Federal Court of Canada rules clawback of disabled Veterans pension illegal
HALIFAX, May 1, 2012
HALIFAX, May 1, 2012 /CNW/ - After over five years of legal struggle,
Canada's disabled veterans received a favourable decision from the
Federal Court of Canada in their class action lawsuit against the
Government of Canada.
Canadian veteran and lead plaintiff Dennis Manuge addressed media in
Halifax today and expressed his pleasure with the favourable ruling.
"On behalf of Canada's disabled veterans, we are very pleased with this
decision," said Mr. Manuge. "I now expect the Government of Canada to
do the right thing—accept the Federal Court of Canada's decision and
move quickly to implement it."
The Class Action was initiated in March of 2007 on behalf Dennis Manuge
and all other disabled veterans whose SISIP Long Term Disability
Benefits are reduced by the amount of the monthly VAC (Veterans Affairs
Canada) Disability Pension they receive under the Pension Act. The
Class has more than 4,500 members.
"These soldiers have fought long enough—on the battlefield, before the
ombudsmen, before the House of Commons and the Senate, and now before
the courts," said Peter Driscoll, lead counsel, McInnes Cooper. " It is
time to put an end to this war."
The Honourable Mr. Justice Robert Barnes, in his decision wrote the
Para  Giving effect to the SISIP offset of Pension Act disability
benefits wholly deprives disabled veterans of an important financial
award intended to compensate for disabling injuries suffered in the
service of Canadians. The SISIP offset effectively defeats the
Parliamentary intent that is inherent in the Pension Act which is to
provide modest financial solace to disabled CF members for their
non-financial losses. The approach adopted by the Defendant does not
lead to a fair or sensible commercial result and defeats the reasonable
expectation of CF members. CF members looking at the SISIP Policy and,
in particular Article 24, would expect that they were obtaining a
meaningful and not illusory LTD benefit payable over and above their
Pension Act disability entitlement for the loss of personal amenities.
This view is enhanced by the fact that disabled CF members who continue
with their active service are entitled to be paid and to keep their
Pension Act disability benefits and by the fact that they lose their
right of action against the Crown to pursue claims to damages
(including income losses) if a Pension Act benefit is payable: see
Crown Liability and Proceedings Act, RSC 1985, c C-50, s 9. The
practical consequence of the claimed offset is to substantially reduce
or to extinguish the LTD coverage promised to members of the Class by
the SISIP Policy with particularly harsh effect on the most seriously
disabled CF members who have been released from active service. That is
an outcome that could not reasonably have been intended and I reject it
"This has been a very difficult experience for Canada's disable veterans
on a personal, emotional and financial level," said Mr. Manuge. "The
Government of Canada has been illegally taking advantage of Canada's
disabled veterans for far too long. Today's decision by the Federal
Court provides hope for Canada's disabled veterans."
The Government of Canada has a moral, ethical and now a legal obligation
to move quickly to implement this Federal Court decision.
"This ruling is a signal for the Government of Canada to stop illegally
taking money away from Canada's disabled veterans and stop any legal
action against disabled veterans who cannot afford to hand over more
money," said Mr. Driscoll. "This is the time to start treating Canada's
veterans with the honour and dignity they deserve."