POLITICS

CFB Gagetown Agent Orange victims urged to seek compensation

12/16/2014 11:34 EST | Updated 02/15/2015 05:59 EST
NDP veterans affairs critic Peter Stoffer is encouraging all military personnel and civilians affected by defoliant spraying at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown to file a claim with Veterans Affairs Canada in light of veteran Basil McAllister's recent court victory.

Last week, the federal court ordered Veterans Affairs Canada to grant McAllister disability compensation in relation to his exposure to Agent Orange and other chemical defoliants used at the base in Oromocto, N.B., in the 1960s.

McAllister, 83, of Burton, says he has prostate cancer, which has spread to his bones. He has also had skin cancer and kidney failure and has Type 2 diabetes.

"Basil fought for almost 10 years to obtain compensation and assistance from Veterans Affairs Canada," Stoffer said during a news conference at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 6 in Moncton on Tuesday.

"He was repeatedly denied assistance but did not give up. I am proud of Basil's win on this issue," he said.

Stoffer noted the federal Conservatives failed to follow through on a 2006 campaign promise to call for a full inquiry into Agent Orange and defoliant spraying at Base Gagetown, now known as the 5th Canadian Division Support Base (5 CDSB) Gagetown.

Based on McAllister's win, all affected Canadians should file claims, he said.

"There is no excuse for this federal government to deny them their rightful compensation."

Agent Orange, a toxic herbicide, was sprayed at CFB Gagetown in 1966 and 1967 by the U.S.-military, with permission from Canada.

It's now known that exposure can lead to skin disorders, liver problems and certain types of cancers.

The Canadian government set aside almost $100 million in 2007 for Canadians harmed by defoliants at the base.

In 2011, the federal government also reversed a decision to reject compensation for dozens of soldiers and their families exposed to the defoliant who later became ill. The move came after a number of the families went public with their bureaucratic battles and the Veterans Ombudsman publicly rebuked the government for its handling of the file.