Veterans Affairs Minister Jean Pierre Blackburn to investigate lump-sum payments

 Jean Pierre Blackburn to release survey of ombudsman’s report on Veterans Charter

Jean Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Veterans Affairs

On June 15th, the Minister of Veterans Affairs told the House of Commons that he was getting ready to make public a report on lump-sum benefits paid to Canadian veterans.
Prior to the Veterans Charter introduced in 2006 by the Conservative government, veterans of Canadian Forces received a lifetime benefit if they became disabled in action. Report earlier this year said that many veterans, especially those suffering from PTSD, were not prepared to become their own investment advisers to wisely invest the funds.
“Some people have criticized the lump sum payment,” said Blackburn during Question Period.  “I personally went to Valcartier to hear what was said when the ombudsman held his consultation. I was so concerned by this point that I asked our department to verify what those receiving the lump sum payment were doing with their money: were they spending it carefully or, on the contrary, inappropriately. In the next few days, we will be releasing the results of this survey.”

He was responding to a question from Bloc member Guy André “The veterans charter put in place by the Conservatives in 2006 has had unfortunate consequences and created inequities.

The main result is that the lifelong monthly pension for injured veterans was replaced with a lump sum payment that does not provide long-term financial security for injured veterans. Will the minister restore the lifelong monthly pension for injured veterans, as requested by veterans and the thousands of signatories to a petition?”

Others question whether the disability tax-free award of $276,076 is adequate under the circumstances. For civilians, a lifetime disability award from the courts or for insurance purposes would be in the range of $800,000 to $1,000,000. It is hard to determine how investing $276,000 would provide a reasonable income stream.
If the lump-sum was invested it would produce a monthly benefit of $979 for a single male and $912 for a married male. The benefit would be lifetime, with a guarantee of 10 years and the growth portion taxable. This would put the disabled veteran under the poverty line in all circumstances. The previous veterans pension was indexed and provided for veterans more substantially than the lump-sum, assuming the lump sum is invested wisely.

Click HERE to read more columns by Stephan Pate.

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