William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD

SHAFTED

Thank you Peter Worthington of the Toronto Sun
For lending a sympathetic ear and not poking fun
At the plight of old veterans who have survived
To reach the magic claw back age of sixty-five

This is a real injustice, or so it seems to me
The cost of freedom really isn’t all that free;
Some of us got wounded and some of us died
The survivors get clawed back at age sixty five

John Labelle has been working to right this blatant wrong
But the Government keeps singing the old form letter song
It should be noted here and lest we forget
This too will apply to the Afghan War Vet!

When something is wrong and it should be changed
It should not take too much to have it re-arranged
The PM could fix this with one stroke of his pen
It might ensure that our Tory Party gets re-elected again!

Of course this is really just this old soldier’s opinion
I have lobbied for these vets all across this Dominion
We had no Union Folks to keep a watch on our back
And that’s why we ended up getting pensions clawed back

To put soldiers’ pensions in with civvies who get paid O. T.
Is very blatantly unfair and this is certainly plain to see!
Who does not get clawed back? Why it’s each Federal MP!
Let us thank all of our Federal Bureaucrats in this land of the free!

RETIRED SOLDIERS GET THE SHAFT

Peter Worthington
By Peter Worthington
Rarely has Canada been so attuned to the welfare and needs of serving military people and veterans, with appreciation is expressed on every occasion – in words, if not deeds. Certainly for those killed or wounded in their country’s name.

However, amid the rhetoric an injustice is being perpetrated on veterans in the form of a pension claw-back that the federal government refuses to correct, ignoring its own extravagant praise for our troops.

When a soldier retires after 20-plus years of service, his pension is fixed until the magic number of 85 (his age plus years of service), then it is indexed, increasing every year.

At age 65 the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) kicks in – and the amount paid, is deducted (clawed back) from the retired soldier’s income. That means his military pension, to which he contributed part of his pay while in uniform, is reduced by whatever his CPP is – to which he also contributed.

In other words, he contributes to the CPP, but gets no benefit.

As well as the Canadian Forces personnel, the claw-back also applies to retired RCMP officers.

Efforts, such as petitions and appeals to MPs and to the Veterans Canada ombudsman, are under way to correct the 1965 claw-back law for the military. But so far, the government is unresponsive, with mostly the NDP (notably Peter Stoffer, NDP MP for Nova Scotia’s Sackville-Eastern Shore) interested in changing the law.

Retired soldiers point out that theirs is the only government job that requires 24/7 readiness, with no overtime, yet ever-ready to risk life and injury when asked to do so. Ignored is that so many pay a double premium with no pension benefit.

Donnie Cappler, a retired sergeant major with 25 years’ service, is a case in point. He joined at age 17 and retired at age 42 on $1,219 a month. When he turned 60 in 2003 his pension was indexed to $1,913.

He points out that when the claw-back occurred at age 65; his military pension was reduced, thus affecting the indexing which resulted in less income than he received before being entitled to Old Age Security (OAS).

Cappler says when he turned 65 (in February, 2008) and the CPP kicked in, his original pension of $1,219 was reduced to $1,008 a month and even with indexing and CPP added, there was an overall drop in his income of $340 a month.

He points out that MPs, after six years, get a fully indexed pension and at age 65, MPs’ pensions are not clawed back. “Why is this?” he asks. “It seems strange that both the politicians and the military work for the same government, yet there are different rules when it comes to pensions. “

Welcome to reality, Donnie. MPs look after themselves first. Always have, always will, look at their lavish pension and pay raises.

CAMPAIGN FOR CHANGE

Jean Labelle is a retired Master Warrant Officer from Nova Scotia who also campaigns for change to the claw-back perversion. He points to a Pension fund surplus that could easily pay for pensions, and scolds against the CPP mandatory deductions that don’t benefit retired soldiers.

“A retired Chief Warrant Officer gets less after his pension than a trained private gets today,” he says. His appeals to Veterans Ombudsman, retired Col. Pat Stogran of Afghanistan fame, led to naught. Stogran responded that as a retired soldier he agreed that dumping the claw-back was “a worthwhile initiative… (but) I do not think it would be appropriate for the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman to do so.”

Hmm. Others might say it’s exactly what the Ombudsman should do.