice, and I hope and I pray that we get it all sorted out before then, because it's going to be pretty hard to celebrate those events if this isn't fixed.

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The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer):
    Sir, I thank you very much for that. Again on behalf of the committee, congratulations on your recent nuptials as well. Very good.

    We'll now start off for questioning. You may wish to put in your earpiece, please.

    Mr. Sylvain Chicoine, for five minutes, please. Thank you.

[Translation]
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Mr. Sylvain Chicoine (Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, NDP):
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    I want to thank all the witnesses for being here today. I also want to thank them for their service to the country, the sacrifices they have made and their efforts to ensure that veterans are treated fairly.

    Everyone agrees that it is totally unacceptable for an injured soldier not to get the same level of compensation as any other worker. I think that is unacceptable and that your efforts to correct this situation are laudable.

    As far as your case is concerned, the government admitted that there was a social covenant between the Crown and Canadian Armed Forces members, and felt that this covenant had been honoured.

    In your view, in what sense has the Government of Canada failed to live up to this covenant and how could the New Veterans Charter be amended to ensure that this social covenant is honoured to your full satisfaction?

[English]
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Mr. Donald Sorochan:
    I take the positions of lawyers with the usual grain of salt. The government lawyer's position, which has not been reflected in statements of government ministers or others, was that they are respecting the social covenant by the existing legislation.

    Now that's a position that a lawyer takes because he's given marching orders. I don't even know that he believes it. But the position was that, yes, there is a social covenant, but we're honouring it with the existing legislation. If we go to trial, we think we'll be able to show that this is not the case.

[Translation]
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Mr. Sylvain Chicoine:
    Thank you.

    You mentioned in your complaint that during enlistment, the recruiter talks about the compensation provided to injured soldiers. However, under the Pension Act, if someone enlisted in 2002 and was injured in 2008 he will not be covered by the Act but will be entitled to the compensation provided for in the New Veterans Charter. That sounds a bit like a breach of contract to me.

    Don't you think that access to programs under the New Veterans Charter should have been based on the date of enlistment and not on the date that the person was injured?

[English]
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Mr. Jim Scott:
    That's a very good question and normally there's a grandfathering clause for most contracts when you make a fundamental change—and that's reflected in the report that we've submitted to you. In this particular case, you have people enrolling and signing to one set of circumstances and then having that set of circumstances change in the mid-contract period with no grandfathering provisions. That's very different from what you would see in most changes. For instance, when you make pension acts and so on for a workforce, the people who have them previously get to retain them and it's from that date forward that people are told and get the new benefits. So we were very surprised that this change went into effect and there were no grandfathering provisions.

[Translation]
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Mr. Sylvain Chicoine:
    Thank you.

    The government is saying that it recognizes that duty and that it is included in the new charter.

    Can you comment on that?

[English]
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Mr. Jim Scott:
    Sorry, when you say “duty,” which duty are you referring to?

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The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer):
    Mr. Chicoine, can you repeat the question, please.

[Translation]
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Mr. Sylvain Chicoine:
    Yes. I am talking about the government's sacred duty to take care of wounded veterans.

[English]
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Mr. Donald Sorochan:
    As I said, this was on a motion to dismiss, and nothing has been decided other than that the case can continue. The argument was that the new Veterans Charter fulfills the social covenant. That's the legal position that was taken by that lawyer at that time.

    One of the premises of our case is that this is not true. We'll be able to call evidence showing what the effects are and how it differs from what had gone on, just as we've heard here today.

    I was looking for a battle that took place between the new Veterans Charter and the old. Theoretically, one bullet could have been fired and you'd be compensated under the Pension Act, and the next bullet out of the machine gun would be under the new Veterans Charter. We weren't able to schedule such a battle, but theoretically that could have happened. You could have had people right in the middle of the same battle with different bullets hitting them and they would have been treated markedly differently. Theoretically. I never did find that battle.

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The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer):
    Thank you, sir. Thank you, Mr. Chicoine.

    We now move on to the Parliamentary Secretary for Veterans Affairs Canada, Mr. Gill.

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Update on Appeal of the Scott et al. Proposed Class Action
« Reply #49 on: January 13, 2014, 08:54:00 PM »
Update on Appeal of the Scott et al. Proposed Class Action

January 3, 2014 Department of Veterans Affairs

Ottawa – The following was issued today in light of the routine filing of the Government’s legal factum, the latest stage in the ongoing Scott et al. v. Attorney General of Canada proposed class action:

On October 2, 2013, the Government of Canada appealed the Honourable Mr. Justice Gordon Weatherill’s ruling on the Attorney General of Canada’s Application to Strike the Notice of Civil Claim filed by the Plaintiffs’ counsel in the Scott et al. v. Attorney General of Canada proposed class action.

On September 26, 2013, after reviewing recent reports from the Veterans Ombudsman and following several weeks of extensive consultation with stakeholders, Minister Fantino announced the Government’s support for a comprehensive review of the New Veterans Charter, including all enhancements, with a special focus placed on the most seriously injured, support for families and the delivery of programs by Veterans Affairs Canada. This review, which was called for by the Government, serves as a key vehicle to find responsible changes to improve the already robust systems of support in place to help Canada’s Veterans.

"The Parliamentary Committee remains the right forum for addressing changes to the New Veterans Charter," said the Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs. "This review, led by legislators who represent Canadians from across the country, is an inclusive, consultative collaboration on how best to make positive changes for Veterans and their families. We continue to focus on our common goal of best serving those who served Canada."

To date, Canada’s Veterans’ Ombudsman, Equitas representatives, the Minister of Veterans Affairs and technical experts from within and outside the Government of Canada have appeared. During his appearance, Minister Fantino asked parliamentarians to recommend language that could be added to the New Veterans Charter to define the duty and obligation that the Government of Canada has towards Veterans. The review will continue when Parliament resumes at the end of January.

Veterans Affairs Canada’s support and services offer the right care at the right time to achieve the best results for Veterans and their families. Find out more at veterans.gc.ca.