Justice for Canadian Veterans With Michael Blois - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers
  • Thursday, 28 April 2016

Justice for Canadian Veterans With Michael Blois

When a young person joins the Canadian Armed Forces they have signed an obligation that may require putting themselves into harm’s way. They do this knowingly, willingly, because they believe in the ideals of our nation and are prepared to defend them with their life. Regrettably, some will be severely injured in the line of duty, as we have saw in the recent conflict in Afghanistan. Soldiers agree to this obligation because they believe that in the event that they are injured that the Government, the same Government that sent them on their mission, would be there to support them. However, this is not the situation for current veterans. Veterans have had to learn that their willingness to sacrifice their life for our country is not reciprocated by the Government that they take orders from. Legislation was put in place, just prior to the combat mission in Afghanistan, which vastly changed how the Government of Canada, through Veterans Affairs Canada, would compensate injured soldiers and how they would support them upon the soldiers release from the Canadian Armed Forces.

In 2006 the Canadian Government enacted legislation to change the way that Veterans Affairs Canada would interact and treat “new veterans.” This change was brought about under the assumption that “New Veterans” have different needs then Veterans of past eras. The Legislation is known as “The New Veterans Charter” and replaced the Pension Act with regards to the sweet of benefits that are available to Veterans who are injured in the line of service.  The biggest difference between the two pieces of legislation is how they compensate injured soldiers, either through the one-time tax free lump sum disability award in the New Veterans Charter, or the Pension Act’s monthly tax-free pension with survivor benefit. Queens University completed a study which clearly demonstrates that the New Veterans Charter significantly disadvantages veterans when compared to the Pension Act. Unfortunately for Canadian Veterans this has forced them to take the Government of Canada to court to correct this injustice.

A class action law suit was brought in British Columbia in 2012, Scott et al v. Attorney General of Canada, with the goal of forcing the Canadian Government into action. This lawsuit turns on the duties the Crown owes to its veterans. Veterans argue that the Crown owes a fiduciary duty to its soldiers and that the New Veterans Charter, with its cavernous gaps in financial awards over the life of the injured veteran, go against that duty. The Crown argues that it owes no fiduciary duty to veterans and that imposing a fiduciary duty would have a broader impact that is not intended by veterans in this lawsuit. Clearly, this is a legal issue that is bound for the Supreme Court of Canada, which means years of legal battles between veterans and the Government of Canada.

Currently the law suit is on hold, with the court agreeing to without its determination of the certification of the class action until after the current Government tables its budget (the lawsuit was brought when the Conservative party was in power, and the Liberal Party made campaign promises that, if kept, would make the lawsuit unnecessary).

Veterans are not seeking to become wealthy through this lawsuit, nor are they seeking to override the will of the Government of Canada. What they seek is to be treated and compensated on the same level as every veteran from every era before them has.

Sources

  1. www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/new-veterans-charter-shortchanges-our-disabled-soldiers/article1213169/
  2. Scott v. Canada (Attorney General), 2013 BCSC 1651 (CanLII)

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