Thursday December 23, 2010
Gov't Acts On Veterans Concerns
Agent Orange eligibility expanded
Submitted by Robert Pearsall, Asst. to Chuck Strahl
xpanding eligibility for the Agent Orange ex gratia payment is further proof that the Government continues to listen to the concerns raised by veterans said Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP, Chuck Strahl.
"We have heard the public's concerns
and have taken the necessary steps to ensure more individuals are eligible for
payment." Strahl added, "While no other government has addressed this issue
previously, we have taken compassionate action."
Announced by the Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Veterans Affairs, the deadline for submitting an application for the Agent Orange ex gratia payment has been extended to June 30, 2011.
The Government is no longer requiring applicants to be alive as of February 6, 2006. This will allow more primary caregivers to apply on behalf of a loved one who died before the ex gratia payment came into place.
People will also have until June 30, 2011 to obtain a relevant medical diagnosis. They will no longer have to prove that they were expecting their medical diagnosis before February 6, 2006.
It is estimated that these changes will allow approximately 1,140 additional people to receive the ex gratia payment, for a total of approximately $24 million. Previous applicants declined will be contacted by the Department.
"On behalf of the Agent Orange Association of Canada Inc., I would like to take this opportunity to thank Minister Blackburn and his government for extending and changing the Agent Orange ex gratia program. I believe that we are moving in the right direction in supporting our Veterans and civilians who were exposed to Agent Orange and other toxic herbicides at CFB Base Gagetown but we also must continue to work together," said Carol Brown Parker, Co-President Agent Orange Association of Canada Inc.
The one-time, tax-free ex gratia payment of $20,000 is related to the testing of unregistered U.S. military herbicides, including Agent Orange, at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in New Brunswick during the summers of 1966 and 1967.
To date, a total of 3,137 applicants have received the tax-free, ex gratia payment, for a total payout of $62.7 million.
For more information, visit the Veterans Affairs Canada Web site at www.vac-acc.gc.ca or call 1-866-522-2122.
© Copyright (c) 2010 The Valley Voice