Veterans suing government over disability pensions
Kevin Berry says he is standing for equality for future generations of Canadian veterans. July 22, 2013. (CTV)
Chris Lane, CTV British Columbia
Published Monday, July 22, 2013 6:06PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, July 22, 2013 6:11PM PDT
The federal government is asking a BC Supreme Court judge to strike down a class-action lawsuit filed by six war veterans over disability compensation.
The disabled veterans are challenging a pension program introduced in 2006, which the soldiers say violates their human rights with insufficient and arbitrary disability payments.
Veteran pensions previously fell under the Pension Act, before the New Veterans Charter was signed off seven years ago to establish more veteran-specific regulations.
Kevin Berry, one of the plaintiffs named in the lawsuit, contends that the benefits are 40 to 90 per cent worse under the new rules, and are weaker than provincial compensation plans.
The federal government argues the soldiers’ concerns should not be dealt with by the courts. They say the veterans should lobby MPs instead to change the legislation.
“They’re telling us that you can’t sue us because you’re veterans, you’re not entitled to equal compensation because you’re veterans,” said Berry.
“We’re not going to stand for that.”
Jim Scott, whose son Daniel is another one of the six disabled soldiers in the class-action suit, said the court case will determine what power soldiers have to negotiate their pensions.
“What we’re here to do today is to establish whether soldiers have fundamental rights under the Charter … and whether the government owes them a duty of care,” said Scott.
The court hearing will continue Tuesday and Wednesday.