Advocating for changes to the New Veterans Charter

Canadians are hearing more and more about the deep gaps in care and benefits for Veterans. At the forefront of discussion is the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Act (CFMVRCA), commonly referred to as the New Veterans Charter (NVC), a set of benefits adopted in 2006 without clause-by-clause review in Parliamentary Committee and in the Senate because of a perceived view that the Pension Act did not meet the modern needs of many injured and ill Veterans.

Below is the Royal Canadian Legion’s perspective on the New Veterans Charter.

When the New Veterans Charter (NVC) was established, replacing the Pension Act, it brought a holistic approach to Veterans’ care and benefits. For many, the Disability Pension did not provide enough for the basic necessities, and the Pension Act did not adequately look after ill and injured Veterans and their families or facilitate their transition to civilian life. The NVC offered a number of benefits that the Pension Act did not provide including additional financial benefits, disability benefits, rehabilitation services, health services, education assistance, and job placement assistance to address not only financial support, but also continuing care and quality of life. However, the NVC did not come without its faults.

When the NVC was introduced, the Legion, as part of a multidisciplinary group which included representatives from other Veterans’ organizations, medical specialists, government, the Canadian Armed Forces and others was invited to participate in the New Veterans Charter working group.  The Legion was behind the New Veterans Charter because it was promised that the charter would be a “living charter” which could be amended as flaws or gaps were identified. Once the Charter was adopted, the New Veterans Charter Advisory Group was formed to help identify issues and make recommendations to the Senate and Parliamentary Committee on gaps in care and benefits.

Recommendations for change were identified early on, yet, despite assurances the Charter would be amended as gaps were identified, the government left it neglected for five years before making the first amendment. Progress has been excruciatingly slow since, and now we see the massive holes left as our Veterans return from conflicts in dire need of support.

The men and women who serve our country sign up voluntarily, knowing the risks and dangers of the job. The government has an obligation to ensure all who served, and their families, are cared for. The NVC provides a new approach to Veteran care that focuses not only on providing financial stability, but also supports wellness and quality of life. 

While the Legion supports the concept of the New Veterans Charter, the Legion continues to advocate for a full review of the Charter and continues to press the government for changes. As it stands, the Charter is not sufficient to meet the needs of today’s Veterans.

The Legion is currently focusing on advocating to improve the following grave deficiencies:

  • Increase Earnings Loss Benefit (ELB) to provide 100% of pre-release income and, if permanently incapacitated, provide ELB for life (not terminated at 65, as is currently the case).
  • Projected career earnings of a CF Member should determine minimum ELB.
  • Promotion of Academic Research (Physical and Mental Health) to support an integrated approach to establish additional VAC Entitlement Eligibility Guidelines (EEGs).
  • The Legion also supports the recommendation in the recent Veterans Ombudsman’s report “Improving the New Veterans Charter” that the family, specifically that the caregiver needs should be given higher priority and that there should be financial recognition and compensation of the contribution and sacrifices made by the entire family.
  • For those who served to protect the very rights and freedoms we enjoy today, we owe our Veterans our commitment to work on their behalf. We stand committed, working to ensure the care and benefits of Canada’s Veterans are the best they can possibly be and that all governments honour their obligations to the men and women who serve in the Canadian Armed Forces.

    Learn more about the issues the Legion is advocating for: Advocating for Change