MANITOULIN—Even with improvements that have been made by the federal government to help veterans, financial stability is still lacking for those veterans severely injured serving Canada, says the president of the War Pensioners of Canada (WPC).
“In looking at the issues surrounding satisfying the medical, moral and financial needs of seriously injured veterans who served Canada at war, until their lives were forever changed because of the multiple loss of limbs and other injuries causing various degrees of physical disability, combined with the mental stressors of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD ) and OSI, which is an enormous issue in itself; it is the financial stability that is still lacking,” Colin Pick, WPC president wrote in a letter to Veterans Affairs Canada Minister Seamus O’Regan dated March 21. “In my opinion, next to those who paid the supreme sacrifice, these severely injured veterans deserve the utmost priority to the best of medic al care, rehabilitation back into civilian life and a pension that renders no financial insecurity or worries for these veterans or their families.”
Mr. Pick in his letter to Minister O’Regan said, “further to my letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of December 9, 2017 I would like to apprise you of the strong opinions of the War Pensioners of Canada regarding a meaningful life pension for seriously injured veterans and their families that is financially fair and just.”
“Please understand that the WPC very much appreciates the efforts made by your office to date to better the benefits for seriously injured veterans, together with “The Pension for Life’ proposal as introduced by Veterans Affairs Canada of December 2017,” wrote Mr. Pick. “One, for a monthly tax-free payment for pain and suffering caused by service-related disabilities;, two- income replacement for veterans experiencing trouble returning to the workplace and three, other benefits to help veterans with education, employment, physical and mental health issues.”
“No, even with everything the government has done, it still doesn’t do everything we had hoped,” Mr. Pick told the Recorder. “These veterans who have been seriously injured are still way underfunded.” He explained, “when I wrote to Prime Minister Trudeau the first time on this issue, I pointed out a Major in the military (who was severely injured) would get a lump sum payment of $350,000 for the rest of their life. Bill Kerr, a veteran in Sudbury, is a good example; he is a corporal and got about $100,000 less than a Major, and that is for the rest of their life. You can’t buy a house for that amount, especially it needs to be wheelchair equipped.”
“As I had told Prime Minister Trudeau in my first letter he needs to understand that his annual salary, if this was the same as for a veteran, would be a one-time lump sum that they would have to live the rest of his life on,” said Mr. Pick. “Mr. O’Regan’s famous line as Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada is that his department has done more for veterans in the past two years than the Conservatives did all the time they were in power. And they have made some improvements. We just want to see if they will come around and provide a pension for seriously injured veterans and their families that is fair and just.”
“We are talking about veterans who have been severely injured, lost arms and legs for example; and all have PTSD,” said Mr. Pick. “They should be taken care of financially. Not to take away anything from other veterans that need help but these veterans who have been severely injured need to be a priority.”
Meanwhile earlier this week it was disclosed that the federal government has spent more than $38 million on legal proceedings involving Canada’s veterans over the past two years. Mr. Pick added, “no doubt this amount would go a long way for our veterans and their needs, and what they deserve.”