During the 2015 campaign CTV News reported that “Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has unveiled a key election promise aimed at Canada’s veterans, including lifelong pensions for injured vets and hundreds of millions of dollars in expanded benefits …[and] … Speaking in Belleville, Ont., on Monday, Trudeau said that if elected, the Liberals will re-establish lifelong pensions, as well as increase the value of the disability award. The disability award is a tax-free sum of money that is given to injured members of the Canadian Forces or veterans.“
Of course, that all went by the wayside after the Trudeau regime came to power and, instead, we saw this:
And now, according to a report by Murray Brewster for CBC News, “The Liberal government’s incoming system of benefits for injured veterans will be slightly more generous than the one it replaces, but it will leave the most severely disabled in worse financial shape, Canada’s parliamentary budget officer said Thursday … [and] … The report from Yves Giroux is likely to add fuel to the heated (and sometimes nasty) political, legal and social debate about how adequately former soldiers, sailors and aircrew are compensated when they are wounded in the line of duty … [because] … The analysis compared the three separate benefit regimes — the one that existed prior to 2006, the New Veterans Charter that replaced it and the new system being introduced by the Liberal government — and found soldiers were being better compensated by far under the pre-2006 system.“
The PBO finds that the benefit packages put in place after two world wars and the Korean War were quite generous; the system put in place by Paul Matin’s Liberal government in 2005 ~ the so called New Veterans Charter ~ was considerably less generous, even after some, slight, improvement were made by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives and the new system, implemented for Justin Trudeau and his buddy Seamus O’Regan, is still less generous than the one which was tossed aside while, in 2005, we had troops in contact with an enemy.
That last sentence lies at the heart of my main objection to the New Veterans Charter and to the dog’s breakfast that the Trudeau regime has offered as a replacement. In my considered opinion the New Veterans Charter was and successive plans based on it remain totally immoral. In 2005 Canadian soldiers were doing battle against a real, determined enemy. Our men and women were fighting and dying and every single one of them had enrolled, voluntarily, in a service which implicitly promised them certain benefits … when, in my experience, the government wanted to change our benefits ~ as it did to our pensions, for example ~ it offered those of us serving a choice: we could opt to remain covered by the old system (we called that being ‘grandfathered‘) or we could sign up for the new one. The pros and cons were explained and we, each one of us then serving, up to a certain point, individually, signed for one or the other plan. Of course every sailor, soldier or air force members who joined after that “certain point” (a fixed date) was eligible only for the new system. That was fair and just. That’s what should have happened in 2005. It did not and, in my opinion, for that reason, the New Veterans Charter is immoral, and so are all the systems which replace it s long as they are based upon it.
It is the government’s right and duty to decide what benefits ~ salaries, perquisites and pensions ~ are appropriate for the peoples’ servants, both civil and uniformed (armed). But it is not appropriate to change the benefits under which a person enrolled and served without giving her or him a choice between the old and new benefits. I am quite happy to agree that the benefits paid to veterans after the world wars and Korea were amongst the most generous in the world, maybe they were even more generous than necessary. I can understand that some officials felt, and still feel, that the range of benefits that might have been applicable to the men and women who joined up in, say, the 1940s to fight the Nazis and the Japanese might not be appropriate for the quite well paid ‘professional soldiers‘ who went to fight in the Balkans and Afghanistan … I can understand that point of view but I don’t have to agree. What I cannot accept, because it is completely immoral, was the decision to change those benefits when we had troops in battle and without offering them a chance to be ‘grandfathered’ under the benefits regime which was in place when they enrolled. That decision stunk and it ought to be unacceptable to every single thinking Canadian of every political persuasion.
There is only one acceptable course of action: design a set of suitable benefits then offers every sailor, soldier or air force member serving today, or who served in the past, a choice to select either the new benefits or the benefit package which was in place when (s)he enrolled … for some, especially those who fought in e.g. the Balkans and Afghanistan prior to about 2007, that will be the post Korea benefits, for some others (who enrolled in or after 2005) that will be the New Veterans Charter with the additions the Conservatives put in place and so on. Yes, it will cost money that will ned to be found from somewhere but it will be the only morally correct thing to do. To do any less is, yet again, to betray the men and women who have fought for us and who have died in action or come home wounded in body, mind and spirit.