While pleased with the increase in the New Veterans Charter (NVC) maximum disability award payment, the veterans ombudsman says the federal government now needs to recognize the non-economic effects on the most severely disabled veterans.
“While no amount of money can provide full restitution,” said Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent, “veterans who have suffered from an illness or injury due to their service need to be fairly compensated for the impact their disability has on their lives and on the lives of their families.”
Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine fair compensation for such things as diminished body function, pain and suffering, emotional distress, limits on activities, loss of companionship and guidance, says the report, Fair Compensation to Veterans and Their Survivors for Pain and Suffering.
The report compared benefits provided by federal and provincial programs and court decisions to non-military Canadians for compensation of non-economic losses provided under the NVC.
This comparison determined the disability award, commonly called the lump-sum payment, raised from $310,378 to $360,000 in the 2016 federal budget (and subject to annual adjustment), is now fair and compares well with court awards other Canadians receive for non-economic effects of impairment or injury.
However, Parent found the most severely disabled veterans are not compensated as well under the NVC as veterans covered by the Pension Act. The NVC’s permanent impairment allowance (PIA) provides economic compensation for lost job opportunities while its PIA supplement provides additional financial support for those not capable of employment. Both are monthly taxable benefits. But the NVC does not compensate for the non-economic effects of exceptional incapacity as does the Pension Act’s exceptional incapacity allowance. This allowance provides additional monthly compensation for disability pensioners suffering extraordinary physical, social and psychological impairment.
The report recommends the NVC introduce a similar allowance.