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Letter-Writing Campaign Launched By The Legion

Frustrated by the federal government’s slow response to substantive changes recommended to the New Veterans Charter, The Royal Canadian Legion has launched a campaign asking its members and the public to write letters to the federal government urging action before tabling of the 2015 federal budget.

“Our injured veterans and their families cannot wait any longer,” said Dominion President Tom Eagles. “We decided to undertake another letter-writing campaign because we wanted politicians of all stripes to hear from veterans, their families, Legion members and the public about how serious this issue really is.”

After an eight-month study, the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs recommended 14 changes to improve Charter benefits in June (Parliamentary Committee Recommends Changes to New Veterans Charter, September/October). The government responded in October that it would tackle the recommendations in two phases. Immediate revisions were begun on non-monetary items and those not needing approvals outside the department. More substantive issues—including those considered vital by the Legion—would be addressed after “further due diligence.” (Government Response on Charter Changes Disappoints Veterans, November/December).

“The Legion does not believe the delay is justified,” said Eagles. Nine years of reports on the Charter’s deficiencies, including an actuarial analysis by the veterans ombudsman, have identified what needs to be done. “This government is now sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars of unspent funds that could easily and readily be channelled to address the needs of veterans and their families.” The Legion identifies three major issues requiring urgent action:

•    Increasing the Earnings Loss Benefit, which is now pegged at 75 per cent of pre-release income. The Legion is urging it be increased to 100 per cent; the committee report recommended 85 per cent, with a cap of $70,000.
•    The disability award, in 2014 a maximum of $301,275, be raised to reflect civil court awards, approximately $360,000 in 2014.
•    Reservists be entitled to the same earnings loss benefits and support as veterans of the regular forces.

The Legion provided a template letter for mailing, e-mailing or faxing to members of Parliament, the ministers of Veterans Affairs, Finance and National Defence, president of the Treasury Board and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The template can be found at

In the first month of the campaign, the Legion had 10,000 responses, in par with responses to its 2013 letter-writing campaign which resulted in 50,000 letters to government and an increase in funeral and burial benefits for veterans.

The Legion intends to keep up the pressure. “We will continue to put the interests of veterans and the situations of veterans before government so they can see first-hand what is happening to the men and women they have put in harm’s way,” said Eagles.

The Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans in Canada are among veterans’ organizations encouraging their members to write letters in support of the Legion campaign, said Dominion Secretary-Treasurer Deanna Fimrite. Members can use the template from the Legion website, or the one on, she said.

On Nov. 23, Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino and Defence Minister Rob Nicholson announced that an additional $200 million will be spent by their two departments and Health Canada for improvements to the mental health care of veterans and Canadian Armed Forces personnel.

While the money does not address the priorities outlined by the Legion, Eagles did express cautious optimism. “It has taken a great deal of effort from the Legion, veterans groups, veterans themselves and all Canadians to get this action from government,” he said. “This funding represents a small step forward on a very long road.”


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