Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Disabled veterans deserve better 'treatment'

  • Print

Canadian troops have served with distinction in Afghanistan and other hot spots, and more than 2,000 have come home wounded in the past decade. Many were too badly injured to pick up their lives again. When they hit retirement age they shouldn't have to worry about putting bread on the table.

Yet for all its celebration of the military, and promises to give veterans "the very best treatment," Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government is coming up chronically short in honouring its obligations to the women and men we put in harm's way.

As the Star's Bruce Campion-Smith reports, Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent has just served grim notice in a new report that more than 400 of Canada's younger and "totally and permanently incapacitated" veterans who haven't served long enough to have military pensions will suffer a dramatic drop in income when they hit 65 and their benefits run out, and some face the very real risk of being plunged into outright poverty. Another 800 totally disabled vets face an "unclear" financial prospect at best on retirement. That shouldn't be. In addition, the compensation Ottawa pays for military pain and suffering falls short of what courts have handed out in civilian personal injury cases, the report finds.

Gary Walbourne, Parent's deputy, says the public would be "taken aback" to know how veterans are being shortchanged. That's probably an understatement. Many would be angry.

While Ottawa has been gradually improving compensation and benefits for veterans in the much-criticized New Veterans Charter that Harper launched in 2006, Parent concludes that it still has gaps that one could drive a Leopard tank through. After an analysis of the Byzantine rules that only an actuary could love, he reckons Ottawa is shortchanging veterans to the tune of $100 million over the years. Given Canada's $18-billion defence budget, veterans' needs ought to be met.

Parent makes a compelling case for improving Ottawa's payouts so that veterans continue to get the equivalent of 70 per cent of their military salary after age 65, saying it is a "well-recognized benchmark." He urges Ottawa to reconsider the stunningly obtuse rules that leave 53 per cent of permanently incapacitated vets who can't find work without the very allowance that is meant to help them. He urges the current maximum disability award be nudged up to $350,000 from just under $300,000 to better reflect awards to civilian workers who are hurt on the job. He wants transitional benefits increased to 90 per cent of a soldier's salary from 75 per cent, for those who are shifting from a military to a civilian career, including the reservists who made up such a large part of the Afghan deployment.

These are changes for which the Royal Canadian Legion has been lobbying for years. Defence Minister Julian Fantino has announced an extensive review of the veterans charter this fall, and calls the Parent report an "important starting point." But Ottawa has studied this issue to death. It's time to bite the bullet, and do right by those who have given so much.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 5, 2013 A17

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


NDP MLAs pitch their ‘Pledge of Solidarity’ in attempt to heal caucus

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Perfect Day- Paul Buteux walks  his dog Cassie Tuesday on the Sagimay Trail in Assiniboine Forest enjoying a almost perfect  fall day in Winnipeg- Standup photo – September 27, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A Great Horned Owl that was caught up in some soccer nets in Shamrock Park in Southdale on November 16th was rehabilitated and returned to the the city park behind Shamrock School and released this afternoon. Sequence of the release. December 4, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos


Should NDP MLAs sign the "pledge of solidarity"?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google