Aaron Bedard, one of the plaintiffs in the Equitas Society’s class-action lawsuit, participated in the society’s Inaugural Walk For Veterans in Burnaby in October 2017. (File photo)

Ottawa proposes $100M class-action settlement for disabled vets

The Liberals have agreed to pay $100 million to settle a four-year legal battle with disabled veterans

The federal government has agreed to pay $100 million to settle a four-year legal battle with disabled veterans, who had launched a class-action lawsuit after some of their financial benefits clawed back.

The settlement, which must still be approved by the Federal Court, would provide more than 12,000 of veterans with payments of between $2,000 and $50,000 depending on when they served and the severity of their disabilities.

It is the latest in what could be a string of such settlements as the Liberals have indicated that they plan to resolve several other class-action lawsuits brought forward by current and retired military personnel.

“I believe the proposed settlement is fair and provides both sides with needed closure,” Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan said in a statement announcing the agreement in principle.

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

RELATED: Supreme Court of Canada won’t hear B.C. veterans’ lawsuit on pensions

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.

A Federal Court hearing is scheduled for December, where the government and lawyers representing the veterans are expected to ask for the settlement to be approved.

The settlement represents the latest win for veterans and military personnel after several previous proposed class-action lawsuits were similarly resolved before reaching trial, most notably an $887-million agreement in 2013 for military pension clawbacks.

The Liberals also ordered government lawyers in February to launch settlement talks for three proposed class-action lawsuits filed by former Canadian Forces members who say they experienced harassment and discrimination while in uniform.

Yet the community also suffered a devastating loss last month when the Supreme Court opted not to hear an appeal brought by a group of disabled veterans called the Equitas Society, who were fighting the Liberals to bring back lifelong disability pensions.

RELATED: Critics urge Ottawa to clear backlog of disabled veterans

Those pensions were abolished in 2006 and replaced by a lump-sum payment and career-training assistance, much to the chagrin of the Equitas members and other veterans, who said it provided significantly less financial compensation than the old system.

The Liberals have promised their own pension plan, which comes into effect next year, but the Equitas members and others have complained that it also falls far short.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Castlegar’s Stanley Humphries School’s got talent

Talent show to be held Feb. 21 at Brilliant Cultural Centre

What’s Up: Things to see and do on Family Day

There’s plenty of fun to be had across the West Kootenay this coming long weekend!

Province announces $23 million for upgrades at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital

West Kootenay-Boundary Regional Hospital District Board has yet to review the provincial proposal

Selkirk College Saints score pair of crucial wins

Stellar goaltending and timely goals lead to victory over the Vancouver Island University Mariners.

UPDATE: Two-car accident closes Highway 3A at Thrums

Road expected to open for single-lane alternating traffic at 2 p.m.

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Ammonia leak shuts down curling club in Nelson

It’s not yet clear when the leak was detected

Pavelski’s 31st goal helps Sharks top Canucks 3-2

Vancouver one point out of second NHL wild-card spot

Cadets converge in Castlegar for sports weekend

East Meets West Sports and Fitness weekend for Air Cadets was held recently at Selkirk College.

OPINION: Faith Foundations columnist Pastor Tom Kline looks at real love.

Faith Foundations columnist Pastor Tom Kline looks at real love.

East Kootenay illicit drug overdose deaths lowest in B.C.

Local expert credits harm reduction efforts; declares support for legalization of opioids

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Most Read