Some disabled veterans to receive less financial support under Liberal plan: PBO


OTTAWA — While most disabled veterans will see a small boost in financial support when the Trudeau government implements a new pension system in April, a new analysis shows some of the most severely injured will end up with less than under the current system.

And the financial benefits available for all under the Liberals’ pension plan will fall far short of those provided to veterans before the federal government replaced a long-standing disability pension with the current system in 2006.

Those are among the findings of a new study by Canada’s parliamentary budget officer, which comes about a month before the new Pension for Life is implemented and amid anger about the system within the veterans community.

The federal Liberals had promised during the last election to reinstate lifelong disability pensions after many veterans complained the lump-sum payment and other benefits that replaced it was far less generous.

While that was widely interpreted as bringing back the pre-2006 pension system, the Trudeau government instead introduced its own version, which will come into effect on April 1.

That version has been blasted by many veterans as a betrayal of the Liberals’ original commitment.

In his analysis released Thursday, parliamentary budget officer Yves Giroux confirmed what many veterans have alleged: that the Liberals’ Pension for Life doesn’t offer the same level of support as the pre-2006 Pension Act.

“From the perspective of the veteran, virtually all clients would be better off if they were to receive the benefits of the Pension Act,” reads the report released Thursday.

Exactly how big is the difference? The report says disabled veterans would have received on average 24 per cent more with the pre-2006 pension than the Liberals’ new plan.

Giroux did find that most veterans will see a six-per-cent increase in financial support under the Pension for Life than the current system, which was implemented with all-party support in 2006.

But about five per cent of veterans who apply for benefits after April 1, when the new system comes into effect, will actually receive less under the new system — notably the most severely injured.

That is because the government did away with a monthly, lifelong benefit designed to compensate those veterans whose service-related injury or illness prevents them from being able to work.

The change only affects veterans who apply for benefits after April 1, when the new system comes into effect.

While the budget watchdog found that the current system and the Liberals’ Pension for Life are less generous for disabled veterans than the pre-2006 pension system, they are also far less expensive.

The government would end up paying $40 billion to provide pre-2006 pensions for all current veterans, compared to $22 billion under the current system and $25 billion under the Pension for Life.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press