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February 18, 2020 February 18, 2020

Give veterans what they’re owed

Posted on November 15, 2018 by Lethbridge Sun Times

The federal government reportedly shortchanged 272,000 veterans on their pensions for more than eight years and now they’re saying veterans will need to wait another two years to get that money back.
That this happened is bad enough but the timing came just as we were about to recognize veterans on Remembrance Day.
We recognize their contribution, fighting for the freedom we enjoy, as the government turns its head and tells them to wait two years to get the pay they should have had going back 16 years.
The error is worth $165 million and took place between 2002 and 2010, giving lower monthly payments to 272,000 veterans. Some are veterans from the Second World War and the Korean War. Some were shortchanged up to $2,000, which is a considerable sum for someone in old age living on a limited income.
We have the ombudsman for veterans, Guy Parent, to thank for finding the error. Apparently it has taken more than a year to get the government to even admit the mistake and agree to correct it.
According to media reports the minister for Veterans Affairs has confirmed the money will be paid out but veterans will have to wait until 2020 to see any of it.
How any elected official can say something like this is mind boggling.
Just imagine filing your income tax return knowing you are required to pay $2,000 to Canada Revenue Agency. You send them a letter explaining that you’re a little short of cash or a little busy with others things so it will take you a couple years to get around to sending them a cheque. There would be no mercy. In fact, you’d be charged considerable interest and then be hounded to get the money.
What is good for government is good for the veterans who gave selflessly in service to our country. The federal government needs to make this a priority, pay this money with interest. It’s what Canadians expect.
Parent has already stated that many of the affected veterans are living on a very low income as it is.
It would be reasonable to assume some may not see 2020 and therefore will never be compensated. In fact media reports indicate that about 175,000 of the 272,000 may already have died.
It is rather strange that somehow the error in calculation was spotted in 2011 and corrected at that stage. The question needs to be asked who discovered the error then and who decided to simply say nothing and hope nobody would ever discover what had happened.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should apologize to veterans for this error and tell his Minister for Veterans Affairs that asking veterans to wait two years for payment is totally unacceptable.
An editorial from the Medicine Hat News

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