When former grasp corporal Charles Scott left the military in 2008, a notice was scribbled in his Veterans Affairs file warning that he confronted a important threat of creating post-traumatic stress dysfunction.
The warning was by no means adopted up on by the division; nobody ever contacted him about it and nobody ever organized for therapy. Scott himself did not know in regards to the evaluation till greater than a decade later, after he utilized underneath privateness regulation to see his file — and several other years after he had sought therapy for PTSD on his personal.
It would not be the final time the previous fight soldier and armed forces intelligence operative, who served with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Gentle Infantry in Bosnia and Afghanistan, fell via the cracks of the paperwork.
Scott launched a lawsuit in Federal Courtroom final month accusing Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) of negligence and of violating federal regulation (the Veterans Nicely-being Act) in its dealing with of his file.
“It provides me no pleasure to sue Canada, a rustic that I joined to serve for advantages that impression me and my very younger household,” Scott, 45, instructed CBC Information.
Scott mentioned that his Veterans Affairs case supervisor stopped returning his calls and emails within the winter of 2019, simply as the Liberal authorities was getting ready to launch its long-awaited pension-for-life plan for Canada’s former troopers.
Buried and forgotten
What Scott did not know on the time — and what it took an access-to-information request filed by him with the federal authorities to totally clarify — is that his case supervisor had been gone from the division since early 2019. Scott’s file, and presumably these of others, lay buried and forgotten within the Edmonton VAC workplace — and nobody observed till Scott known as the veterans’ disaster line in late April 2019.
“My file was deserted and never handed over,” he mentioned. “The veteran crew service supervisor in Edmonton didn’t hand over my file to a different case supervisor.”
Consequently, Scott mentioned, he missed his probability to lock within the supplementary profession substitute advantages which had been a function of Veterans Affairs’ outdated advantages system earlier than being phased out with the introduction of the present Liberal authorities’s revised system.
He was compelled to hitch the brand new system of advantages — a system that, previous to its introduction on April 1, 2019, the Parliamentary Funds Officer mentioned was much less beneficiant than the outdated system to essentially the most severely disabled veterans.
Scott’s assertion of declare would not cite a sum at this level, however he estimates the federal authorities’s error has price him as a lot as $1,000 monthly.
Scott, who labored for a number of years as a federal occupational well being and security inspector earlier than PTSD overwhelmed his life, mentioned he didn’t wish to sue the federal authorities however was left with no various.
“I’ve made each try to contact the minister of Veterans Affairs. I’ve made each try to contact members of Parliament with out success,” he mentioned.
‘It is not honest’
Critics monitoring the veterans file — like NDP MP Rachel Blaney — say Scott’s expertise matches with what they’ve heard from different veterans, and describes an overtaxed Veterans Affairs paperwork that may’t sustain with veterans’ pleas for assist.
“It is completely unacceptable,” mentioned Blaney. “We have now heard from people working at VAC they’ve loads of issues about this very factor occurring and that they are under-resourced by way of staffing to cope with these points.
“It is not honest that our veterans are those paying for the consequence of that.”
It is also an ideal illustration of what the Liberal authorities was warned about when it carried out the overhaul of veterans advantages, Blaney mentioned, including the federal government ought to have “listened extra carefully to the people who find themselves analyzing the system.”
The Liberal authorities underneath Paul Martin proposed in 2005 to exchange the decades-old system of veterans advantages underneath the Pension Act with a brand new system known as the New Veterans Constitution.
The next Conservative authorities underneath Stephen Harper adopted the constitution, then tweaked it in response to protests from veterans. The campaigning Liberals promised in 2015 to revive to veterans a selection between a pension for all times and a lump-sum fee as compensation for service-related accidents.
However earlier than the Liberal plan could possibly be carried out, Parliamentary Funds Officer Yves Giroux wrote a report warning that whereas the plan could be barely extra beneficiant than the system it changed, it nonetheless would depart many in worse monetary form they might have been underneath the outdated pre-Veterans Constitution system.
“From the attitude of the veteran, just about all shoppers could be higher off in the event that they acquired the advantages of the (pre-2006) Pension Act,” Giroux’s report says.
‘I missed out on quite a bit’
Scott is bitter.
“All of my occupational accidents and diseases are pre-2006,” he mentioned. “I missed out on the Pension Act. I missed out on these monetary companies. I missed out on quite a bit, similar to loads of different Canadians.”
VAC spokespeople will not communicate to the particulars of Scott’s case, citing privateness protections. Additionally they have not defined why Scott’s file was allowed to languish, or say what number of different troopers is likely to be affected by forgotten recordsdata.
VAC spokesperson Marc Lescoutre instructed CBC Information in an electronic mail that, usually, the division “proactively” reassigns recordsdata as required — when a case supervisor is about to retire quickly, for instance.
When a case supervisor leaves unexpectedly, or calls in sick, the on-duty case supervisor is meant to take over the supervisor’s recordsdata.
As for the issues with the division’s companies for veterans and the pension plan, one other VAC spokesperson, John Embury, issued an announcement noting that the “Pension for Life” program represented a $3.6 billion federal funding, and citing the federal government’s promise to overview how the “Pension for Life” plan is being administered.
“As directed by each the prime minister and the minister of Veterans Affairs, VAC is completely reviewing the implementation of Pension for Life, and should advocate adjustments, the place wanted, to enhance the outcomes and experiences of veterans and their households,” mentioned the assertion.