Aaron Bedard, one of the plaintiffs in the Equitas Society’s class-action lawsuit, participated in the society’s Inaugural Walk For Veterans in Burnaby in October. (File photo)

Veterans take pension appeal to Canada’s top court

White Rock-based Equitas Society says soldiers injured in Afghanistan ‘deserve better’

Canadian armed forces veterans who have been suing the federal government to have their full disability pensions reinstated are turning to the Supreme Court of Canada for a ruling to overturn a recent decision by the BC Court of Appeal.

That decision, handed down Dec. 4, ruled against continuing their class-action lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court, on the grounds that, in spite of verbal support for veterans in the House of Commons, and promises by the Liberal government to reinstate lifelong pensions removed by the previous Conservative government, such statements do not have the force of law.

The original court action was launched by White Rock-based Equitas Society in 2012.

Wednesday (Jan. 31), lawyers for the group – veterans injured while serving in Afghanistan – made an application to the Supreme Court in Ottawa for a leave to appeal, asserting that the BC Court of Appeal erred in finding that there is no legal obligation or social covenant to “those who have served Canada honourably.”

In a press release from the Equitas Society, which advocates for the veterans and filed the lawsuit on their behalf, president Marc Burchell said “our armed forces members deserve better than this.”

“The BC Appeals Court ruling says there is nothing embedded in the law to protect them,” he said.

“This case is about making sure the Government of Canada supports our fighting men and women as they must. The government must either reinstate the old Pension Act, or must make sure compensation for injuries under the New Veterans Charter is as good as – or better – than what they received before.”

In a memorandum of argument on behalf of the plaintiffs, Vancouver lawyer Don Sorochan stated that men and women who voluntarily sign up for Canada’s military do so at “great personal risk and sacrifice.”

“In exchange for that sacrifice there is an obligation on the Government and people of Canada to ensure those who are injured or fall receive adequate recognition and compensation for their injuries or losses,” Sorochan wrote.

The application seeks permission from the Supreme Court of Canada to have the matter argued on a full appeal to the court so that a judgment of the Supreme Court could assist “courts tasked with examining the nature and extent of obligations owing to those injured in service to Canada.”

Canadian soldiers received disability pensions from 1919, until the New Veterans Charter took effect in 2006, under the Harper government.

The charter replaced the pensions with lump-sum payments which, Equitas argues, has represented a sharp reduction in benefits for the majority of veterans.

Just Posted

BC Rural Dividend gives $200,000 to continue wildfire recovery in Williams Lake

Sugar Cane Development Corporation and Cariboo Chilcotin Tourism Association to benefit

CRD Board Highlights: Regional topics focus of special meeting held Jan. 17

The meeting was to bring new and returning directors up to speed on the regional topics

RCMP investigating bomb threat against Williams Lake fire hall

Police and firefighters respond to threat at about 3 a.m. Saturday.

T-wolves win two at home; eye a berth at provincials in March

“We didn’t give up and kept battling … we just told them to keep working hard and it paid off.”

2-for-1: Total lunar eclipse comes with supermoon bonus

On Sunday night, the moon, Earth and sun lined up to create the eclipse, which was visible throughout North and South America

Trial starts for man accused of killing Winnipeg bus driver

The Winnipeg bus driver was stabbed multiple times back in 2017

Giuliani clarifies comments about Trump Tower Moscow project

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani clarifies comments he made

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Speaker brings report on allegations to B.C. legislature committee

Report describes Darryl Plecas’ suspicions about senior staff

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

Parole granted for drunk driver that killed BC RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

Doug Ford says the Liberals’ carbon tax will plunge Canada into recession

The Ontario premier said there are already warning signs of difficult economic times ahead

Kamala Harris opens U.S. presidential bid in challenge to Trump

The 54-year old portrayed herself as a fighter for justice, decency and equality in a video distributed by her campaign

Most Read