Dennis Manuge on the Pension For Life (PFL)

There is a great deal of stress and anxiety among the Canadian Veterans’ Community right now due to the roll out of the Pension For Life (PFL) by Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC). All the changes to benefits, names, taxation status, and the discontinuing of some benefits are making many of us very nervous because none of us know what our financial situation will look like at the end of April 2019, as compared to today. Social Media is very busy with concerned veterans weighing in. We have no idea what to expect despite VAC’s pitiful attempts at educating us. We received phone calls from staff who could not answer even the most basic of questions, a cookie cutter approach, if you will, and letters that did nothing further to explain anything. We (Canadian Veterans) have no idea what will be deposited into our bank accounts next month. We have no new financial benefits calculations sheets yet showing our new numbers (income) starting next month. 

This is really feeling like government-inflicted harm to me. VAC has done nothing to alleviate my bewilderment, confusion, doubts, and anxiety about my and my families’ financial well-being. Talk about a stress grenade lobbed into the lives of disabled veterans. Many of us suffer from PTSD, depression and anxiety. Of note, our caregivers and spouses are also directly impacted by this callus and insensitive rollout; possibly more so, as they have to watch us veterans try to cope with this mess while managing their own feelings and concerns. 


Section 7 – Life, liberty and security of person

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

“ …There is the right to security of the person, which consists of rights to privacy of the body and its health[9] and of the right protecting the “psychological integrity” of an individual. That is, the right protects against significant government-inflicted harm (stress) to the mental state of the individual. (Blencoe v British Columbia (Human Rights Commission), 2000) “


This PFL fiasco makes the roll out of the New Veterans Charter in 2006 look like a walk in the park. In my opinion, VAC has compromised my psychological integrity and breached my charter-protected rights. I hope to we don’t lose people to suicide over this PFL rollout and the stress it has caused many of us.

Dennis Manuge
Disabled Canadian Forces Veteran (Former Yugoslavia)
Representative Plaintiff, Manuge Vs Her Majesty The Queen x2
Musquodoboit Harbour, NS

References:
1. Government of Canada; guide to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
2. Wikipedia


A Message from Dennis Manuge

Dear Veterans and Family Members:

Wishing you a wonderful and happy new year! I am hopeful that the VLAF will enable vets and our families to pursue justice within the legal system, and enhance our lives while standing up for ourselves and others.

Access to justice is an important aspect of being a Canadian, and the positive legacy of the SISIP LTD Class Action can inspire others and encourage all Canadians to stand proud, while utilizing legal resources that otherwise might not be available.

One person can make a difference and promote a ripple effect than can positively impact many others.

Warm regards,
Dennis Manuge
Lead Plaintiff, SISIP LTD Class Action

Dennis and Dex

A Warm Welcome

Welcome to the Veterans Legal Assistance Foundation (“VLAF”) website. We hope this is a place where Canadian veterans – as well as their families and their lawyers – will visit to apply for funding or simply to stay current on veterans’ rights.  

While the website is new, the fund was announced in 2013 in conjunction with the SISIP LTD Class Action settlement, and made official when the VLAF was established on January 15, 2016. A donation of $1 million was made by firms that received fees in the settlement – McInnes Cooper and Branch MacMaster. 

Since then, the foundation has helped many veterans pursue their claims. Now the VLAF wants to do more by communicating with veterans and their communities, and by raising additional funds to ensure even more support is possible. 

If you are a veteran who needs legal help with your claim for benefits, or a lawyer prepared to assist such veterans, the VLAF is here to help. Click To Tweet

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Sandra Goodwin
Executive Director, VLAF

Honouring “Leave No Vet Behind”

“We are the veterans affected by the SISIP claw back. We are their friends, family and supporters.” 

This statement sat quietly but strongly on the LeaveNoVetBehind website for years. LeaveNoVetBehind was a mass movement to support veterans who were wrongly affected by the SISIP long term disability claw back.

More than 7,500 medically released disabled veterans had their long term disability income replacement payments reduced by the value of their pain and suffering disability pension. This meant that the most disabled veterans received very little or nothing from the SISIP plan, which they had paid into their entire career. It was an insult to our veterans and an embarrassment to Canada.

A Class Action was initiated in March of 2007 on behalf of Dennis Manuge and all other disabled veterans whose SISIP long term disability (LTD) Benefits were reduced by the amount of the VAC Disability Pension they received under the Pension Act. The Government had taken the position that it would see our veterans in court. 

On May 1, 2012, the Federal Court of Canada ruled that the Government of Canada acted illegally in making deductions from veterans’ long term disability benefits. The veterans had won this historic case.

Canada’s disabled veterans counted on the voices of many supporters. The purpose of LeaveNoVetBehind was to provide a website where a supporter from any walk of life, whether disabled veteran, soldier, family member, concerned citizen, political candidate, or member of parliament, could support disabled veterans by taking action or pledging support.

We want to honour the legacy of LeaveNoVetBehind by picking up the baton through the Veterans Legal Assistance Foundation.

The success of the SISIP LTD Class Action is an example of the good work that can be done when veterans have access to justice. But there is more work to do.

Many veterans – both from the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP – continue to have legal difficulties with their important claims. They need a voice, and they need legal support. That’s where the VLAF steps in. With the support of community partners and generous donors, we can ensure that the funding allocated to the VLAF can grow to ensure more veterans have their cases heard. We will be grateful for your support. 

“They have listened to Canada’s disabled veterans, and clearly they wanted to do the right thing.”

Dennis Manuge
May 29, 2012
Lead Plaintiff, SISIP LTD Class Action

The VLAF is a charitable organization that supports access to justice for Canadian veterans – it was established to provide Canada’s veterans funding to help reduce the burden of legal fees associated with proceedings before administrative tribunals and courts. 

by Sandra Goodwin (with files from LeaveNoVetBehind.ca)