Federal Retirees Urges Government to Do the Right Thing for Canada's Veterans
March 13, 2015 -
The federal government announcement today that it will increase the Earnings Loss Benefit for part-time reservists was a welcome message for members of the National Association of Federal Retirees, although much still remains to be done for Canada’s veterans, says the Association.
As of April 2015, part-time reservists will be eligible for the Earnings Loss Benefit on the same basis as full-time reservists. To date, part-time reservists have not been eligible for the same kinds of benefits as full-time or regular force reservists.
“This has been a major concern with the New Veterans Charter since 2006,” says Gary Oberg, President of the National Association of Federal Retirees. “All veterans who sustain similar illnesses or injuries while serving their country should have access to the same benefits, regardless of the nature of their service – and today’s announcement from Minister O’Toole is a step forward on that.”
This issue of equality was identified by veterans groups, the Veterans Ombudsman, the New Veterans Charter Advisory Group, and two House of Commons reports as one of the most pressing issues facing veterans and their families today. In September 2014, the National Association of Federal Retirees raised this issue with the parliamentary finance committee as a budget priority for veterans.
The Earnings Loss Benefit is available to veterans who are injured in service of Canada and lose income as a result, and who also participate in a Veterans Affairs rehabilitation program or who are unable to be suitably employed. Currently, the Earnings Loss Benefit for part-time reserve force veterans totals $24,300 annually. Full-time reservists are guaranteed a minimum $42,426 in pre-tax income for as long as they are in a Veterans Affairs rehabilitation program or if they are unable to work to full capacity.
“What remains to be seen is how this improvement will be implemented, and whether all of the veterans and families who need this support receive it,” noted Oberg. “In today’s announcement, Minister O’Toole said that no one will be left out – the National Association of Federal Retirees intends to ensure the Government of Canada honours that promise.”
A number of other deficiencies remain with the New Veterans Charter, such as a need to increase the Disability Award and improve access to the Permanent Impairment Allowance and its Supplement to ensure that the most seriously ill and injured veterans have the economic and financial support they need to compensate for their loss of employment and career opportunities.
The National Association of Federal Retirees believes that Minister O’Toole’s announcement is a step in the right direction, but that more substantive changes are urgently needed to support Canada’s veterans and their families who have been injured in service to their country.
The National Association of Federal Retirees is the largest national advocacy organization representing active and retired members of the federal public service, Canadian Armed Forces, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and retired federally-appointed judges, as well as their partners and survivors. With 185,000 members including more than 60,000 veterans and their families, the Association has a 50-year history of providing independent advocacy on issues affecting the financial security and health and well-being of our members and Canadians.