Published in the Ottawa Citizen, Aug. 5, 2013
Seriously wounded soldiers should enjoy no special status or privilege with regard to medical care,” writes Michael Gross of Haifa University, who is probably the world’s leading authority on military medical ethics. “Once they cannot return to duty, the critically wounded lose their unique entitlement to scarce medical resources and, therefore, should compete equally with similarly injured and sick civilians for care.”
Mike Blais, the president of the group Canadian Veterans Advocacy, would no doubt disagree. According to Blais, the government has a “sacred obligation” to veterans. A class-action lawsuit currently underway in British Columbia will determine which view prevails in Canada.
The lawsuit was launched by veterans of the Afghan war who argue that the Veterans Charter, put in place in 2006 to regulate financial assistance to injured soldiers, violates the Canadian Charter of Rights. The “honour of the Crown”, they claim, imposes an obligation on the federal government towards ex-service men and women which goes beyond what is in the Veterans Charter. Against this, lawyers for the federal government have called for the dismissal of the suit, claiming that the government does not in fact have any extraordinary obligation towards veterans….
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