Tuesday, November 27, 2012

They Have Our Backs, Who Has Theirs?

It recently came to my attention that the Canadian Forces and their families are dealing with some devastating issues with regards to Home Equity Assistance (HEA) due to relocation for their jobs. Systemic HEA denial has cost these families dearly in every aspect of their lives.

They have our backs. Who has theirs? This community has reached out to ask Canadians for their support. Please help them spread the word as, if you're like me, someone who is not in the military but one who is grateful to live in this amazing country, you had no idea that this was going on either.

In the words of one family (of many) who are affected (and let me add that it took a great deal of courage to speak out):

After over three years, I am speaking out about some very significant issues facing Canadian Forces families upon relocation, ours being one of the more significantly affected. To date,a systemic denial of 100% HEA entitlements has cost families out of pocket and continues to keep them in the red each month.

Systemic HEA denial has cost families their relationships, bankruptcy, careers, health, quality of life and welfare. I would encourage anyone to read into this group and involve yourselves in the upcoming debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday, 27 Nov 2012 by contacting your MP. I have started this discussion group so that ensuing discussions can be an informed one.

To put this into context, since having our first child (12 years ago) we have relocated five times. Our single income family has lost over $200,000 due to the blanket denial of Home Equity Assistance entitlement during our last relocation. As for other CF families, between 2007-2010 there were 149 applications for HEA and ALL OF THEM WERE DENIED by Treasury Board Secretariat.

This has left our family doing without, our retirements savings gone, significant debts and exhausting the redress system. The only option left now is a Judicial Review costing tens of thousands of dollars, and even that does not provide a solution, but opens the door for a class action. Members in our situation do not have money to pay a legal team and are therefore denied justice.

Should our Canadian Forces soldiers be forced to wait 3+ years, take the Government of Canada to Federal Court and sell off their assets in order to get an "entitlement"? That's exactly what had to happen with the SISIP clawback lawsuit recently. Surely, there must be some accountability for TBS decision making process.

I know that after almost three and a half years of patiently applying for and grieving our entitlement decision, I have little left to sell, and am therefore out of time. I am not willing to declare bankruptcy for an issue which is clearly identified and supported by the Chief of Defence Staff, the Canadian Forces Ombudsman and the Canadian Forces Grievance Authority. All of whom are supportive, but have no authority to provide relief.

24 years of service in my situation equates to an unsustainable financial situation. If people knew what we have had to do to survive these last three years, they would be horrified. This is only one family's case.

After 24 years of service, having to take on the Treasury Board in Federal Court, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars, to obtain an entitlement is not "supporting our troops".

I have taken on this issue on behalf of many, many soldiers and their families. Knowing full well the effects of suffering huge financial burdens, the effects on health, career, family, opportunity and relationships.  

I encourage your assistance in passing the word and engaging this discussion in a public forum. Please help us. Share your opinion and support with your Member of Parliament. 

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