RCMP and police who serve overseas need to be provided benefits, War Pensioners say

Tom Sasvari

The Recorder

MANITOULIN—The War Pensioners of Canada (WPC) is requesting that members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and officers with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), who have had a military history working beside the Canadian military in battles such as those fought in Afghanistan, receive the same benefits and programs or entitlements provided by Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC).

Colin Pick, president of the WPC, explained that, “Canada has had involvement in conflict resolution and rebuilding efforts within many countries and, as of 1998, in aid to the United States. The RCMP saw the beginning of service in special duty areas. After 1998, in order to bolster our (Canada’s) commitment to provide the many police officers that are needed to be part of reconstruction teams or other vital services, as provided by Canada and in aid to countries under the United Nations mandate, volunteers were also recruited from Canada’s provincial and municipal peace officers to serve overseas in a special duty capacity.”

However, Mr. Pick pointed out those serving in special duty, peacekeeping or other areas of conflict, namely, national, provincial and municipal police officers, do not have access to the same benefits, services and programs as afforded to the military by VAC, nor have the same equality and entitlements under the New Veterans Charter.

The WPC is calling on the federal government, through a resolution, to take immediate and appropriate steps to rectify this “discrimination” by enacting changes to VAC policy.

“When a police officer is engaged as a trainer, part of a reconstruction team’s peacekeeping efforts or serving abroad in any other capacity, having endured the same dangers and served in the same conflict areas as Canadian military personnel; if physical or mental injury or a disablement is sustained by a peace officer serving in such capacity, he/she should have access to the same benefits and programs as afforded by VAC to our Canadian military members and have equal entitlements to benefits and assistance as afforded under the VAC,” part of the resolution reads.

Mr. Pick said proper recognition of the RCMP’s military history and equality rights to the same services and benefits under VAC as military veterans needs to be in place.

He explained that, “history dictates that the start of the RCMP originate in 1873, as the North West Mounted Rifles. These mounted troops were first established by Act on parliament on August 30, 1873, they were organized along the lines of a British Cavalry Regiment and then over the years from 1855 to 1919, in both military and police service to Canada, they earned the battle honors that are proudly displayed on their Regimental Guido.”

In 1904 they were given the title of the Royal prefix, thus their name changed to the Royal North West Mounted Police, said Mr. Pick. Again in 1920 the name was changed to the RCMP as we know it today. And, in 1921, King George V awarded the RCMP the status of a Regiment of Dragoons, in order to carry and display on parades, a Regimental Guidon naming their military battle honours as won.

However, when RCMP officers are injured or disabled in a special duty area, they don’t receive equal benefits as the military under the VAC, said Mr. Pick.

The WPC passed a motion on this issue as well, at a meeting last week, which states, “after serving side by side in military conflicts, inclusive of present day Afghanistan, when an RCMP officer is injured or disabled in a special duty area, in comparison to the military, the RCMP do not receive equal treatment of benefits, programs or entitlements under VAC; thus the government of Canada should take immediate and appropriate steps to right this wrong, by granting our national police officers equal benefits, access to programs and other entitlements due, as per the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

Both these resolutions have been forwarded to MP Carol Hughes to bring forward to the federal government on behalf of the WPC.