Six veterans fighting the federal government on behalf of all injured veterans faced a major setback on Monday after the B.C. Court of Appeal struck down the veterans’ claim in its entirety.
“We were surprised and dumbfounded,” said Aaron Bedard, lead-plaintiff in the case, about Monday’s decision.
The veterans part of this so-called Equitas Case are fighting for the government to return the Pension Act to receive a pension for life. Currently, under the New Veterans Charter (NVC), veterans are given a lump sum amount.
It’s taken nearly a year and a half for the court to hand down its decision on this case.
The Class Action Lawsuit for disabled soldiers receiving lower settlements under the NVC was first filed in the B.C. Supreme Court on Oct. 30, 2012, against the Harper government, who introduced the NVC.
In 2015, the case was taken off the docket as both parties reached a sort of an agreement to postpone the case until after the elections. That agreement expired in May 2016 and the government and the Equitas veterans once again returned to court. They’ve been waiting ever since for a decision.
Maj. (ret’d) Mark Campbell, an Afghan Veteran, and plaintiff in the case, looks at the timing of this decision with a suspicious eye.
“The timing is rather interesting given that the government has committed itself to divulging details of its plans for our lifelong disability pensions. The timing is rather suspect in my view. The fact that the government is under a tight deadline now to say something before the Christmas recess, something meaningful to tell us something about the direction they’re going to go with this so-call return to lifetime disability pensions,” said Campbell.
According to Campbell, however, the fight is not over yet. The Equitas veterans will discuss whether they wish to pursue legal means, including possibly going to the Supreme Court of Canada.
“We have to consult with the other four representative plaintiffs to determine whether or not we’re going to go down that particular road and continue the legal battle,” noted Campbell.
They will also continue to advocate and create awareness, to sway the court of public opinion.
The Equitas Veterans plan on holding a series of walks in major cities across Canada next summer to raise awareness.
“That’s one way we intend to coalesce support of the fractured veteran community, and at the same time garner continued support for our aims,” stated Campbell.
Since 2012, the Equitas veterans have been arguing that the government has a sacred obligation, a “social contract,” to provide fair compensation to those that served their country. A point-of-view the Liberal government adopted in their party platform during election season.