Bruyea v Her Majesty the Queen

What is this claim about?

Murphy Battista LLP has filed a proposed class action against the Government of Canada and the Minister of Veterans Affairs concerning its administration of the Supplementary Retirement Benefit (the “SRB”) to former members of the Canadian Armed Forces (“Veterans”).

The SRB program was established by the Government of Canada to compensate for the lower pension earnings and retirement benefits payable to a Veteran who had been unable to engage in suitable gainful employment because of service-related injuries and disabilities. The Minister of Veterans Affairs is the sponsor and administrator of the SRB program. Eligibility for the SRB program commenced once a Veteran was approved for the Veterans Affairs Canada Rehabilitation Program (the “VAC Rehabilitation Program”) and the Earnings Loss Benefit; Veterans approved for the VAC Rehabilitation Benefit were eligible for and could concurrently apply for and receive the Earnings Loss Benefit.

The proposed class action alleges that employees of the Government of Canada and Veterans Affairs Canada, who are assigned to help Veterans, lack sufficient training, expertise, and awareness of programs, such as the SRB program, to explain and communicate such programs to Veterans. The class action alleges that, as a result, Veterans were not properly informed of, unable to fully comprehend, and did not receive the benefits and services to which they are entitled. As an example, it is specifically alleged in the statement of claim that Veterans who were in receipt of Canadian Armed Forces Long Term Disability (“CAF-LTD”) benefits were advised by employees of Veterans Affairs Canada that there was no benefit in applying for the Veterans Affairs Canada Rehabilitation Program (the “VAC Rehabilitation Program”), or the “Earnings Loss Benefit” while in receipt of the CAF-LTD. Given these alleged misrepresentations, many Veterans did not apply for the Veterans Affairs Canada Rehabilitation Program or the Earnings Loss Benefit – and therefore were not eligible for the SRB, which they otherwise would have been eligible to receive.

What is the Supplementary Retirement Benefit?

The SRB was a lump-sum taxable benefit payable to eligible Veterans and their survivors at age 65 (or when Earnings Loss Benefit eligibility ceased). The SRB program was terminated, effective March 31, 2019, and all participants in the SRB program subsequently received a lump-sum payout of the SRB. This proposed class action alleges that, as a result of the Government of Canada and Veterans Affairs Canada’s failure to properly advise Veterans of the SRB program (including the eligibility requirements of the SRB program and the steps a Veteran needed to take in order to maximize benefit entitlements under the SRB program), and by failing to provide them with reasonable, accurate, timely, and reliable information about the SRB program, Veterans eligible for the SRB did not take the steps they needed to take in order to maximize their benefit entitlements under the SRB program, did not receive the full lump-sum payments to which they were otherwise eligible to receive, and suffered losses as a result.

This proposed class action seeks to compensate Veterans who received or were eligible to receive the SRB for those losses.

Who does this class action affect?

This proposed class action is brought on behalf of all former members of the Canadian Armed Forces who received, or were otherwise eligible to apply for and receive, the SRB.

How do I know if I was eligible for the SRB?

If you are a former member of the Canadian Armed Forces, then you were eligible for the SRB if:

  1. you were approved to be in the VAC Rehabilitation Program, or would have been approved to be in the VAC Rehabilitation Program upon application;
  2. you were deemed to be (or would have, on application, been deemed to be) Totally and Permanently Incapacitated and/or suffering Diminished Earnings Capacity as defined in programs sponsored and administered by the Government, including Veterans approved for CAF-LTD and designated Totally Disabled; and
  3. you were approved for and in receipt of the Earnings Loss Benefit from the Government, or you were otherwise eligible to apply for and receive an Earnings Loss Benefit.

To be eligible for the VAC Rehabilitation Program, a Veteran must have had a physical or mental health problem, resulting primarily from service in the Canadian Armed Forces, that created a barrier to re-establishment in civilian life. Veterans approved for the VAC Rehabilitation Program were eligible for the Earnings Loss Benefit.

If you meet the aforementioned requirements and, as a result, you received or were eligible to apply for and receive the SRB, you are a class member in this proposed class action.

Current Status

The Statement of Claim, initiating this proposed class action, was filed in the Federal Court on September 15, 2020.

The CBC covered the story in October 2020: Lawsuit accuses Veterans Affairs of failing to tell eligible veterans about benefits.

A certification hearing is expected to take place in 2022.

Please check back here for updates.

Who are the lawyers?

This class action is being pursued by a team of lawyers at Murphy Battista LLP, led by Angela Bespflug, Janelle O’Connor and Peter Driscoll.

What should I do if I have been affected?

Please contact us by submitting the form below. A member of the legal team handling this action will contact you and you will be added to our database and kept apprised of developments.

Questions?

If you have questions or would like to be included in our database of class members and kept apprised of developments, please email us at [email protected].

Form

Supplemental Retirement Benefits (SRB) Class Action Form

  • Personal information that you provide to us for the purpose of determining your possible involvement in the class action will be treated as private and is protected by lawyer-client privilege.

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