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

A past extreme weather response shelter set up for women inside Surrey’s Nightshift Street Ministries. (Photo: Chris Paul/nightshiftministries.org)
Homeless people in Surrey face ‘shocking and scary’ scenario this winter

Last winter there were nine Extreme Weather Response shelters in all of Surrey and White Rock. So far, during this pandemic, there are only five lined up for the coming winter

File photo
Surrey Mounties seeking dash-cam footage of Whalley road rage fight

Two men are alleged to have stabbed one another

The RCMP helicopter. (File photo)
Suspect escapes after police pursuit through Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford

Police chase involved two stolen vehicles, including one taken in Mission

IIO Chief Civilian Director Ron MacDonald. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Police watchdog concludes Mounties didn’t shoot Fleetwood teen at strip mall

IIO finds tragic death of teenager ‘not the result of any actions or inactions’ by the Surrey RCMP

Emergency crews shut down White Rock’s Five Corners district on Feb. 19, 2020 after an altercation left an elderly man in critical condition. (File photo)
Trial dates set in White Rock manslaughter case

Proceedings against Ross Banner, 71, set for June 2021 in Surrey Provincial Court

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Most Read