Letter to the Editor Re: Duty to Veterans
August 19, 2013 - There is indeed a social covenant between Canada and its veterans and their dependants, notwithstanding the highly inappropriate opinion expressed by Professor Robinson (Citizen - August 5th).
When Canadians prepared for the battle of Vimy Ridge, Prime Minister, Sir Robert Borden, offered the following commitment:
“You can go into this action feeling assured of this, and as the head of the government I give you this assurance; that you need have no fear that the government and the country will fail to show just appreciation of your service to the country in what you are about to do and what you have already done. The government and the country will consider it their first duty to prove to the returned men its just and due appreciation of the inestimable value of the services rendered to the country and Empire; and that no man, whether he goes back or whether he remains in Flanders, will have just cause to reproach the government for having broken faith with the men who won and the men who died.”
This has been seen by many in the veterans community as the genesis of Canada’s social covenant to veterans and their families; a form of implicit contract which has been at the foundation of veterans legislation from World War I to the present day.
Serving in the Canadian Forces is a demanding and inherently dangerous career choice. When Canadians put on a uniform for our country, they – and by extension their families – make an extraordinary personal and professional commitment and sacrifice because of their willingness to put their lives on the line and the potential long term impact of military service on their health. Many sustain injuries that affect their ability to do their jobs and limit their employment in the military.
When these injuries occur, CF members expect to be able to reestablish themselves in the civilian community and be gainfully employed. If unable to work, they expect that their standard of living will not be compromised because of their service to their country, and that they will still be able to provide for their families. If killed in action, they expect their families to be cared for and have the services they need. If they develop health problems later in life related to their military service, they expect to receive treatment, rehabilitation and support.
We owe a unique debt of gratitude to CF members who put themselves at risk on our behalf and have a moral and legal obligation to provide services and supports that acknowledge their sacrifice and respect their dignity.
The Government of Canada should be ashamed to take a position in a Canadian court that fails to recognize the fundamental social covenant that exists between veterans, their dependants and the people of Canada.
Brian N. Forbes, B.Comm., LL.B.
Chairman, National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada
Chairman, Executive Committee of The War Amps
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