Veterans Affairs Canada

Veterans Affairs Canada

November 17, 2010 15:55 ET

Government of Canada Introduces Legislation to Improve Financial Aid for Canadian Forces Personnel and Veterans

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 17, 2010) - Today, the Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture), tabled changes to the New Veterans Charter to significantly improve financial support for injured Canadian Forces members and Veterans. 

"In tabling these legislative changes today, we are writing a new chapter to the New Veterans Charter. These changes, totaling two billion dollars, will greatly improve the quality of life of our Veterans. Our government is determined to see that our Veterans and their families receive all the care, the services and the financial support they need and deserve," said Minister Blackburn. 

Improved monthly benefits

First, by amending regulations, the government will establish a minimum pre-tax income of $40,000 a year for Veterans who can no longer work and for those who are in rehabilitation.

The Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act, introduced in the House of Commons today, increases monthly financial support for injured Veterans who are no longer able to work. If passed, this Act will:

  • expand eligibility for monthly allowances for seriously injured Veterans (up to $1,609 per month, for life).
  • introduce an additional $1,000 monthly supplement to help our most seriously injured or ill Veterans. 

Flexible options for the Disability Award

Create new options for Canadian Forces members and Veterans who would prefer to receive the existing lump sum Disability Award as either an annual payment over any number of years or as a combination of a partial lump-sum payment and annual instalments.

"We have heard the concerns of Veterans and their families about the challenges of managing a large sum of money. They will now be able to spread their payment out over a number of years of their choice. As well, it is important to remember that the lump sum does not replace the monthly disability pension. The lump sum is an immediate recognition of suffering and pain that is added to the financial benefits mentioned above and other services available under the New Veterans Charter. If the legislation is adopted, on top of the lump sum Disability Award, our most seriously injured Veterans who are no longer able to work will receive at least $58,000 per year," added Minister Blackburn.

With today's announcement, Veterans who receive a Disability Award will have the choice between:

  • annual payments spread out over the number of years of their choice (with interest);
  • part of the award as a lump sum and the rest as annual payments over the number of years of their choice (with interest); or
  • a single lump sum payment.

Furthermore, at any time, Veterans who so choose may change their minds and receive the remaining amount as a lump-sum payment.

Dominion President, Mrs. Patricia Varga, of The Royal Canadian Legion stated, "This Bill, as a first step, makes great strides in improving the New Veterans Charter and encompasses many of the recommendations made by the New Veterans Charter Advisory Group and the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. The Legion considers that further improvements are needed to the Charter on which we look forward to continue the ongoing dialogue with Minister Blackburn."

"With this Bill, we applaud the Government for keeping its promise that the New Veterans Charter is truly a living document," said Ray Kokkonen, President of the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association. "Naturally, we are pleased to have had a role in this matter and that our advice and recommendations have been heard. Advocating for significantly increasing the financial support to our severely wounded Veterans, to allow them live with dignity, is a top priority for our organization. Accordingly, we are very glad to see this challenging issue being addressed. We will continue cooperating closely with Minister Blackburn on other matters related to the Charter to ensure that the ongoing and emerging needs of our Veterans and their families are met."

Backgrounder

Additional Details on the Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act

Today, the Government of Canada tabled legislation to enact significant improvements to the financial support available to injured Canadian Forces (CF) members and Veterans. If passed, the Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act will make changes to the New Veterans Charter to address concerns raised by Veterans, their families, Veterans' organizations, advisory groups and parliamentary committees.

This legislation would:

  • improve access to monthly benefits for seriously injured Veterans (up to $1,609 per month, for life);
  • introduce a monthly $1,000 supplement for life to help our most seriously injured or ill Veterans; and 
  • provide flexible options for receiving a Disability Award by choosing either a lump-sum payment, annual instalments over a number of years or a combination of both.

Improve access to the Permanent Impairment Allowance and the Exceptional Incapacity Allowance:

Often CF Veterans who are compensated for their injuries under the Pension Act later receive a new diagnosis. This new injury or illness is then compensated for under the Charter. Currently, there is a gap between the Pension Act and the New Veterans Charter that prevents Veterans from having all of their injuries considered for eligibility for the Permanent Impairment Allowance (PIA) or the Exceptional Incapacity Allowance (EIA). This leaves the Veteran unable to meet the criteria for accessing either the PIA or the EIA.

In this context, since the Charter was adopted, only 16 Veterans have been eligible for the PIA.

A Veteran may receive a 70% Disability Pension under the old system and a 30% Disability Award under the New Veterans Charter. Under the current rules, the Veteran is unable to access EIA because we cannot combine the 70% Disability Pension and the 30% Disability Award to meet the disability assessment threshold of 98–100% required to access the EIA. A different but equally important problem exists because today, if a Veteran's rehabilitation need is related to a pensioned condition (in this example, the condition assessed at 70%) he or she is also not eligible for the PIA. 

This change is expected to extend eligibility to as many as 3,500 more Veterans.

Introduce a monthly $1,000 supplement for permanently and severely injured Veterans:

Severely injured Veterans who are receiving the PIA and are unable to be gainfully employed will receive an additional $1,000 per month for the rest of their lives. This would be added to other financial supports they may receive, notably a minimum of $40,000 pre-tax per year as an Earnings Loss benefit. It is anticipated that approximately 500 Veterans will benefit from this change over the next five years. 

Provide payment options for the Disability Award:

The tax-free Disability Award is currently a one-time payment designed solely to recognize and compensate for the non-economic impact (the pain and loss) of an injury or illness. It is in addition to other financial supports (such as the monthly Earnings Loss benefit and the PIA) which recognize the ongoing economic impact of an injury. Under this proposed change to the New Veterans Charter, CF members and Veterans will have new options for receiving their Disability Award. These options are:

  • equal annual payments spread out over the number of years of their choice (with interest);
  • a partial lump-sum payment with the balance paid out in annual installments over any number of years (with interest); or
  • a single lump-sum payment.

Veterans who so choose will be able—at any time—to switch to a lump-sum payment to receive the balance owing to them. 

Introduce a minimum annual Earnings Loss benefit:

In addition to the legislated changes outlined above, the regulations which govern the New Veterans Charter will be amended to include a minimum annual, pre-tax income of $40,000 for recipients of the monthly Earnings Loss benefit. This enhancement should increase the monthly financial support available to approximately 2,300 Veterans over the next five years who either left the Canadian Forces while still at a low military rank or when military salaries were much lower than they are today.

Contact Information

  • Veterans Affairs Canada
    Janice Summerby
    Media Relations Advisor
    613-992-7468
    or
    Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs
    Sophie Doucet
    Director of Communications
    613-992-3465
    Cell.: 613-608-3252