OTTAWA — The Liberal government will promise in next week's federal budget to reintroduce lifelong disability pensions for veterans. Veterans have complained bitterly about changes made by the former Conservative government of Stephen Harper. Some facts about the New Veterans Charter that the Conservatives introduced in 2006 and why veterans demanded changes:
- What is the New Veterans Charter? It was designed to help injured veterans find civilian careers, replacing the pensions with a lump-sum payment and a suite of rehabilitation and career-training services to help transition out of the military and into civilian life.
- How much can soldiers get? The maximum lump sum payment under the charter was $250,000, though it has since been increased to $360,000. The actual award depends on the extent of the injury.
- Why were veterans unhappy with the charter? Complaints about the charter started right away, and have only gathered steam. Veterans have complained about trouble accessing services and the disability award has been particularly vilified because it amounts to less financial compensation over a lifetime than a pension.
- How did the politicians react? The Liberals promised in the last election to offer the option of a disability pension alongside the disability award and other benefits offered through the New Veterans Charter. They were the only party to make such a promise, as both the Conservatives and NDP said bringing back pensions would be prohibitively expensive.