Not surprised. The message has been fired at them loud and clear from the loud/obnoxious parts of the veterans community that there had better be something in this budget, or they will face a political revolt from a group that made a lot of loud and painful noise against the last government. Bear in mind this is also still against the backdrop of the Equitas lawsuit on almost exactly this issue, and which is presently awaiting a court decision that should allow it to go to trial.
It won't be a reversal to the Pension Act system. That was floated in December 2015 at the VAC stakeholders conference and was almost universally shot down. NVC has a lot of good components; really ONLY the lump sum is hated- the rest offers a lot. We will in all likelihood be seeing a hybrid system that will preserve the bulk of the current benefits, and will enhance monthly payments in order to achieve equity with the Pension Act payments. Some of the usual suspects will piss and moan about 'economic' benefits versus those for 'sacrifice', but thwere it really matters - bottom line dollars in pockets - I believe the government recognizes that post-2006 vets need to:
- Not be disadvantaged in comparison to the Pension Act;
- Have every opportunity to go through vocational rehab and education so they can have a meaningful future;
- Be compensated for the economic impact of restricted career growth (E.g., blown up as a Pte/Cpl instead of retiring as a WO/MWO /Maj)
- See appropriate comepsnation along similar lines for family members who are stuck being primary caregivers instead of pursuing their own careers.
I have to admit, I'm a little disappointed to read this comment. Those "loud/obnoxious" parts of the veterans community aren't advocating for a return to the Pension Act. They're advocating for a return to the Pension Act Disability Pension
to replace the woefully inequitable Disability Award. I have not heard of anyone wanting the whole NVC tossed and the Pension Act suite of benefits to be reinstated. Even the "loud/obnoxious" veterans acknowledge that there are some positives in the NVC that could be even better.
When you say that a return to the Disability Pension was almost
universally shot down by the stakeholders in December 2015, it's important to put that into context. The VAC Policy Advisory Group of stakeholders is comprised of:
- Michael Blais, Canadian Veterans Advocacy
- Major (Retired) Mark Campbell
- Brian Forbes, National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada
- Michel Houle, Veterans UN-NATO Canada
- Master Warrant Officer (Retired) William MacDonald
- Major-General John Milne
- Luc O’Bomsawin, Aboriginal Veterans Autochtones
- Brigadier-General (Retired) Joe Sharpe
- Commodore (Retired) Andrea Siew
- Brad White, Royal Canadian Legion
Out of that group, only one member remains steadfast that the restoration of the Disability Pension is what the government promised during the election, and he remains committed to holding them to that promise. Despite this lone voice, the Group made some recommendations that completely dodged the issue of the Disability Pension, and dealt with issues that primarily concerned the most disabled veterans. The group also recommended that no veteran should be any worse off under the NVC than they would have been under the Pension Act - something that is quite impossible to achieve given the delta between the Disability Award and the Disability Pension - but doesn't address exactly how to achieve the state of a NVC veteran (any/all of them) being no worse off than under the Pension Act. I wish I could be more specific about what the Group's recommendations were, but it appears that the Record of Discussion for that meeting is no longer present on the VAC website, so I'm going from memory.
To date, I haven't seen anything from Policy Advisory Group explaining why a return to a Disability Pension was shot down so quickly. I'm not a strong numbers guy, but my back-of-a-cigarette-pack calculations don't see a return to a Disability Pension as being an undue burden on the government coffers, given that the liability is spread out over decades rather than in one given year for a Disability Award. Dealing with members who have already received a Disability Award should also be a relatively simple exercise in accounting to switch them back to a pension system. I have no idea why the Group insists on blurring the lines between compensation for non-economic losses (pain & suffering) and income replacement compensation. Treat each as a separate benefit, and stop trying to mix them together. That's what the legal system does.
To me (and to a lot of other veterans, from what I see), the Policy Advisory Group sold us out. For what, or why, I'm not quite sure - considering that the Liberal election promise focused on a return to disability pensions - and there's only ever been one disability pension to return to. The Policy Advisory Group only had to recommend that the government keep its promise - it didn't even involve having to bargain for something that hadn't already been promised by the government.
edited to add "almost"