Earnings Loss Benefit (ELB) - Good Propaganda But Terrible
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- Sep 2017
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Earnings Loss Benefit (ELB) - Good Propaganda But Terrible Optics
By Perry Gray, Chief Editor
VVi 22 Sep 2017 dbpe
In June 2017, CBC published
information about the increase in the ELB from 75% to 90%. The
statistics are depressing:
- 16 veterans received a
monthly increase of more than $2,000, the highest being $5,536.37.
- 839 received $1,000 -
- 2,187 ($750-$999).
- 428 ($500-$749).
- 753 ($201-$499).
- 601 ($100-200).
- 145 ($50-$99).
- 74 ($25-49).
- 28 ($3-$24).
- 165 ($1.39).
About 800 veterans receiving
the earnings loss benefit are not included in the breakdown, because
their calculations are so complex they have to be done manually.
If the government needed a
clear indication of the superiority of the older Pension Act
financial benefits, then this information is blindingly obvious
The main problem with ELB has
and always will be that it is based on a Veteran’s pre-release
salary. This is based on military rank rather than severity of the
injuries or illnesses of the Veteran.
All Veteran Affairs Canada
(VAC) benefits should be based on the level of disability because
those who are severely disabled need greater support in order to
have a good quality of life.
Another problem with ELB is
that VAC did not really study its impact, which is why 165 Veterans
were given a mere $1.39. If this is 15%, then the recipients had a
salary of $9.27, which makes no sense at ALL.
The current minimum monthly
pay for the CF is $2985.00 so one would expect that the lowest
increase would be $447.75 based on the 2017 Canadian Armed Forces
(CAF) pay scale. Obviously this is not the true minimum because many
Veterans receive much less depending on when they were released.
Regardless there is a big
difference between $1.39 and $447.75. It is difficult to understand
why calculating ELB is so complicated that 800 Veterans’ benefits
had to be calculated manually. The ELB is supposedly based on CAF
salary, so what additional complexities have been added by VAC?
The CBC used the examples
provided by VAC for some typical ELB payments:
”In that example, a private, a
sergeant and a colonel are all released from the forces on Oct. 1,
2016. At the time of their release, their respective monthly
salaries are $2,806, $5,470 and $12,483.
If all three were awarded the
earnings loss benefit, the monthly increases they would see to that
benefit under the new policy would be $172, $820 and $1,873
The problem is that these
examples do not represent 15%. Here are my calculations for the
2525.4 (90%) - 2104.5 (75%) =
Therefore VAC deducted
$248.85, but offered no explanation why.
Trust the bean counters of VAC
to make every calculation a complex equation. Also VAC has a nasty
habit of providing the least amount to many of its clients. This was
true of the PA disability pension and the New Veterans Charter (NVC)
lump sum. If CBC or any other media group obtained additional
information, then they would realise the average numbers are well
below the 100% used by VAC in its propaganda.
As is apparent from the ELB
statistics, most Veterans receive a paltry sum compared to the
maximum or 100%.
The average PA benefit is
often based on 10-20% level of disability and the average NVC lump
sum is about 10%.
The bottom line is that VAC
regularly pays the minimum, while promoting the numbers representing
100%. The impression is that VAC is generous, but the reality is
that VAC is tight fisted.
Will anyone in VAC ever change
this awful practice?
It probably costs VAC (and
therefore Canadian taxpayers) more to manage the lowest levels of
ELB than the actual amount of ELB paid out. This does not make any
sense. The CBC article stated that "Veterans Affairs was prepared to
call all those who were receiving a monthly increase of $200 or less
to offer an explanation before they received an official
notification letter of the increase. The memo says the department
had prepared a "comprehensive communications plan" to respond to any
concerns raised by veterans around the changes."
Perry Gray is a
Regular Force veteran, serving as the Chief Editor of VVi. Perry has
been with VVi for 16 years.
the Invictus Games, not all veterans are winners
Opinion: A veteran on how celebrating the sporting achievements of a
few allows Canadians to forget about the plight of thousands of
other former servicepeople
September 22, 2017
VVi 22 Sep 2017 dbpe
Britain’s Prince Harry, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and
Toronto Mayor John Tory cheer on sledge hockey atheletes during the
Invictus Games media launch in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, May 2,
2016. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)
I am a veteran with
disabilities, and I have a tough time with the Invictus Games.
determination and perseverance as they perform their feats of
strength and speed are admirable and inspiring for many—just not for
me. Mine are far more humble aspirations. Every morning is a
psychological melee, as I try to clear my head of the previous
night’s sweating, jaw-clenching, anxiety-ridden,
sleeplessness-inducing assault by nightmares far more lucid than
most of my waking minutes. I limp from bed, struggling to dress
myself as I suppress the pain from fibromyalgia, a chronic
inflammation of muscle and tissues that I’ve suffered for 25 years.
The next round of the Invictus
Games starts in Toronto next week, and will involve 550 participants
from 17 nations competing in 12 parasport categories. Their goals
are easily laudable: developing a sense of belonging and increased
self-esteem, finding an outlet for excess energy, fostering a sense
of camaraderie among wounded service members, and experiencing an
improved quality of life.
But the daily reality of many
of the thousands of Canadian veterans with life-disabling military
injuries is far removed from that of the 90 injured soldiers who
will represent Canada at the games. Some 5,000 are so disabled as to
be unemployable, while 14,000 suffer from chronic post-traumatic
stress disorder. These veterans have concerns far more immediate
than competing in athletic events.
Most mornings, I muster the
concentration to drive my bright-eyed five-year-old son to daycare
and my preoccupied wife to the bus station. Then I move on to
another day of specialists and therapists trying to diagnose or
treat the injuries and infections that are the result of my system
operating on overdrive for a quarter of a century. Moving between
their offices, I often feel lost, afraid, and alone. I’m not the
only one—research shows, a large proportion of injured veterans have
a tough time developing a sense of belonging.
It’s likely that at no point
in the last 70 years have proportionally so few Canadian families
had someone who is serving or has served in the military. Whereas
most families in the wake of the Second World War understood
military service personally, many Canadians today have little grasp
of the extreme demands it places on those who serve.
Based on the popularity of
events like the Invictus Games, there would seem to be no shortage
of compassion and support for individual Canadian soldiers and
veterans. True Patriot Love, another charity, has hosted
$500-a-plate breakfasts and obtained corporate sponsorships of up to
$30,000, money raised for military families and veterans’ transition
back to civilian life. The organization has sent injured personnel
and “influential Canadian business leaders,” including its executive
chairperson who also sits on the board of Invictus Games, on
keystone trips to exotic destinations including the North Pole.
There is no doubting the good
intentions of those involved in organizing and funding these
initiatives, and the big money they raise can help veterans and
their families. But their success may have the effect of creating in
the eyes of the public an upper class of veterans deemed worthy of
understanding and accolades because they are able to accomplish more
than most. Or Canadians may choose to wash their hands of “the
veteran problem,” because it appears that some charity is doing the
work for them. Meanwhile, the government lauds or funds these
foundations, giving Ottawa more excuses as it continues to fail to
Surely injured veterans who
compete at high levels in sporting arenas or complete arduous,
once-in-a-lifetime expeditions are heroes. But where does that leave
those who cannot accomplish such feats, who live without such
inspiration or hope? The feeling that they must achieve something
inspiring or noteworthy to have their conditions and experiences
recognized just exacerbates their sense of hopelessness and despair.
I wage war with my body and mind on an hourly basis, defending my
sanity from a barrage of horrific images of self-destruction and
inadequacy. Overcoming those challenges is inglorious and hard to
celebrate in a newspaper headline, let alone in a sports stadium.
Putting veterans, especially
the injured ones, on pedestals absolves you of having to know us as
fellow Canadians. It exonerates you from acknowledging our
humanity—heroes are not allowed to be vulnerable or open up. The
label can prevent those veterans to whom it is attached from having
much-needed communion with themselves and their profoundly painful
Like most disabled veterans I
know, I just want to belong, to feel valued. We need Canadians to
spend the time to get to know us, to understand what we lived
through and sacrificed on their behalf. We don’t want applause, just
mutual understanding and compassion. That way, veterans in turn will
be able to understand and engage with those who are showing how
eager they are to lend us a helping hand.
Sean Bruyea is a veteran of
the first Gulf War. He has been writing and advocating on behalf of
disabled veterans and their families for nearly two decades. The
federal government’s violation of his privacy made national
headlines in 2010.
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