NEWS

Disabled veterans in court fighting federal government on benefits

12/03/2014 03:30 EST | Updated 02/02/2015 05:59 EST
A group of military veterans is battling it out once again, but this time they're in the courtroom rather than in a war zone.

Earlier the group won the right in a B.C. courtroom to sue the federal government. They want to restore a program that guaranteed life-long disability payments for injured veterans.

The federal government is now in front of the B.C. Court of Appeal, trying to get the case tossed out.

It argues it has every right to change the way it administers benefits to Canadians. Government lawyers say past promises to veterans don't override Parliament's authority to change programs as it sees fit.

The challenge to the federal government is being mounted by a small group called Equitas, which was formed in 2011 to lobby for veterans and restore the old monthly disability payment system.

For many decades, an injured war veteran from Canada received a pension for life. But since the implementation of the New Veterans Charter in 2006, the monthly disability payments were replaced with a one-time payment to a maximum of $276,089.

According to the Veterans Affairs Canada website, the revised charter "shifts the focus from a lifetime of disability to encouraging ‘wellness.’"

Some veterans advocates have warned of the danger of giving large lump-sum payments to veterans still suffering from post traumatic stress or other war related disabilities.

They fear the money might be wasted, especially if the vet has substance abuse issues, and argue it's more secure to give disabled vets a steady monthly payment.

Arguments in the appeal are scheduled to wrap up tomorrow.

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