Man Who Lost Wife to Cancer Fights Veterans Affairs for Agent Orange Payment: Family Fights for Agent Orange Compensation[1]

By Auld, Alison | The Canadian Press, February 12, 2012 | Go to article overview

Man Who Lost Wife to Cancer Fights Veterans Affairs for Agent Orange Payment: Family Fights for Agent Orange Compensation[1]


Auld, Alison, The Canadian Press


HALIFAX - Relatives of a woman who died of a cancer linked to Agent Orange exposure in the 1960s say Ottawa is denying them compensation because she was diagnosed with the lethal disease 12 days after a federal deadline.

Keith Haynes lost his wife, Audrey, on Jan. 31, just a month after the Department of Veterans Affairs issued its final ruling that she would not be eligible for the $20,000 ex gratia payment.

The 54-year-old customer service worker was diagnosed with stage 4 non small cell lung cancer on July 12 after she collapsed at work and was rushed to hospital in Halifax.

Keith Haynes says her cancer was listed on a U.S. medical chart of illnesses the Canadian government recognizes as being linked to the spraying of Agent Orange at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in the 1960s.

But when she applied for the ex gratia payment before her death, Veterans Affairs indicated she didn't qualify because she was diagnosed 12 days after the federally imposed deadline of June 30, 2011, and didn't get her application in until weeks later.

"My wife passed away and, as far as I'm concerned, she was betrayed by her federal government," her husband said from their home on the outskirts of Halifax.

"Who gave them the right and authority and the nerve to put a deadline on the compensation package for people who've been exposed to this chemical?"

Haynes, 54, and his 16-year-old daughter Jessie are fighting to have Veterans Affairs overturn its decision, arguing that there should be no time frame for illnesses associated with the spray program in New Brunswick in 1967 and 1966.

He says his wife's father and a sister both died of the same type of cancer, and another sister has leukemia. Two received the $20,000 payments, while the other died two weeks after her cancer diagnosis.

Audrey Haynes appealed to the department but was told repeatedly that she missed the deadline for the program, which was meant to compensate soldiers and their families who were exposed to the defoliant and later became ill.

In the final correspondence, Veterans Affairs says exemptions can be considered only when circumstances "beyond the control of the applicant" prevent them from submitting an application before June 30. …

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