ARCHIVED - Bill C-44 Receives Royal Assent

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News Release / June 20, 2003 / Project number: NR-03.069

OTTAWA - The Honourable John McCallum, Minister of National Defence, is pleased to announce that Bill C-44, an Act to compensate military members injured during service, received Royal Assent last night.

The new Act provides for the payment of a lump-sum benefit for a service-related injury incurred on or after 1 October 1972 and before 13 February 2003. The legislation covers dismemberment (loss of a hand, foot, or thumb and index finger) and the total and irrecoverable loss of sight, hearing or speech as a result of service in the CF. Details with respect to the benefits are set out in the Act.

This Act complements the new insurance program put into place effective 13 February 2003 to meet the current and future needs of serving members. Both the new Act and the insurance program provide for payments of up to $250,000 to former and serving CF members not covered by the General Officers Insurance Plan (GOIP).

The Department of National Defence expects to start paying the benefit very shortly. Retired and serving members who may be eligible for the benefit and are currently receiving a disability pension under the Pension Act will be contacted by the Department to initiate the process. Other former or serving members or the representatives of estates of deceased members who believe they are eligible may apply for the benefit. The DND point of contact for program administration is the Centre for the Support of Injured and Retired Members and Their Families at 1-800-883-6094.

"This government is committed to treating all ranks of the Canadian Forces in a consistent manner with compassion and understanding," said Minister McCallum. "This Act corrects a disparity in the benefits provided to Canadian Forces personnel who have suffered dismemberment and loss of sight, hearing or speech as a result of a service-related injury."

"The implementation of an insurance program earlier this year to provide lump-sum dismemberment benefits to our members under the rank of Colonel was a major step forward," said General Ray Henault, Chief of the Defence Staff. "Now, making these benefits available under the new Act to personnel injured before the date of the insurance program is also welcome. The benefits that are provided to our men and women in uniform must reflect the risks that they undertake on behalf of the people of Canada."

DND will administer and fund the new benefit at an estimated cost of $26.3 million. It is estimated that 200 beneficiaries are eligible to receive the payment. In the case of approximately 80 personnel who are now deceased, the benefit will be payable to their estates. Benefits are not subject to federal income tax.

Generals and colonels, and lieutenant-colonels in the legal branch, are entitled to lump-sum benefits for dismemberment under the GOIP. This coverage was introduced as part of the executive compensation package for senior ranks in the Regular Force in 1972 and for the Reserve Force in 1994. Service-related dismemberment benefits payable under the new Act are comparable to those provided by GOIP.

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For further information on the Act, including a table of benefits, see the Backgrounder entitled The Injured Military Members Compensation Act in the "Newsroom" at http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/news-nouvelles/news-nouvelles-eng.asp?cat=00&id=1107.

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