Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Veterans News

'Dismissing the Knock at the Door'

Class action lawsuit to benefit 14,000 vets, but Charter still flawed

Submitted by Claude LaTulippe, Chilliwack

 

eter Driscoll and Daniel Wallace from the firm of McInnis Cooper have done an admirable job in this class action (see release below). Denis Manuge must be commended for sticking up for what he believed to be wrong.

 

He went through hell navigating the political and government corridors to a point where he was on the verge of quitting and succumbed to the lack of sensitivity of our government and its bureaucracy. It is deplorable that a veteran has to resort to the Justice Department to get any resolve on unjust and unfair policies.


In a way we, veterans, must bear some of the blame. Our national representation is fragmented. We do not and never had a single body to argue and engage on our behalf. The New Veterans Charter (NVC) is a prime example. Had we been given a chance to sit at the table when the NVC was put together pre 2005, I can guarantee that its present form would be very different.


Same with the integration of the CPP with the CFSA in 1965. Had the military been adequately represented, it would never had been enacted in its present form. Now we are stuck with the controversial issue of the pension clawback when a veteran gets to 65 years of age.


These issues are severely affecting veterans, yet our government keeps dismissing the knock on the door hoping that whoever it is goes away. It did not happened with Denis Manuge. He should get a medal for his courage and dedication. A wrong was righted and it does not have anything to do with the goodwill of our current government.


So where does that leave current and future veterans? Are we to march again to be heard? Why can't our current military leaders stand up for its retired soldiers?


Next election veterans will remember.

 

Government Release

Proposed resolution of final SISIP class action issue could benefit 14,000 disabled Canadian Forces veterans
Additional $35 million added to resolve the Cost of Living Allowance dispute

he SISIP class action lawsuit could benefit thousands more disabled Canadian Forces veterans after the tentative settlement of the one remaining issue—the Government of Canada's calculation  of Cost of Living Allowance increases. The proposed settlement, which requires approval by the Federal Court of Canada, is projected to result in an additional $35 million in benefits to the class members.

The SISIP class action was initiated in March 2007 on behalf of representative plaintiff Dennis Manuge and all other disabled Canadian Forces veterans whose Service Income Security Insurance Plan (SISIP) Long Term Disability (LTD) benefits were reduced by the amount of their monthly Veterans Affairs Canada disability pension.

On May 1, 2012, the Federal Court ruled that this benefit reduction was not permitted by the terms of the Policy. Following the decision, the class and the federal government entered into settlement negotiations.

On April 4, 2013, the Federal Court approved an agreement between the class and the federal government, which ended the reduction going forward and provided, among other things, a refund for past reductions plus interest. The estimated total value of the settlement approved in April 2013 was $887.8 million.

During negotiations between the class and the federal government, class lawyers with McInnes Cooper identified an issue with the calculation of annual Cost of Living Allowance increases. It was agreed in the April 2013 settlement that the Cost of Living Allowance issue would be resolved at a later date, either by settlement or a Court decision.

The proposed settlement to resolve the improper calculation of annual Cost of Living Allowance increase is projected to result in an additional $35 million in benefits to the class.

Along with the proposed financial settlement, the class will expand from the original 8,000 members to 14,000 members. The additional 6,000 class members are disabled Canadian Forces veterans who receive long term disability benefits, but those benefits had not been reduced by a Veterans Affairs Canada benefit.

"I'm pleased that this final issue has been resolved and disabled members will receive some added assistance as a result of this case," said Manuge. "McInnes Cooper has continued to look out for us, disabled Canadian Forces veterans, right down to checking what should be straight forward math."

As a result of the proposed settlement, class members will receive 74% of the benefits that they would have received if, following legal proceedings, the Federal Court decided to apply McInnes Cooper's interpretation, plus reasonable interest rates. The settlement provides a refund back to the inception of the SISIP LTD Policy in 1971.

The class is represented by Peter Driscoll and Daniel Wallace of McInnes Cooper and Ward Branch of Branch MacMaster.

"From the outset of the SISIP class-action our legal team said that we will leave no vet behind and we are committed to seeing that through," said Wallace. "We continue to review all elements related to SISIP to ensure Canadian Forces veterans receive what they rightfully deserve."

Class counsel has requested that the April 2013 Federal Court approved legal fees of 8% also be applied to this most recent settlement.

The form of settlement notice will be sent to the class members for their review and materials also will be available on www.leavenovetbehind.ca. The settlement approval hearing is scheduled to be heard in the Federal Court in Halifax on June 20, 2014.

 

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