Veterans Affairs Canada

Veterans Affairs Canada

October 01, 2011 14:58 ET

Minister of Veterans Affairs Steven Blaney Shares Daily Life of Members of the Canadian Forces

LES ÉBOULEMENTS, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Oct. 1, 2011) -

Editors' Note: A photo is associated with this press release.

The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, took part in a military training exercise in the Charlevoix area, organized by the infantry primary training audience of 35 Canadian Brigade Group.

Minister Blaney spent last night at the camp with members of the Canadian Forces. Today, he joined approximately 800 members of the Reserve Force in field operations, which included crossing the St. Lawrence River between Les Éboulements and Isle-aux-Coudres in military craft.

"It's an honour to have the opportunity to spend a day with members of the Canadian Forces to get a sense of their day-to-day life as they serve our country," said Minister Blaney. "This is a great opportunity to learn more about military culture and the needs of our men and women in uniform."

Through the New Veterans Charter, Veterans Affairs Canada offers a suite of programs which assist Veterans in transitioning smoothly to civilian life. Veterans Affairs Canada can provide support in finding appropriate employment, rehabilitation services, health care benefits, financial benefits and financial counselling.

"Our Government wants to ensure that reservists and all Canadian Forces members have access to all the services and benefits they need to successfully transition to civilian life," said Minister Blaney. "This is why we announced significant improvements to the New Veterans Charter. These changes will ensure that Canadian Forces members and their families have the help they need—when they need it and for as long as they need it."

To learn more about Veterans Affairs Canada's programs and services, visit veterans.gc.ca.

Backgrounder

New Veterans Charter Services and Benefits*

Case Management: A Veterans Affairs Canada case manager works with the Veteran to develop his or her personal "case plan" based on the individual's specific needs.

Rehabilitation Program: It helps disabled Veterans who need support to re-enter civilian life. It includes:

  • medical rehabilitation to stabilize physical and psychiatric conditions and restore basic function (e.g. physiotherapy, occupational therapy, psychiatric and addictions treatment);
  • psycho-social rehabilitation to restore independence and adapt to disability (e.g. pain and anger management, life skills for independent living); and
  • vocational rehabilitation to identify and achieve vocational goals (e.g. vocational counselling, help finding a job, possible support for training and other costs related to training such as child care). The survivor or spouse may qualify if the Canadian Forces member died or cannot benefit due to level of disability.

Financial Benefits:

  • Earnings Loss Benefit – A monthly benefit up to 75 percent of pre-release salary while taking part in the Rehabilitation Program or, if unable to work, until age 65. The Government recently passed legislation which will soon increase the benefit to a minimum annual pre-tax income of approximately $40,000. The survivor and orphans may qualify if the Veteran's death is related to service.
  • Permanent Impairment Allowance – A monthly benefit, payable for life, to compensate for lost job opportunities as a result of permanent and severe impairment (there are three payment levels: $543, $1,088 and $1,631). The Government has recently passed legislation to improve access to this benefit to ensure Veterans who are severely and permanently impaired will qualify. The legislation, which will come into force later this year, also increases the allowance by $1,000/month for severely injured Veterans receiving the allowance who are unable to return to suitable gainful employment. More than 3,500 additional Veterans are expected to be eligible for this allowance within the next five years, with 500 of these also eligible for the $1,000/month supplement.
  • Supplementary Retirement Benefit – A one-time, lump-sum benefit for those totally and permanently incapacitated, that compensates for the lost opportunity to contribute to a retirement fund. It totals 2 percent of the gross Earnings Loss Benefit payable. Survivors may also be eligible if a Veteran's death is related to service.
  • Canadian Forces Income Support (CFIS) – A monthly tax-free benefit for those who completed the Rehabilitation Program and are able to work but have either been unable to find a job or have a low-paying job. Also available to those receiving the Earnings Loss Benefit when their eligibility ends at age 65, if they are low income. (Maximum monthly income levels: single Veteran, $1,277; Veteran with a spouse/partner, $1,943; each dependent child, $309; survivor, $1,277; orphan, $664).

Disability Award: A tax-free, lump-sum payment which provides immediate financial help in recognition of pain and suffering. The maximum award is $285,319 (2011 rate.) The amount of the award depends on the extent of the disability. Examples:

  • 5% disability (mild hearing loss) – $14,265
  • 40% disability (10% hearing loss and 30% lumbar disc disease) – $114,127
  • 60% disability (post-traumatic stress disorder) – $171,191
  • 100% disability (complete loss of function of lower limbs; confined to wheelchair) – $285,319

The Government recently passed legislation which will soon allow recipients to receive the Disability Award as a lump sum, as an annual instalment over any number of years of their choosing, or as a combination of these two payment options.

Financial Counselling: An amount up to $500 for those receiving a lump-sum payment of 5% or more ($14,265).

Health Benefits Program: Access to the Public Service Health Care Plan for Veterans and families who would not otherwise qualify for benefits after they release. The program includes items such as prescription drugs and vision care.

Death Benefit: Tax-free, lump-sum payment paid to a spouse or common-law partner, and dependent children, if a Canadian Forces member is killed in service; or injured while in service and dies within 30 days of the injury ($285,319).

Clothing Allowance: For Canadian Forces members or Veterans who receive a disability award due to an amputation or another disability that causes wear and tear on clothing; or a disability that requires specially made clothing (ranges from $20 to $185 per month depending on the level of need).

Family Support: Families may benefit from family coverage under the Public Service Health Care Plan, individual or family counselling, rehabilitation services, financial benefits, case management and educational grants up to $6,700/year for surviving children.

Career Transition Services: Canadian Forces members and Veterans (Regular Force and certain Reservists) who do not have a disability can receive practical help to find civilian employment through workshops, individual career counselling and job-finding assistance.

Detention Benefit: Tax-free, lump-sum payment for Canadian Forces members or Veterans detained for a minimum of 30 days.

Additional Details on the Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act

Royal Assent has been granted for legislation to enact significant improvements to the financial support available to injured Canadian Forces (CF) members and Veterans. Bill C-55, which is formally known as the Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act, makes changes to the New Veterans Charter to address concerns raised by Veterans, their families, Veterans' organizations, advisory groups and parliamentary committees.

This legislation:

  • improves access to monthly benefits (worth up to $1,632 per month, and payable for life) for seriously injured Veterans;
  • introduces a monthly $1,000 supplement to the Permanent Impairment Allowance-payable for life-to help our most seriously injured or ill Veterans who are unable to be suitably, gainfully employed; and
  • provides flexible payment options for receiving a Disability Award.

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

When the New Veterans Charter was implemented in 2006, it resulted in some unforeseen gaps between the new charter and the Pension Act, which had previously served all Veterans. As a result, a number of severely injured Veterans found themselves ineligible for either the new Permanent Impairment Allowance under the New Veterans Charter or the Exceptional Incapacity Allowance under the Pension Act.

By correcting these eligibility barriers between the two systems, it is expected that as many as 3,500 Veterans will now qualify for either the Permanent Impairment Allowance or the Exceptional Incapacity Allowance over the next five years.

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

Severely injured Veterans who are receiving the PIA and are unable to be suitably, 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, such as the minimum, pre-tax income of $40,000 a year available through the Earnings Loss benefit. It is anticipated that approximately 500 Veterans will benefit from this change over the next five years.

Providing 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 suffering) 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 change to the New Veterans Charter, CF members and Veterans will have new payment 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 will also have the option-at any time-to receive the balance of their Disability Award in a final lump-sum payment.

Introducing a minimum annual Earnings Loss benefit:

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

*These are specific to the NVC. There are also a range of other associated services and benefits such as mental health supports, treatment benefits and access to the Veterans Independence Program.

The photo associated with this press release is available at the following address: http://www.marketwire.com/library/20111001-veteran800.jpg

Contact Information

  • Media Inquiries:
    Janice Summerby
    Media Relations Advisor
    Veterans Affairs Canada
    613-992-7468

    Codie Taylor
    Director of Communications
    Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs
    613-996-4649

    Jean-Pierre J. Godbout
    Communications Advisor, Quebec Region
    Veterans Affairs Canada
    514-283-2198
    Cell: 514-209-1622