Government of Canada Presses Ahead With Enhancements for Veterans - New measures expected to take effect this fall will provide more help to Veterans.
The Honorable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, announced that proposed regulatory changes in support of enhancing the New Veterans Charter have been published in the Canada Gazette.
The pre-publication of these regulatory changes is the next step toward bringing into force the measures that were approved by Parliament and received Royal Assent in March.
"We know there are men and women counting on these enhanced benefits to improve the quality of their lives, and we want to deliver them as quickly as possible," said Minister Blaney, who was in Niagara Falls today to participate in the official ceremonies for Canadian Veterans National Rendezvous.
The new measures are expected to take effect early this fall, when the normal regulatory approval process has been completed.
Minister Blaney said he will also continue to meet with Veterans and their families in their own communities this summer to discuss their concerns and priorities. His tour began earlier this week, in New Brunswick.
"Our Government is committed to listening to what our men and women in uniform both past and present have to say about the care and support they are receiving from their country," said Minister Blaney. "That is why we introduced these improvements through the Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act in the first place.
"Promoting a better understanding of the New Veterans Charter is a priority," said Minister Blaney. "I think some of the criticisms we have heard recently are due, in part, to the fact that we haven't done enough to explain the New Veterans Charter since it was implemented five years ago."
"The New Veterans Charter really does represent a much more modern, effective and compassionate way to help Veterans and CF members injured in the line of duty," said Minister Blaney. "We also promised to make sure the New Veterans Charter evolved with the needs of the men and women it serves, and that is what we are doing with our latest enhancements."
The Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act, passed as Bill C-55 in the last Parliament, provides additional monthly support to seriously ill and injured Veterans and creates flexible new payment options for recipients of the disability award.
What the enhancements to the New Veterans Charter will do:
Establish a minimum pre-tax income of $40,000 a year for Veterans who are in rehabilitation or, if they are no longer able to be gainfully employed, until age 65;
Expand eligibility for additional monthly allowances (worth up to $1,632 per month for life) for seriously injured Veterans;
Introduce a new $1,000 monthly supplement to the Permanent Impairment Allowance (for life) to help our most seriously injured or ill Veterans who are unable to return to suitable, gainful employment; and
Create new payment options for Canadian Forces members and Veterans receiving a disability award. While these men and women will still have the choice of a lump-sum payment, they will also be able to receive a disability award as either an annual payment over any number of years they choose, or as a combination of a partial lump-sum payment and annual installments (with interest.)
"With these new payment options for the disability award, the Government of Canada is recognizing that our CF members and Veterans need choices to address their unique financial circumstances," said Minister Blaney.
Additional Details on the Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act
The Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act, which was passed by the last Parliament in March 2011, features significant changes to the New Veterans Charter to address concerns raised by Veterans, their families, as well as members of Veterans' organizations, advisory groups and parliamentary committees.
With these enhancements, which are expected to come into force this fall, the Government of Canada will:
improve access to monthly benefits (worth up to an additional $1,632 per month, and payable for life) for seriously injured Veterans;
introduce a new monthly $1,000 supplement to the Permanent Impairment Allowance also payable for life to help our most seriously injured or ill Veterans who are unable to be suitably, gainfully employed; and
provide flexible payment options for receiving a disability award.
Also, by amending regulations which govern the New Veterans Charter, the Government will establish a minimum pre-tax income of $40,000 a year for all ill and injured Veterans in the rehabilitation program or, if they are unable to be suitably and gainfully employed again, until age 65.
Improving access to the Permanent Impairment Allowance and the Exceptional Incapacity Allowance:
When the New Veterans Charter was implemented in 2006, it resulted in some unforeseen gaps between the new charter and the Pension Act, which had previously served all Veterans. As a result, a number of severely injured Veterans found themselves ineligible for either the new Permanent Impairment Allowance under the New Veterans Charter or the Exceptional Incapacity Allowance under the Pension Act.
By correcting these eligibility barriers between the two systems, it is expected that as many as 3,500 Veterans will now qualify for either the Permanent Impairment Allowance or the Exceptional Incapacity Allowance over the next five years.
Introducing a monthly $1,000 supplement for permanently and severely injured Veterans:
Severely injured Veterans who are receiving the Permanent Impairment Allowance and are unable to be suitably, gainfully employed will receive an additional $1,000 per month for the rest of their lives. This would be added to other financial supports they may receive, such as the minimum, pre-tax income of $40,000 a year available through the Earnings Loss benefit. It is anticipated that approximately 500 Veterans will benefit from this change over the next five years.
Providing payment options for the Disability Award:
The tax-free Disability Award is currently a one-time payment designed solely to recognize and compensate for the non-economic impact (the pain and suffering) of an injury or illness. It is in addition to other financial supports (such as the monthly Earnings Loss benefit and the Permanent Impairment Allowance) which recognize the ongoing economic impact of an injury. Under this change to the New Veterans Charter, CF members and Veterans will have new payment options for receiving their disability award. These options are:
equal annual payments spread out over the number of years of their choice (with interest);
a partial lump-sum payment with the balance paid out in annual installments over any number of years (with interest); or
a single lump-sum payment.
Veterans will also have the option at any time to receive the balance of their disability award in a final lump-sum payment.
Introducing a minimum annual Earnings Loss benefit:
In addition to the legislated changes outlined above, the regulations which govern the New Veterans Charter are being amended to include a minimum annual, pre-tax income of $40,000 for recipients of the monthly Earnings Loss benefit. This enhancement should, over the next five years, increase the monthly financial support available to approximately 2,300 Veterans who either left the Canadian Forces while still at a low military rank or when military salaries were much lower than they are today.
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