Aaron Bedard is one of the plaintiffs in the Equitas Society’s class-action lawsuit. (Katya Slepian/Black Press)

VIDEO: Canadian veterans fight to reinstate lifelong pensions

The battle has gone all the way to the Supreme Court

Burnaby’s Central Park was packed with people on Sunday morning, all there with one goal: to bring back lifelong pensions for veterans.

Hundreds of people had come out for the Equitas Society’s inaugural Walk for Veterans.

Since its formation in 2012, the South Surrey-White Rock based group has been advocating for the cause through a class-action lawsuit against the federal government.

WATCH: The fight for lifelong pensions

The Pension Act, which guaranteed lifelong pensions for veterans, was replaced by the New Veterans Charter in 2006.

“It replaced [lifelong pensions] with lump sum payments that ended up being disproportionally lower,” said society president Marc Burchell.

Burchell said that although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a pledge to reinstate the lifelong pensions during the 2015 federal election campaign, the lack of action has left veterans feeling betrayed.

“He has failed to keep that promise,” said Burchell.

Currently, the Canadian government is fighting the lawsuit in the B.C. Supreme Court of Appeal. If Ottawa fails to get the result it wants, it must take the case to the country’s top court.

The lawsuit has six plaintiffs, including Coquitlam veteran Aaron Bedard.

Bedard served with the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan as part of the first combat tour of Kandahar. He served for 10 years, from 2002-2010, despite a serious injury from going over an anti-tank mine just three months in.

“I hid my injuries and carried on with a traumatic brain injury and damage to my spine,” said Bedard. He returned to Canada in 2007 and was sent from doctor to doctor, but received little help.

“I started developing post-traumatic stress disorder.”

It took three years before he was released from service but according to Bedard, much of the fight remained ahead.

“Dealing with Veterans Affairs Canada was immediately adversarial,” said Bedard. He learned that he would only be getting a lump sum, which in 2010 was only $250,000.

It’s a common thread, said Burchell, that’s not helped by what he calls Veteran Affairs’ “culture of denial.”

“These men and women come back from Afghanistan and a lot of them are suffering from PTSD,” said Burchell. “They’ve been fighting [for pensions] but it’s hard for them to fight when they’re suffering from this disability.”

To learn more about the Equitas Society, visit their website.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Vancouver veteran Bob Chown came out to support the Equitas Society in Burnaby on Sunday. (Katya Slepian/Black Press)

Just Posted

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

BC Green Party leader visits Wet’suwet’en camps at heart of pipeline conflict

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada and First Nations

Another snowstorm expected for Terrace and Kitimat area

Wind is expected up to 80 km per hour

COLUMN | New year, new you: Make those changes stick

Wellness Matters by columnist Joelle McKiernan

Pilot project thins out overgrown forest location

Immediate and long term logging and environmental benefits eyed

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Canucks extend home win streak to 8 with 4-1 triumph over Sharks

Victory lifts Vancouver into top spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

Most Read