Veterans Affairs Canada

Veterans Affairs Canada

March 24, 2011 17:22 ET

"A New Chapter in the New Veterans Charter Receives Royal Assent" - The Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 24, 2011) - The Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture), celebrated final approval of Bill C-55 today. "It is an important breakthrough in how Canada cares for and supports injured and ill Canadian Forces (CF) members and Veterans," said Minister Blackburn.

Also known as the Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act, Bill C-55 received royal assent this afternoon.

"This legislation represents a significant new chapter in the financial aid available to CF members and Veterans who are injured in the line of duty," said Minister Blackburn. "We are providing an additional $2 billion to ensure a better quality of life for ill and injured Veterans and their families."

Minister Blackburn thanked Veterans and their organizations for their support which he qualified as essential in helping parliamentarians understand the importance of the measures contained in the legislation. He also praised members of Parliament and senators of all political allegiances for taking the time to review the Bill and ensuring its speedy passage through the two chambers.

"The broad support for this Bill reflects the great pride and admiration that all Canadians share for our men and women in uniform, our Veterans and their families," said Minister Blackburn. "Parliamentarians clearly understood the importance of making sure these enhancements quickly reach the men and women who have earned and deserve this kind of support from their country."

The legislation still has to go through a number of regulatory steps before coming into force, which should be completed within the next five or six months.

What Bill C-55 does:

Improved monthly benefits

  • The legislation expands eligibility for monthly allowances (worth up to $1,632 per month—for life) for seriously injured Veterans; and

  • It introduces an additional $1,000 monthly supplement to the Permanent Impairment Allowance (for life) to help our most seriously injured or ill Veterans who are unable to return to suitable gainful employment.

Also, by amending regulations for the Earnings Loss benefit, the Government will establish a minimum pre-tax income of $40,000 a year for Veterans who are in rehabilitation or, if they are no longer able to be gainfully employed, until age 65.

Flexible options for the Disability Award

  • The legislation creates new payment options for Canadian Forces members and Veterans receiving a disability award. While they will still have the choice of a lump-sum payment, they will also now be able to receive a 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 (with interest).

  • Veterans will also retain the right to change their payment option at any time. This includes choosing at a later date to receive the balance of their disability award in a final lump-sum payment.

"By offering more payment options for the Disability Award, the Government of Canada has recognized that CF members and Veterans need financial choices that meet their individual circumstances," said Minister Blackburn.

Backgrounder

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.

Contact Information

  • Veterans Affairs Canada
    Janice Summerby
    Media Relations Advisor
    613-992-7468
    or
    Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs
    Vincent Caron
    Special Assistant, Policy and Communications
    613-995-5786
    Cell: 613-240-9028