Government proposes $100 million settlement in disabled veteran’s class-action lawsuit

SUDBURY—The President of the Espanola-Manitoulin War Pensioners of Canada (WPC) is indifferent to a settlement proposed by the federal government that would provide a $100 million settlement in a disabled veterans clawback class-action.

“It sounds like a lot of money, but it isn’t when it gets divided among all the veterans who are part of this class action lawsuit against the federal government,” said Colin Pick of WPC, last week.

Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of Natural Defence the Honourable Seamus O’Regan issued a statement on September 12 regarding the settlement of a class action lawsuit brought against the Government of Canada which said: “the Government of Canada and the plaintiff Ray Toth have reached an agreement-in-principle to settle the class proceeding in Toth. vs Her Majesty the Queen, bringing the parties closer to the end of a legal action that began over four years go. The government and the plaintiffs have agreed in principle to settle this class action with an amount of $100 million inclusive of legal fees. I believe the proposed settlement is fair and provides both sides with needed closure. The settlement is subject to approval by the Federal Court.” A settlement approval hearing is set for December.

“Now that this matter may soon be behind us, the Government of Canada will continue working to better serve veterans and their families,” said Minister O’Regan. “I believe this decision shows that we intend to ensure that veterans in Canada are better off now than they were before.”

“We have already invested $10 billion of new money into services and supports for veterans, and their families, hired hundreds of new staff and opened 10 Veterans Affairs office across the country,” said Mr. O’Regan. “I look forward to continuing important discussions with Canadians in the coming weeks and months so that we can continue to build on what has been achieved to date.”

“The settlement, which is still to be approved by the federal court, would provide more than 12,000 veterans with payments of between $2,000 and $50,000 depending on when they served and the severity of their disabilities,” said Minister O’Regan.

Mr. Pick said, “I understand payments from $2,000-$50,000 would be provided. Even $50,000 is peanuts when for instance a veteran is having to deal with life after the military and is missing body parts. What the government is proposing sounds like a lot of money, but when not when it is being divided amongst so many veterans.”

The  lawsuit was launched in 2014 after the federal government clawed back financial assistance from thousands of low-income veterans because they were also receiving disability pensions for injuries sustained while in uniform.

The veterans alleged that the deductions, which took place between April 2006 and May 2012, violated their charter rights by discriminating against them because they were disabled.