Veterans Affairs Canada

Veterans Affairs Canada

December 22, 2010 12:41 ET

Minister Blackburn Announces Important Changes to Agent Orange Ex Gratia Payment

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 22, 2010) - The Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture), announced today, in company of the Honourable Keith Ashfield, Minister of National Revenue, Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway, that the Government of Canada is extending the time that individuals have to submit an application for the Agent Orange ex gratia payment. Certain eligibility criteria have also been modified. 

"Today, I am announcing that our government has extended the deadline to June 2011 and widened eligibility criteria. We estimate that these changes will allow approximately 1,140 people to receive the ex gratia payment, for a total of approximately $24 million dollars. The Department will be communicating shortly with individuals whose applications were previously declined in order to see if they meet the new criteria. I am proud to be part of a government that proves once again that it takes action and shows compassion," said Minister Blackburn.

As a result of today's announcement, the deadline for submitting an application is extended to June 30, 2011. People will also have until June 30, 2011 to obtain a relevant medical diagnosis. They will no longer have to prove that they were expecting their medical diagnosis before February 6, 2006. Furthermore, the requirement for applicants to have been alive on February 6, 2006 has been removed. This will allow more primary caregivers, including widows and widowers, to apply on behalf of a loved one who died before the ex gratia payment came into place.

"Today's announcement of additional government assistance to Veterans and families living in communities closest to CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick is a welcome continuation to the previous commitment made by this government," said Minister Ashfield. "It demonstrates our continued support to Veterans and their families in this province. I am so pleased to see the Government make good on the commitment made to all New Brunswickers to address longstanding concerns related to the testing of Agent Orange at CFB Gagetown."

In September 2007, the Government of Canada announced a one-time, tax-free ex gratia payment of $20,000 related to the testing of unregistered U.S. military herbicides, including Agent Orange, at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in New Brunswick during the summers of 1966 and 1967.

While the best research available has confirmed there were no harmful long-term effects from the testing of Agent Orange, the Government of Canada acted with compassion by offering an ex gratia payment. This recognizes the uncertainty many individuals have lived with over the years.

"On behalf of the Agent Orange Association of Canada Inc., I would like to take this opportunity to thank Minister Blackburn and his government for extending and changing the Agent Orange ex gratia program. I believe that we are moving in the right direction in supporting our Veterans and civilians who were exposed to Agent Orange and other toxic herbicides at CFB Base Gagetown but we also must continue to work together," said Carol Brown Parker, Co-President Agent Orange Association of Canada Inc.

To qualify for the ex gratia payment, individuals must be diagnosed with a medical condition listed in the U.S. National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine Update 2004. They must have worked at, trained at, been posted to, or lived within five kilometres of CFB Gagetown when Agent Orange was tested in 1966 and 1967.

To date, a total of 3,137 applicants have received the tax-free, ex gratia payment, for a total payout of $62.7 million. An additional sum of 7.7 million dollars was used to communicate information about this program to the general population, to hire personnel to deal with the applications and to open an office in Oromocto. 

For more information, visit the Veterans Affairs Canada Web site at www.vac-acc.gc.ca or call 1-866-522-2122.

Backgrounder

Extension of the Agent Orange Ex Gratia Payment

The Government of Canada is extending the Agent Orange ex gratia payment. With this extension, individuals will have until June 30, 2011, to obtain a relevant medical diagnosis and to submit an application. An applicant will no longer have to prove that a medical diagnosis was in progress before February 6, 2006. In addition, the requirement for an eligible individual to be alive on February 6, 2006, has been removed, allowing more primary caregivers to apply on behalf of a loved one who died before the ex gratia payment came into place.

These changes are in keeping with the Government's 2007 decision to provide an ex gratia payment as a compassionate response to Canadians due to the longstanding uncertainties related to the testing of Agent Orange at CFB Gagetown more than four decades ago.

Veterans Affairs Canada's authority to issue payments expired on October 1, 2010. To date, a total of 3,137 applicants have received the tax-free, ex gratia payment, for a total payout of $62.7 million. An additional sum of 7.7 million dollars was used to communicate information about this program to the general population, to hire personnel to deal with the applications and to open an office in Oromocto, New-Brunswick.

The new measures could result in approximately 1,140 new recipients at a payout of up to $24 million.

Veterans Affairs Canada will be contacting all of the individuals who had previously applied for the ex gratia payment but were declined, to discuss their possible eligibility under these new measures. 

This one-time, tax-free ex gratia payment of $20,000 is related to the testing of unregistered U.S. military herbicides, including Agent Orange, at CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick during the summers of 1966 and 1967. While the best research available has confirmed there were no harmful long-term effects from the testing of Agent Orange, the Government of Canada acted with compassion by offering an ex gratia payment to recognize the uncertainty many individuals have lived with over the years due to the testing of Agent Orange.

Eligibility

To qualify for the ex gratia payment, individuals must meet the following conditions:

(a) Between June 1, 1966, and June 30, 2011, the individual must be diagnosed with any one or more of the following medical conditions listed in the Institute of Medicine's Update 2004:

  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)

  • Soft tissue sarcoma

  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

  • Hodgkin's disease

  • Chloracne

  • Respiratory cancer (of the lung/bronchus, larynx or trachea)

  • Prostate cancer

  • Multiple myeloma

  • Acute and subacute transcient peripheral neuropathy

  • Porphyria cutanea tarda

  • Type 2 diabetes (mellitus)

  • Spina bifida (as described in (b)).

(b) At any time from June to September of either 1966 or 1967 the individual or, in the case of an individual diagnosed with spina bifida, a biological parent of the individual must have:

  • worked or lived at CFB Gagetown;

  • been posted to or trained at CFB Gagetown; or

  • resided in a community of which any portion laid within five kilometres of the perimeter of CFB Gagetown.

Individuals may apply on their own behalf, or as the primary caregiver of a loved one who died before the ex gratia payment came into place. If you are applying both on your own behalf and as a primary caregiver, you must submit two separate application forms.

For more information or to apply, visit the Veterans Affairs Canada Web site at www.vac-acc.gc.ca or call 1-866-522-2122.

Contact Information

  • Media inquiries:
    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
    or
    Any other inquiries:
    information@vac-acc.gc.ca