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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Family of dead Abbotsford football star urge changes to mental health policies in hospitals

Uko family disappointed in actions of Regina hospital, hosting public funeral service this weekend

Sex offender Danny Depew sentenced in Abbotsford to 2.5 more years

Depew still has child-luring charges before the courts in Ontario

VIDEO: RCMP Emergency Response Team at known drug house in Chilliwack

Armed officers respond to reports of shots, bring in ERT, K-9 unit and spike belt

PHOTOS: Playtime is back!

Paula Morrison of Angel Daycare Centre captured a moment of absolute joy

Maple Ridge woman fights WorkSafe BC over police widow’s pension

Dalila Vroom says husband, Const. Rob Vroom, died as a result of PTSD from time with Abbotsford PD

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The importance of accurate, ethical reporting is critical – perhaps as never before

VIDEO: Internal investigation into aggressive arrest by Kelowna Mountie

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

COVID claims 23rd Langley Lodge patient, making it the deadliest outbreak in B.C.

Coronavirus kills another senior at Langley care home, bringing B.C. total to 166

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

John Horgan says COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased regionally

B.C. Liberals urge ‘tailored’ response based on infections

Feds get failing grade for lack of action plan on anniversary of MMIWG report

‘Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan’

B.C. ranchers, lodge operators say Indigenous land title shuts them out

Tsilhqot’in jurisdiction affects grazing, access to private property

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Most Read