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SISIP Clawback


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« on: June 18, 2009, 09:59:33 pm »

Sweet Jesus!

Top court to hear soldier's bid to recover insurance

Updated Thu. Jun. 18 2009 2:09 PM ET

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA -- A former soldier who returned his military medals in protest to the Governor General will get a chance to argue for his class-action lawsuit in the country's highest court.

The Supreme Court of Canada said Thursday it will hear Dennis Manuge's case.

Manuge of Porters Lake, N.S., and a handful of other veterans recently sent their Canadian Forces Peacekeeping Service Medals and NATO Service Medals to Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean, the commander-in-chief, to protest the treatment of wounded soldiers.

He described the decision as "outstanding news for disabled vets."

A military mechanic injured at the Canadian Forces base in Petawawa, Ont., Manuge had $10,000 of his disability pension clawed back by the federal government after he left the military.

The decision by the high court to examine the case "renews our faith in the system when they're willing to take another look at it for us," Manuge said in a telephone interview from his home Thursday.

The military ombudsman and a Senate committee investigated his case and both declared the clawback "profoundly unfair." In addition, a private-member's bill tabled to rectify the claim was approved by the House of Commons, but not recognized by the Conservative government.

Manuge launched a class-action lawsuit, representing approximately 6,500 injured veterans, but the federal government won an appeal of the decision to certify the lawsuit.

The high court will determine whether the case can proceed.

As much as $320 million in benefits could be at stake if the case proceeds and if the courts rule in favour of the class-action suit.

Manuge said he believes the federal government is trying to wait out the injured veterans, the way it does former Second World War and Korean War soldiers, hoping they'll simply pass away.

"But I think they make the mistake that we're all young men and women," said the 40-year-old. "We're going to be around. If it has to go through the court system for another 10 years, we're going to be here."

The NDP veterans affairs critic, Peter Stoffer, said the federal government should take the opportunity between now and when the case is heard by the high court to settle the matter.

"It didn't have to go this far," he said.

The longer the federal government fights this, the more expensive it's going to become, Stoffer added.

"They should have dealt with this thing years ago," the Nova Scotia MP said. "It really shows you the level of support from the federal government when they challenge these decisions in court. Instead of dealing with veterans and their families in very pragmatic and honourable way, they basically tell them, `we'll see you in court."'

The policy that initiated the benefits clawback dates to the late 1960s and Manuge's lawyers will attempt to argue that it is illegal because the chief of defence staff at the time did not have the authority to make such a decision.

Manuge, who left the Forces as a corporal, joined the army in 1994 and spent almost 10 years in uniform, serving a tour in Bosnia in 2001 after he was injured.

In 2002, while still serving, he began receiving a $444 monthly disability pension on top of his pay, but that changed when he was discharged for medical reasons in December 2003.

The military's compulsory insurance plan entitled Manuge to 75 per cent of his former income for two years because he had become too physically disabled to do his job.
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1977-1RCR  Italy PL, B Coy, Mortars
                   Pioneers, Delta Coy
                   CFB London

1979-3RCR  M Coy 12C,  Sigs, Pipes&Drums
                   Mortars
                   CFB Baden WG

1982 1RCR  Mortars 51B, Dukes, BBC (Cyp)
                   Mortars, WO-Sgts Mess,
                   CFB London

2008            President. Niagara Branch
                   The Royal Canadian Regiment
                           Association

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