His comments are a perfect opportunity to keep the discussion going on why CF veteran’s and their families are being treated different when the law prescribes that all veterans are the same.
What is interesting in his comments is that Mr. Gross doesn’t draw a distinction between WWI, WWII, Korea and modern day military service nor the sacrifice to CF members (all eras) and their families. This is in line with the early 2000 legal opinion provided by the Justice Department (JD) to Veterans Affairs Canada opining that all military service in Canada, regardless of era, is equal under the law (Leduc & MacLeod, A Dirty Little Skirmish, 2015, JC Charlton Publishing, page 61).
So if citizens, the law and the legal arguments in the Miller Thompson / Equitas class action lawsuit don’t make a distinction, shouldn’t we ask ourselves on what grounds the government, Veterans Ombudsman (VO), bureaucracy, involved veterans organizations and individual advocates do?
The argument that all military veterans are equal under the law was presented to VAC in the early 2000’s, with representatives present of the veterans organizations that form the core group of the Minister’s and other advisory groups to this day. The attached Active Service Comparison matrix was used in the presentation and used by VAC when they asked the Justice Department (JD) to provide a legal opinion on the Question. VAC advised the veterans organizations representatives that the Justice Department’s opinion was that the service of all active service veterans (regardless of era) was equal under the law. The Miller Thompson / Equitas class action lawsuit is one outcome of Government (with the support of some veterans organizations) not following the law http://equitassociety.ca/legal-action
Based on JD’s legal opinion, the Government, the Veterans organizations and individual advocates are aware that since the modern Canadian Armed Forces was established in 1950, it's veterans and their families are entitled to all programs and benefits VAC has to offer including those set forth in the WWII Veterans Charter (Chapter 2, A Dirty Little Skirmish). In other words, the programs of the New Veterans Charter (except the Lump sum) were established for two reasons:
1) to make the SISIP program redundant, and
2) to end government’s 60 plus years of negligence of denying programs and benefits to CF veterans and their families.
Prior to conceiving of the NVC, Government was aware that an available option to meet CF veterans and their families needs was to enact a “Veterans Benefits Act” (VBA) just like they did for those CF veterans who served in Korea. The VBA amended the qualifying language of the WWII Veterans Charter to provide (Korea veteran’s) access. Legislation like the War Veterans Allowance Act has service in the CF as qualifying language for example.
The NVC programs fall short of the relevant programs offered in the WWII Veterans Charter. WWII Veterans Charter programs can be seen in the attached PTSD Programs Document submitted to the Senate (and VAC) in 2003 at the Senate’s request. CF veterans and their families also legally qualify for access to beds in the established veterans long term care facilities across the country among other things but are denied access because the ANAVets, Legion, NCVA didn’t (don’t) support providing CF veterans and their families access or the equality the Constitution requires (Chapter 2, A Dirty Little Skirmish).
The current Veterans Ombudsman misrepresented the Pension Act in his NVC actuary analysis, a report that opened the door for Government to continue their agenda of saving money on the backs of disabled veterans and their families. Despite being deceptive, the VO’s act goes unchallenged by the Parliamentary Committee, veterans organization and advocates who are aware. They are also aware that he, his Deputy and senior legal counsel do not agree with the Privacy Commissioner’s interpretation of the Privacy Act on what constitutes a breach of a veteran’s privacy. Their explanations are not supported by law but what is even stranger is that they only apply this interpretation to certain veterans.
The Government and the VAC bureaucracy is fully aware that Section 95 of the NVC discriminates against and creates a lower class of widows leaving them to struggle to make ends meet below the poverty line. They are aware that Part III of the NVC was designed to replace the entire Pension Act, yet it doesn’t consider or cover all aspects of the PA.
Another example of the erosion of CF veterans benefits is that Government purposefully allowed them to collect their superannuation (pension) as soon as they qualified for it after 10, 20 or more years as a re-establishment benefit to help them transition back into civilian society while the public service (civilians) had to wait until they reached a certain age before qualifying. That was changed for CF veterans in 2005 and brought into line with the Public Service Superannuation Act (veterans now have to wait until they are 55 years old to collect) by bureaucrats and at least one former Member of Parliament (I could name names) who are jealous of the generosity of the Social Contract in exchange for CF members willingness to die for the country if need be. The civil service wants the generosity of the social contract without the consequence of having to place themselves at risk to qualify.
Recognition of CF veterans service also falls short in that since the early 2000’s, government was aware of our qualification yet refuses to award a Canadian Volunteer Service Medal (see attached active service matrix and CVSM support document).
The 2004 document produced by Hollis Lucky, entitled “Honouring the Veterans Charter” provides an evidence based road map through a legal lens of how to get the dignity and special status of veterans restored for CF veterans and their families.
When the comments by Paul Gross and other citizens, the fact & evidence based information in “A Dirty Little Skirmish”, the above mentioned and attached documents, the arguments in the Miller Thompson class action lawsuit (among other lawsuits) with the actions of Government, the veterans organizations and individual advocates since the late 1990’s we find a great disconnect, a huge gap created for no other reason than saving money on the backs of disabled veterans and their families.
This disconnect has been going on for almost 25 years now since government realized they were negligent in meeting the needs of CF veterans and their families. We have to wonder how much more pain and suffering Canadian’s can stomach before government, involved organizations and advocates start following the fullest spirit and intent of the law.
Certainly citizens would want that for their fellow citizens who volunteer to die (if necessary) or be disabled fulfilling government's policy to keep their fellow citizens free and safe.
I’d be interested to hear others thoughts on this?
Supporting documents can be found in our "Book and Documents" page