By Harold Leduc
Veteran Watch continues to provide a summary of our policy report cards on each of the political parties. You don’t need to compare policy positions; Veteran Watch has done it for you. Today, Veteran Watch examines the NDP
Does the proposal fall inline with the spirit of parity of the recently re-affirmed social covenant?
It does in part. In addition to their original platform the NDP updated their platform by announcing greater spending and review of veterans concerns. There is a commitment to treat all veterans as one, and move away from a for-profit medical insurance attitude (SISIP). The proposal commits to reopening VAC offices and reviewing areas of concern.
The proposal fails to meet the spirit of the social covenant by assimilating the unique unlimited liability nature of military service with RCMP service. This is not supported in law and devalues both military and RCMP service and sacrifice.
Does the proposed policy meet veterans and their families needs?
There is a commitment to increase certain programs and review areas of concern. It is yet to be seen if the pledged $454 million over four years will be sufficient to meet veterans and their families needs. Opening access to long term care facilities appears to be a move towards parity with existing benefit available under the WWII Veterans Charter and other available benefits CAF veterans are denied access to. The devil is in the details.
The policy doesn’t indicate whether widows and children’s benefits will be restored to Pension Act levels.
Is a return to the Pension Act contemplated?
No despite it being the most controversial part of the NVC. The policy commits to a re-establishment of life long pensions and an increase the disability award. The life long Pension Act benefit is a tax-free disability award as is the NVC’s lump sum. The increase referred to is an increase in the lump sum and the life long pension alluded to appears to be a collection of taxable benefits established for different purposes.
Not returning to the Pension Act denies benefits for spouses and families.
Does the proposal address the difficulties veterans have in accessing benefits?
Somewhat, as the proposal addresses a change to VRAB. There is no mention of addressing the denial culture at the Department level.
Does the proposal acknowledge current court actions against veterans?
Yes, there is not mention on how this would be addressed.
Based on the available information, the NDP Party’s policy is promising despite failing to address the most contentious part of the NVC. It does offer promise by moving beyond meeting veterans’ transition needs. Details are required to determine if the proposed dollar figures are sufficient. Major policy drawback is the assimilation of military and RCMP service and sacrifice.