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Court upholds paybacks to vets

Published Sep. 2, 2005

The Canadian government has been ordered to pay back about $4-billion denied over the years to thousands of mentally disabled war veterans.

The ruling by the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld an earlier court decision finding the government liable to about 10,000 former soldiers whose finances were managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs between 1919 and 1990.

It was alleged in a class-action lawsuit filed in 1999 that the money was never properly invested, billions in interest never paid and $50-million in pensions and hospital allowances unjustly taken back.

Attorney Peter Sengbusch called it a "victory in a battle that we have fought for several years and that veterans and their families have fought for decades."

Roy Bailey of the Canadian Alliance party said it's a "historic wrong" and urged the Liberal government to pay up immediately.

The government has 60 days to decide whether to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Talks on fate of Medicare

Hearings have begun on the fate of Canada's Medicare system for the report being prepared for the government by Commissioner Roy Romanow.

The Vancouver-based Fraser Institute urged major reforms, including user fees and more private clinics. Federal New Democratic Party Leader Alexa McDonough wants the current system refined and more money put into it.

"We did not elect our governments at either the federal or provincial level in order to deny us the right to spend money on our own health care," said Dr. Brian Day, who runs a private clinic.

McDonough criticized private for-profit services because they offer less care at a higher cost than public health care and discourage lower-income patients from seeking treatment.

Names in the news

+ Dalton Camp, a former Conservative strategist and power broker, has died in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Camp, who was 81, suffered a stroke last month.

+ Jean-Paul Riopelle, 78, one of Canada's most celebrated abstract painters, has died in Ile-aux-Grues, Quebec. He produced almost 6,000 paintings, drawings and sculptures, many of which are in museums around the world.

Facts and figures

Higher food and electricity costs helped push Canada's annual inflation rate to 1.5 percent from 1.3 percent.

Canada's dollar is higher at 63.27 cents U.S., before bank exchange fees. The U.S. greenback returns $1.5805 Canadian.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate of 2 percent and the prime lending rate of 3.75 percent are unchanged.

Stock markets were mixed, with the Toronto Exchange 300 index lower at 7,856 points and the Canadian Venture Exchange up at 1,164 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 3, 11, 12, 17, 29 and 41; bonus 23. (March 16) 2, 17, 24, 26, 35 and 47; bonus 41.

Regional briefs

+ Montreal's Olympic Stadium _ plagued by roof problems costing $170-million in the past 15 years _ might be torn down. Companies are being asked to evaluate possible replacement options in a review of the stadium. Its roof has ripped and caved in twice.

+ Newfoundland and Labrador's government decided on a tax increase for cigarettes in the provincial budget. Premier Roger Grimes still has on hold a three-year plan to cut income taxes.

+ British Columbia's new Liberal government plans to consider a referendum on aboriginal treaties with an apology. Attorney General Geoff Plant said a statement would recognize the historical treatment natives have received. Voters will be asked if future treaties should ensure private property is not expropriated, that hunting and fishing on government land will be maintained and to approve aboriginal self-rule.