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Is Veterans Affairs Canada Targeting This Family?

Posted: 11/23/2012 2:35 pm

The brother of a veteran suing Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) for millions says his personal records were accessed by department staff without his permission.

Retired Corporal Dennis Manuge is the driving force behind the SISIP class action lawsuit over pension clawbacks. The suit is now under settlement negotiations and could cost government in excess of $600 million. Last year, Manuge revealed that, in 2009, the Minister of Veterans Affairs was briefed on private details of his medical conditions and finances.

Now, the former mechanic with the Royal Canadian Regiment says VAC also breached the privacy of his brother, Anthony.

Documents obtained by this reporter show that between 2008 and 2009, Veterans Affairs staff simultaneously accessed the brothers' records 10 different times. Those records included financial benefits, medical claims, service records and all of his dealings with VAC.

"Absolutely my privacy was violated," said Dennis Manuge, "The lists of accesses and the timings with me and my brother's... no such thing as a coincidence."

Retired Corporal Anthony Manuge is a former armoured vehicle driver from Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. Records show no work being done on his VAC file between 2005 and 2010 -- he had no active claims and was not in receipt of benefits. Despite that, Anthony's records were accessed on a number of occasions in 2008 and 2009.

Access details reveal that Dennis' file was read at the same times, by the same individuals.

Those responsible for the breaches include a records clerk for the Ontario region as well as a number of individuals at VAC headquarters in Charlottetown, including a work-term student, clerical staff, and an area counsellor. Phone calls to Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney were not returned.

In addition to not receiving benefits at that time, Anthony notes, "I was living in Fort Frances, Ontario, so no one from Atlantic Region should have had any interest in me."

Louise Bird, the Ministerial Inquiries Officer in Ottawa, also read the brothers' files. Neither Anthony nor Dennis had requested a Ministerial review, nor had they authorized the Ministry to access their records. Yet Bird did just that: Dennis in January 2009 and Anthony in June 2011.

Anthony believes the violations were connected to the SISIP lawsuit: "In 2008-2009," he said, "the Government was trying to de-certify the class." Dennis had launched the lawsuit in 2007 and, in 2008, testified at Senate Hearings into the matter. (The Supreme Court of Canada would later re-instate the case as a class-action after it had been de-certified by the Federal Court of Appeal.)

Since 2008, both have had problems with their benefits. Dennis experienced delays in reimbursement of expenses and issues with applying for programs. "A case manager could not tell me if I was eligible under the New [Veterans] Charter, told me no one in VAC could answer my questions," Dennis said, "[But] five minutes after I had my new case manager, I was approved for the Rehab program and the Earnings Loss Benefit. Coincidence? My new case manager has changed our lives for the positive, I might add."

Asked if he has experienced difficulties obtaining his entitlements since the privacy violations, Anthony replied, "From the initial decision and the subsequent VRAB appeal hearing there [has been] negligence in the processing of my claim. Everything from not getting the years of service right -- even though I sent copies of all three of my certificates of service -- to libel in the Veterans Review and Appeal Board. The advocate presently assigned to my case cannot even meet a commitment to get documentation to me."

Dennis fears that revenge for his advocacy is being directed at Anthony: "With our last name he may never get a fair shake."

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  • A member of the armed forces forms inspects wreaths ahead of a Remembrance Day dawn service at Prospect Cemetery in Toronto, on Sunday November 11, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

  • People gather around the war monument during a Remembrance Day ceremony in downtown St. John's, NL, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

  • Veterans salute as they take part in the National Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa Sunday, November 11, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

  • The Canadian flag is lowered to half mast during a Remembrance Day dawn service at Prospect Cemetery in Toronto, on Sunday November 11, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper walks with Hong Kong Veteran Arthur Kenneth Pifher, 91, of Grimsby, Ont., as they take part in a Remembrance Day ceremony at Sai Wan War Cemetery in Hong Kong on Sunday, November 11, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

  • A wreath sits infront of a military gravestone in the National Military cemetary in Ottawa, Friday November 9, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

  • Service medals are seen on Australian retired General Peter Congrove, of NSW Centenary of Anzac Advisory Council Chair, during the Remembrance Day ceremony held at the cenotaph in Sydney on November 11, 2012. Remembrance Day marks the anniversary of the armistice which ended the First World War (1914–18) and in memory of those who died or suffered in wars and armed conflicts. AFP PHOTO/ROSLAN RAHMAN (Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A woman places a poppy flower on the cenotaph during Remembrance Day in Sydney on November 11, 2012. Remembrance Day marks the anniversary of the armistice which ended the First World War (1914–18) and in memory of those who died or suffered in wars and armed conflicts. AFP PHOTO/ROSLAN RAHMAN (Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Wooden crosses bearing pictures of fallen servicemen and women and messages from their loved ones are planted in a memorial field at Saltwell Park in Gateshead, north-east England, on October 29, 2012 ahead of Remembrance Day (Armistice Day) on November 11. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Wooden crosses bearing pictures of fallen servicemen and women and messages from their loved ones are planted in a memorial field at Saltwell Park in Gateshead, north-east England, on October 29, 2012 ahead of Remembrance Day (Armistice Day) on November 11. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • An Israeli soldier stands in front of a wall of names memorial to fallen soldiers at the Armored Corps memorial, following a ceremony to mark Remembrance Day, or Memorial Day at Latrun Junction, near Jerusalem on April 25, 2012. Remembrance Day is followed immediately by the 61st anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel. AFP PHOTO/JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

  • King Albert II of Belgium salutes during the commemoration of World War I (1914-1918), commonly known as Remembrance Day, at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in Brussels, on November 11, 2012. AFP PHOTO / BELGA / BENOIT DOPPAGNE (Photo credit should read BENOIT DOPPAGNE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 11: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall meets with New Zealand war veteran Staff Sgt Kirsty Meynell after the Armistice Day Commemoration at the Auckland War Memorial on November 11, 2012 in Auckland, New Zealand. The Royal couple are in New Zealand on the last leg of a Diamond Jubilee that takes in Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand. (Photo by Ross Setford-Pool/Getty Images)

  • A US citizen carries wreath as he walks past walls where 36,286 names of missing are inscribed at the US cemetery and memorial during the Veterans Day memorial in Manila on November 11, 2012. The US cemetery contains the remains of 16,631 Americans who died in the Pacific, China,India, and Burma theaters of war. AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 11: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales greets war veterans and members of the public following Armistice Day commemorations at the Auckland War Memorial Museum on November 11, 2012 in Auckland, New Zealand. The Royal couple have arrived in New Zealand on the last leg of a Diamond Jubilee that takes in Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

  • A US soldier carrying the US national flag stands at attention during the Veteran's Day commemoration at the US cemetery in Manila on November 11, 2012. The US cemetery contains the remains of 16,631 US citizens who died in the Pacific, China, India, and Burma theaters of war. AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Chelsea Pensioners march past the Cenotaph during Remembrance Sunday service in Whitehall, Central London, on November 11, 2012. Services are held annually across Commonwealth countries during Remembrance Day to commemorate servicemen and women who have fallen in the line of duty since World War I. AFP PHOTO/CARL COURT (Photo credit should read CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images)

  • FORT WILLIAM, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 11: Servicemen and women join veterans as they attend a remembrance Sunday ceremony at Commando Memorial on November 11, 2012 in Spean Bridge, Scotland. Remembrance Sunday tributes were carried out across the nation to pay respects to all who those who lost their lives in current and past conflicts, including the First and Second World War . (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 11: King Albert II of Belgium meets with war veterans during a tribute to the unknown soldier on November 11, 2012 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Renders/Getty Images)

 

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