Veterans Affairs Minister Jean Pierre Blackburn has unveiled a $2-billion support package for injured military veterans that includes a minimum pre-tax income of $40,000 for those in rehabilitation and $58,000 for those with permanent impairments who can no longer work.
The money, along with other changes to the Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act, will allow wounded soldiers to "easily obtain even better support and care and ensure wounded veterans focus on rehabilitation," Blackburn said Wednesday in Ottawa.
Legislative changes will allow for the payment of an additional monthly benefit of $1,000 for life for the most seriously injured veterans and a broadening of eligibility criteria for people with disabilities and special benefits, which will include an additional 3,000 veterans, he said.
Further changes will guarantee all beneficiaries a minimum of $40,000 per year in benefits, whatever their salary was when they served in the Armed Forces, said Blackburn.
"If the legislation is adopted, on top of the lump-sum disability award, our most seriously injured veterans who are no longer able to work will receive at least $58,000 per year," he said in a release.
The government will allow wounded veterans the choice of a lump-sum payment or instalments over several years, or a combination of both. The veterans can choose the number of years they'd like to receive payments.
"The disability award is not intended to be income replacement. The disability award is intended to recognize through compensation the pain and suffering of the veteran," said Blackburn.
"So under the New Veterans Charter, there are still monthly payments for life for those who need it because of physical or physiological injuries."
Many veterans have complained that the New Veterans Charter, which came into effect in 2006, gave less money to soldiers wounded in Afghanistan than older vets have been entitled to.
In September, the government announced a series of measures to address some of the concerns of veterans and said it would spend $200 million over five years to support the most severely injured veterans.
In August, Pat Stogran, the former ombudsman for veterans, scorched the government's treatment of veterans and said that, as ombudsman, he was "impeded by a bureaucracy that was deliberately obstructive and deceptive." He also charged that information given to bureaucrats wasn't reaching the minister of veterans affairs.
An earlier version of this story said proposed federal changes would give soldiers injured on duty a minimum pre-tax income of $40,000 a year for those who can no longer work and for those in rehabilitation. In fact, the legislation would guarantee a minimum pre-tax income of $40,000 for those in rehabilitation and $58,000 for those with permanent impairments who can no longer work.Dec 17, 2010 9:50 AM ET