The New Veterans Charter (NVC) was designed to meet the needs of today’s Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), including members of the Regular and Reserve Forces. It was created to help Veterans and their families.
Through the NVC, Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) has programs in place to assist eligible reservists who are injured or become ill resulting primarily from their service in the CAF and, in some cases, to assist them in finding civilian employment. Today’s announcement focused on VAC’s Earnings Loss (EL) Benefit, which provides income support for Veterans with service-related injuries while they are participating in VAC’s Rehabilitation Program or who are unable to be suitably employed.
Our Government pledged to address the benefits available to part-time Reserve Force Veterans. This was also the recommendation of the Veterans Ombudsman and the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. Currently, part-time Reserve Force Veterans in receipt of the Earnings Loss (EL) Benefit are eligible for monthly benefits totaling $24,300 annually.
Beginning in April 2015, all Veterans of the Reserve Force who are eligible for the Earnings Loss Benefit would receive a minimum income of $42,426. This is the same minimum amount a Regular Force Veteran would receive through EL and is set at 75% of a basic corporal’s salary.
It is estimated that by 2020, approximately 290 part-time Reserve Force Veterans could receive this increased income each year. Survivors of part-time Reserve Force Veterans who died as a result of service would also benefit from this change, as well as eligible Veterans who are also receiving benefits through the Service Income Security Insurance Plan provided by the Department of National Defence.
Corporal M was a part-time (Class A) reservist who was injured in a training exercise. He suffered severe, disabling injuries as a result of the accident. He spent several months in hospital undergoing extensive rehabilitation. Corporal M applied to Veterans Affairs Canada for a disability award and was assessed with a 70% disability.
Due to his disabling injuries, Corporal M was medically released in 2014 and applied to VAC for Rehabilitation and Earnings Loss (EL) benefits. Corporal M was granted eligibility for the VAC Rehabilitation Program and EL in June 2014. He is currently eligible for $2,025 in EL per month ($24,300 per year) before offsets. Corporal M will maintain eligibility for EL until he completes the Rehabilitation Program, or, if it is determined that he will never return to suitable employment due to his injuries, he will receive his ELB until age 65.
With the proposed change, Corporal M will see his EL increase to match the EL rate for Regular Force Veterans. His EL will increase from $2,025/month to $3,535/month (or from $24,300/year to $42,426/year).
While enhancing benefits for part-time reservists is the focus of today’s announcement, it must be viewed as part of a spectrum of services and supports available to Veterans. Reserve Force Veterans who are injured as a result of military service—regardless of rank or class—have access to other benefits from VAC such as treatment benefits, the Veterans Independence Program (VIP), Career Transition Services, financial benefits and disability benefits.