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

LETTER: The minority will control the majority

Existing electoral system is stable, simple and successful.

LETTER: Thanks to all who ran in election

To those that were elected, I look forward to your collective stewardship

Kettle Valley Steam Railway holds train ride of terror

Summerland tourist train will have Halloween-themed events

Ballet Kelowna to kick off 16th season with pair of premiers

Fresh off performances in Beijing and Toronto, company will perform at KCT Nov. 16 and 17

LETTER: Support candidates who will assist cannabis industry

Cannabis has often provided extra income for fruit growers or paid the bills for students

B.C. sailor surprised by humpback whale playing under her boat

Jodi Klahm-Kozicki said the experience was ‘magical’ near Denman Island

VOTE: Nature in Focus reader’s choice photo contest

The Penticton Western News Reader’s Choice photo contest

Who is running in Summerland’s election?

Introducing you to the candidates asking for your vote on Oct. 20

China opens mega-bridge linking Hong Kong to mainland

The $20 billion bridge took almost a decade to build while incurring major delays and cost overruns

Dangerous Cat 4 Hurricane Willa closing in on Mexico coast

Officials said 7,000 to 8,000 people were being evacuated from low-lying areas, mostly in Sinaloa state

Excessive speed named as cause of Taiwan train derailment

18 people were killed and at least 170 more were injured

VIDEO: Fire destroys historic Hitching Post restaurant in Hedley

Two people were injured as fire ripped through the Hedley restaurant around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday

Ovechkin has 4 points as Caps rough up Canucks 5-2

WATCH: Defending champs pick up impressive win in Vancouver

World Junior Hockey fever hits Vernon

Vipers spice up floor ball demonstration at OK Landing School

Most Read