- Feb 8, 2007
- Land of Swine and Maple Syrup
We are all watching this very closely and hoping for a positive outcome.
Here is the background from the DND/CF Ombudsman's site.
Injured military, RCMP officers win right to sue Ottawa in class action
Last Updated: Friday, June 6, 2008 | 1:58 PM AT Comments13Recommend6
Workers hurt on the job while serving in the Canadian military and the RCMP have joined forces in a class action lawsuit against their former employer, who they say wrongly clawed back pension money.
Lawyers, who made the announcement Friday in Halifax, said the federal government owes hundreds of millions of dollars in pension money that it clawed back from their clients.
The class action suit began with one soldier, Dennis Manuge, who sued the government for clawing back pension money after he was awarded a disability allowance.
Manuge was a heavy mechanic who broke his back when he fell off a big vehicle he was working on.
He recently won a court case that allows him to pursue his claim as a class action suit.
Peter Driscoll, one of his lawyers, said that was an important decision in the legal battle.
"The effect of that decision can't be underestimated," Driscoll said. "It changed the litigation from one man versus the government of Canada claiming the return of $10,000, to a claim involving 4,300 disabled veterans for compensation that is estimated to be in the range of $200 to $300 million."
Manuge's legal victory has also spawned the possibility of a whole new round of claims from injured RCMP officers.
Disabled since 1993
"Today we have filed a similar action on behalf of Gerry Buote, a disabled former member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Unfortunately, Gerry can't join us today. He has been totally and permanently disabled since 1993," Driscoll said.
Buote, 50, of Summerside, Prince Edward Island, was injured during a confrontation with a drunk driver.
He began receiving disability benefits in 1997, but said that hundreds of dollars were deducted from each cheque. He estimates he's owed more than $140,000 and believes hundreds of other former Mounties are in the same situation.
While Driscoll said Buote is the first Mountie to make a claim, he expects many others to join in as the fight goes forward.
Here is the background from the DND/CF Ombudsman's site.
Reimburse Disabled Members: Military Ombudsman
OTTAWA (October 30, 2003) – Military ombudsman André Marin recommended that immediate steps be taken to end the clawbacks from ill or injured soldiers receiving insurance payments. In a report released today, he urges that benefits received under the Pension Act should not affect the amount of the long term disability cheques these soldiers are eligible for.
“Soldiers should not arbitrarily lose financial benefits after dedicating their lives to service for this country,” Marin says.
After receiving over 50 complaints regarding the Service Income Security Insurance Plan (SISIP) that serves members of the Canadian Forces (CF), Marin launched an investigation into the fairness of these clawbacks. The purpose of SISIP long term disability (LTD) insurance is to provide CF members with replacement income if they become disabled and are released from the CF.
Following discussions with former members who had approached his office, it was discovered that the clawbacks from the LTD cheques were due to “other income” the individuals were receiving, such as benefits under the Pension Act. The former CF members were having their LTD cheques reduced by the amount of these other benefits. They felt this was unfair for many reasons. First, their serving counterparts who were receiving Pension Act benefits were not having their salaries reduced. Secondly, the former members indicated that benefits are in fact not considered taxable because they are compensation for a disability related to military service.
After investigating the circumstances surrounding the complaints, Marin issued a recommendation that all the necessary steps be taken to ensure that SISIP long term disability benefits are not reduced by the amount of disability pensions former members are awarded under the Pension Act. Furthermore, he recommended that individuals who previously had their benefits reduced be reimbursed retroactive to October 27, 2000.
Though this amendment will cost the government more, Marin sees this being beneficial in the long run. “In my view, this additional cost is justified in light of the sacrifices and risks incurred by CF members in providing an invaluable service to Canadian society. The government has an obligation to look after them when they become ill or injured as a result and cannot continue to serve. The current regime treats military members as second class citizens.”
Marin stated that the Minister of National Defence, John McCallum, has reviewed the report and agrees with all of the recommendations. “We are happy to say that the Minister sees the fairness behind the recommendations and we are thankful for his support.”
The Ombudsman has noticed that many members calling his Office do not have a clear understanding of what benefits they can expect to receive from SISIP. Therefore, he made additional recommendations in his report, Unfair Deductions From SISIP Payments to Former CF Members. They are for SISIP to make documents regarding the policies of the plan more readily accessible, for the CF to routinely inform members of the benefits and limitations of their insurance plan, and to assign an officer to all CF bases, wings and formations to act as a resource person for SISIP related benefit inquiries and appeals.
The report is available online
Office of the Ombudsman
Tel.: (613) 992-6962