Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ombudsman Urges Government to Resolve Home-Equity Disputes for Canadian Soldiers

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ombudsman Urges Government to Resolve Home-Equity Disputes for Canadian Soldiers

Article excerpt

Tories can fix military home equity: Daigle

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OTTAWA - The Canadian Forces ombudsman says the Harper government has an opportunity now to help military families who've suffered huge home-equity losses by amending proposed legislation that's before Parliament.

Pierre Daigle testified Monday before a House of Commons committee that's studying C-15, the latest attempt in a decade-long struggle to overhaul the military justice system.

Since 2007, as many as 146 applications for reimbursement have been denied to military families for losses they've taken after selling their homes because of forced transfers to different parts of the country.

The problem could be solved by giving the country's top military commander the full power to make one-time payments in grievance cases, Daigle told the all-party Commons defence committee.

"This is an unfairness that people serving this country are facing, and all we want is to solve this unfairness," Daigle said in an interview with The Canadian Press following his testimony.

The legislation being studied by the committee has been before Parliament several times, in different forms, over the last 10 years without being passed.

The issue of military justice, including the overhaul of the grievance process, has been the subject of two studies by two justices, including former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Antonio Lamer.

Daigle says a previous version of the bill -- C-41 -- in 2010 would have solved the home-equity problem by giving the chief of defence staff the power to "decide all matters relating to a grievance, including financial matters."

That provision is not contained in Bill C-15.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay testified last week that cabinet passed an order in June 2012 that would give the top military commander the authority to award financial compensation under certain circumstances and said he "hoped" it might apply in the case of families who've taken a financial because of transfers. …

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