B.C. Court of Appeal to rule on whether wounded veterans’ lawsuit can proceed

File photo.
File photo. Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

Injured veterans across the country will be anxiously watching a B.C. court on Monday, with a decision due in a landmark lawsuit regarding disability pensions.

The suit, which has yet to be certified as a class action, brought forward by the Equitas Society, centres on a 2006 federal government decision to give veterans a single lump-sum payment in place of lifelong disability pensions.

Veterans say for some wounded soldiers, that amounts to a 40 per cent cut in benefits.

LISTEN: B.C. Court of Appeal to rule on whether injured veterans lawsuit can proceed

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The B.C. Court of Appeal is now set to rule on whether the suit can proceed.

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Speaking on the Corus Radio Network’s Roy Green Show, Equitas president Marc Burchell said veterans are tired of having to fight for their benefits.

“So right now, all of the benefits that they get can be withdrawn at any time. If it’s a pension, they can’t be withdrawn, it can’t be clawed back if they have other income,” he said.

“The way it exists right now, because it’s clawbacks, there’s no incentive for them to go out and make another income.”

Burchell said veterans are also frustrated with the current system, which he said is too complex.

“They add layer upon layer of benefits through their successive governments. And all that does is complicate the whole benefit package and make it almost impossible for veterans to navigate their way through the Veterans Affairs.”

LISTEN: Disabled veteran Mark Campbell speaks about Equitas lawsuit
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The Prime Minister’s Office and department of Veterans Affairs could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

During the 2015 election campaign, the Liberals pledged to restore lifetime pensions.

Earlier this year, the federal Liberal government said it would offer disabled veterans a lifetime pension option by the end of the year, but the details of such a scheme remain unknown.

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