Precarious optimism for veterans

Page 1 of 2 1, 2  Next

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Sean Bruyea's latest

Post by Guest on Sun 03 Apr 2016, 13:41

Precarious optimism for veterans
This government has a chance to fix a small part of this and receive the praise of approximately 5,000 totally disabled and incapacitated veterans as well as thousands to follow. Incrementalism is demeaning for veterans who never hesitated to fulfill their obligation to Canada at a moment’s notice while in uniform.

Cautious optimism has infected veterans and Canadians alike hoping that injured veterans’ lives will be made better under the current Liberal government. Even with the usual bureaucratic shenanigans underway, the budget announcements, if done right, justify limited hope.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s mandate letter to Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr contains 15 priorities, each containing one or more promises. Of these, some are conceptual feel-good, but hard-to-measure pledges such as “Deliver a higher standard of service and care, and ensure that a ‘one veteran, one standard’ approach is upheld.” Like most rhetoric around veterans, “one service, one standard” is not clearly defined and therefore has differing meanings depending on the audience.
Three priorities promise increased staff, reopening nine much-needed offices and “two new centres of excellence of veterans’ care.” Veterans Affairs attributing “excellence” to its level of care has been more about baseless self-promotion than substance.  
Along with the reopened offices, the priorities that have been most anticipated and which will measurably improve injured veterans’ lives are those enhancements to financial programs for the injured.

However, the 2016 budget included only five of the 10 mandate promises which will affect the economic status of injured veterans. The most controversial of these commits to increase the lump sum paid for pain and suffering, bringing the maximum payable from the current $310,000 to $360,000 in 2017. This amount is more reflective of what Canadian courts pay for pain and suffering. It may look like a significant amount but we must remember that as of March 31 last year, only 271 CF veterans have received the maximum amount out of 50,000 or so recipients. The average award has been $40,000 over the last 10 years.
The real act of compassion in this measure is making the increase retroactive to all of the approximately 63,000 veterans who will have received the award by 2017. Retroactive payments are precisely what the U.K. did a few years back. Mind you, their award maxes out at £570,000 or CDN $1.06-million.
The budget makes no mention of similarly increasing the death benefit for the 440 survivors who are estimated to have received the award by the end of March this year. It is essential that increases recognize compensation for their loss.

There is also no mention of improving the well-being of those veterans, survivors, and orphans on the monthly disability pension, the much-lauded predecessor to the lump sum. Disability pensions have lagged behind both military and average Canadian salaries for decades. In 1952, a married veteran with three children receiving the maximum pension was paid $2,544 annually, higher than a married sergeant in the CF who received just over $19,00 annually. Considering this was a tax-free pension, it equated to more than the average Canadian salary of $2,815 or even a married lieutenant’s salary of $3,000 annually.
Today, the disability pension is shamefully pegged to the lowest unskilled labour category in the federal public service. A married veteran with two children receiving the maximum is paid $48,000 annually compared to a current sergeant’s salary of $65,000 and a median Canadian family income of $76,000 in 2013.
There are a lot of numbers here. Their complexity along with understanding the programs themselves has long allowed government to sidestep real debate on the issues. This is particularly true when dealing with the overlapping and confusing additional allowances received by veterans. For example, the mandate letter promised to expand access to what is known as the “permanent impairment allowance.” The budget merely promises to change the name of the allowance to “career impact allowance.” There is no pledge to expand access nor is there any indication the monthly $1,089 supplement will be included in the new allowance.

Adding to the inequity and confusion, veterans under the monthly pension scheme have been shut out completely from receiving this much-needed monthly supplement. These veterans have very limited access to an “exceptional incapacity allowance” and an “attendance allowance” but none of these compensate for loss of career.
The way to make this right is to have the three allowances, including the career impact allowance with a supplement, available and accessible to all injured veterans according to their needs and losses. This is not uncharted territory: many provincial workers’ compensation schemes provide similar benefits. Don’t wounded veterans deserve at least this minimum standard?
The final big ticket item is raising the amount paid for loss of income. This commitment raises the most questions and contains numerous pitfalls that could humiliate and/or alienate as many veterans as it helps.
Currently, CF members medically released from the Forces or those with a military injury can receive rehabilitation training. During the training period, which typically lasts two years, CF veterans can receive up to 75 per cent of their military salary at time of release minus all other income. Furthermore, those veterans who are so incapacitated as to be unemployable can receive the 75 per cent up until age 65.

The 2016 budget promises to raise this earnings loss benefit to 90 per cent. Annual increases were pegged to inflation to a maximum of two per cent. The cap will be removed. Canada recorded inflation higher than two per cent in eight of the last 15 years so this commitment raises hopes that can be quickly dashed.
Will the increases to CPI be applied to retroactive calculations? Those released from the military prior to 1992 have had their earnings loss dramatically eroded by the two per cent cap. In each of the years between 1976 and 1991, inflation ranged from a minimum of 3.9 per cent to a maximum of 12.5 per cent. It would be heartless to leave this cap in place for retroactive calculations. Seeing how the Bank of Canada has an inflation target rate of two per cent, removing the cap only prospectively would make this promise mostly meaningless.
As for the 90 per cent, this was a figure concocted by the Ombudsman’s office to seek a compromise with parsimonious bureaucrats. Initially the ombudsman, in a round of welcome consultations, tried to push an 85 per cent figure but resistance from stakeholders was justifiably fierce. Why? In 2009, a Veterans Affairs appointed advisory group was permitted to release its report, “The Living Charter in Action.” The banner recommendation for financial security in the groups’ report was to raise the earnings loss to 100 per cent of military salary. The rationale was sound. Maintaining income levels would maximize rehabilitation success while providing much dignity to those unable to work.

However, the 100 per cent income was just one part of a two-part assessment for financial security, which the group’s report insisted should be implemented together. For those who cannot be fully employed, these disabled veterans should receive “a fair, equitable income consistent with a normal military career.” This is not rocket science. Courts calculate probable earnings when making income loss awards and workers compensation schemes also include similar criteria to recognize lost career income.
There is no mention of using probable earnings in either the mandate letter or the 2016 budget.
What is mentioned is lowering the minimum payable from the equivalent of corporal to a senior private’s salary. This is callous at the very least. Sure, tightfisted bureaucrats can claim a financial victory by limiting payouts. Class A and B reservists as well as a large proportion of the most disabled are of lower rank and pegged to this minimum.
However, the 95 per cent of VAC bureaucrats who never served in the military don’t get it. Former rank is everything, especially when it determines one’s professional and financial worth in a frustrating world of disability. All that holds many disabled veterans together is pride in one’s rank. This is a demotion in a veterans’ purpose-giving status. One would think that Veterans Affairs deputy minister and former top general Walt Natynczyk would get this.
Will the Canadian Forces’ income loss insurance program upon which VAC’s earnings loss is based follow suit? Failure to do so would be mean-spirited.

There is another key issue of discrimination here. A corporal in 1996 earned just under $33,000 annually. Even fully adjusting for inflation, this equates to $46,000. However, corporals today earn $57,000 annually. The further back one’s release, the greater the discrepancies even adjusting for inflation. Military members have been underpaid for nearly fifty years when compared with civilian salaries. For those totally disabled, not only is their earnings loss based upon these artificially low salaries, but their retirement pension is pegged to these humiliating low income levels.
All CF veterans, not just the disabled, have been marginalized and the objects of discrimination and neglect for far too long. This government has a chance to fix a small part of this and receive the praise of approximately 5,000 totally disabled and incapacitated veterans as well as thousands to follow. Incrementalism is demeaning for veterans who never hesitated to fulfill their obligation to Canada at a moment’s notice while in uniform. Let us justify their hope with real change.

Sean Bruyea, vice-president of Canadians for Accountability, is a retired Air Force intelligence officer and frequent commentator on government, military, and veterans’ issues.

http://www.hilltimes.com/2016/04/04/precarious-optimism-for-veterans/55578

propat

.




Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: Precarious optimism for veterans

Post by Guest on Sun 03 Apr 2016, 13:54

Great post, Propat! I like this guys thinking. I'm hoping a copy of this was purolator to our new commander in chief! He needs to read this. A side note I read on Otooles facebook page that he thought raiseing the lump sum award was a poor idea! Poor idea for someone getting an mp wage, lol

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: Precarious optimism for veterans

Post by bigrex on Sun 03 Apr 2016, 13:57

As usual from Sean, a very good article. The only issue I have is his accusation that those receiving a PA pension are excluded from receiving the CIA. That was the case when the NVC was first enacted, but eligibility was expanded in 2011, I believe. Now it states

"Eligibility — veterans

   38 (1) The Minister may, on application, pay a permanent impairment allowance to a veteran who has one or more physical or mental health problems that are creating a permanent and severe impairment if the veteran, in respect of each of those health problems,

       (a) has had an application for rehabilitation services approved under this Part; and

       (b) has received a disability award under Part 3 or a pension for disability under the Pension Act, or would have received such an award or pension but has not because

           (i) the aggregate of all of the veteran’s disability assessments and deemed disability assessments exceeds 100%, or

           (ii) the disability award is not yet payable because, in the opinion of the Minister, the disability has not stabilized.

So, because of that mistake, the bureaucrats can completely discount the entire article, regardless of all of the other accurate statements, accusing him of being ill informed or misguided.
avatar
bigrex
CSAT Member

Number of posts : 3079
Location : Halifax, Nova Scotia
Registration date : 2008-09-18

Back to top Go down

Re: Precarious optimism for veterans

Post by Guest on Sun 03 Apr 2016, 14:12

But Big Rex most severe PA get the lowest EIA which once you have started to collect it you are forever excluded from collecting the CIA andCIAS.

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: Precarious optimism for veterans

Post by bigrex on Sun 03 Apr 2016, 14:52

Yes, I realize that, but he does not specify that only those who have been approved for EIA, are excluded.
avatar
bigrex
CSAT Member

Number of posts : 3079
Location : Halifax, Nova Scotia
Registration date : 2008-09-18

Back to top Go down

Re: Precarious optimism for veterans

Post by Guest on Sun 03 Apr 2016, 14:55

ya nav and bigrex I allway liked this guy and mike blaise as well im sure I spelled that wrong lol.

yup both do come at it from very different angles for sure but their messages are quite similar .

as for o'toole he has made himself irrelevant already at least in my eyes .

propat

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: Precarious optimism for veterans

Post by Guest on Sun 03 Apr 2016, 14:58

ohh right you are bigrex he didn't did he . missed that . normally something he would have done ultimately though forgivable .

propat

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: Precarious optimism for veterans

Post by bigrex on Sun 03 Apr 2016, 17:32

I agree it is forgivable, for us. My only worry is that, because of his history, the bureaucrats will use even the smallest misstep as reason to totally ignore his other legitimate observations.
avatar
bigrex
CSAT Member

Number of posts : 3079
Location : Halifax, Nova Scotia
Registration date : 2008-09-18

Back to top Go down

Re: Precarious optimism for veterans

Post by Dannypaj on Sun 03 Apr 2016, 18:38

You F ING dirty bastards that is all I can say and what comes around goes around
avatar
Dannypaj
CSAT Member

Number of posts : 1081
Age : 40
Location : Halifax
Registration date : 2015-01-29

Back to top Go down

Re: Precarious optimism for veterans

Post by Dannypaj on Sun 03 Apr 2016, 18:40

I am that low rank stuck at a poverty level because I was medically released as a private a, a one hooker, I know very well what I lost and I will never get it back. Bloods a Boiling eh!
avatar
Dannypaj
CSAT Member

Number of posts : 1081
Age : 40
Location : Halifax
Registration date : 2015-01-29

Back to top Go down

Re: Precarious optimism for veterans

Post by Dannypaj on Sun 03 Apr 2016, 18:43

That "Oh" tool better stop campaigning and stop wasting his money, he had his chance.
avatar
Dannypaj
CSAT Member

Number of posts : 1081
Age : 40
Location : Halifax
Registration date : 2015-01-29

Back to top Go down

Re: Precarious optimism for veterans

Post by Trooper on Sun 03 Apr 2016, 19:03

Changing the base CPL rate to the senior private rate is troubling to me , not that it affects me but there was no mention of this when they promised this in the election campaign nor was it mentioned in the mandate letter.

They changed this for a reason , and I highly doubt it was changed for the improvement of the promise.
avatar
Trooper
CSAT Member

Number of posts : 5276
Location : New Brunswick
Registration date : 2013-02-18

Back to top Go down

Re: Precarious optimism for veterans

Post by Guest on Mon 04 Apr 2016, 21:03

yup those that got broken as privates got left the frack out on that one.

propat

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: Precarious optimism for veterans

Post by czerv on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 12:09

Great write up by Sean Bruyea.  Also, great article about lousy treatment of Fyne's family: shame on Natynczyk and his croonies.
There is also a petition starting on change.org by Matte Edwards fron St. Johns titled: 'Canadian Veteras Deserve a Royal Commission on Disability Benefits'.  Sign if you can.
Those things work.
Cheers

czerv
CSAT Member

Number of posts : 183
Location : Ontario
Registration date : 2013-05-15

Back to top Go down

Re: Precarious optimism for veterans

Post by Trooper on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 14:46

Here's the petition;

https://www.change.org/p/justin-trudeau-canadian-veterans-deserve-a-royal-commission-on-disability-benefits
avatar
Trooper
CSAT Member

Number of posts : 5276
Location : New Brunswick
Registration date : 2013-02-18

Back to top Go down

Page 1 of 2 1, 2  Next

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum