Legion concerned that Veteran Disability Awards are being deducted from ODSP payments.
St. Catharines MPP Jennie Stevens said Canada’s war veterans deserve more than pomp and ceremony when Remembrance Day arrives next week.
She said veterans, particularly those who suffered debilitating injuries including the loss of a limb during their service to this country, should not be stripped of the compensation they receive from Veterans Affairs Canada, as a result of their injuries.
Nevertheless, in a letter sent to the provincial government last week, Royal Canadian Legion Ontario Command president Gary Pond said that is what is happening when Veteran Disability Awards are being clawed back from veterans who are in receipt of Ontario Disability Support Program benefits.
“If a veteran who put their life on the line serving our country and as a result lost limbs, hearing, debilitating knee injury, (and) are compensated for the loss, … the provincial government perceives this as income and claws back all funds provided for basic needs and shelter,” Pond wrote in the Oct. 28 letter.
“I humbly request that this practice stop.”
Stevens raised the issue in Queen’s Park Tuesday, asking Premier Doug Ford to “make this right today, by ending the claw back policy for disability awards in Ontario.”
“I just can’t believe that this is even happening,” she said.
The lost income, she added, can have devastating impacts on military veterans.
“It’s so important that these individuals, these veterans that have fought for our country do not become homeless or fear that they won’t have shelter. There’s no reason why these veterans should feel that they’re going to lose their home or be left on the street because the Ontario government clawed back their disability award.”
In many cases, she said the injuries they suffered have made them unable to work.
“They have a disability for life,” she said.
Ottawa West-Nepean MPP Jeremy Roberts — the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services — acknowledged the sacrifices veterans have made for the country.
“We need to be there when they need us,” he said, responding to Stevens.
Although Roberts spoke about past government investments in programs like the expansion of the Soldiers Aid Commission Program, he did not directly address the issue Stevens raised.
Stevens kept the heat on the provincial government Wednesday, putting a motion on the floor calling on the provincial government to “immediately end the automatic deduction of federal disability award payments from Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program benefits received by injured veterans.”
Stevens, who said she became aware of the issue through conversations with veterans, said she remains hopeful that her motion will receive support from all parties.
“This is something I hope the government listens to and by putting pressure on them we will be able to make sure this government looks at it,” she said.
“Let’s hope they pass it with one voice and we move on we they look after this.”