Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Fight for Agent Orange Compensation in Canada

By Steven Aliano

In Canada, 82-year-old veteran Basil McAllister has been fighting the federal government for compensation for exposure to Agent Orange. McAllister, a resident of Burton, New Brunswick, has various types of cancer such as prostate, bone, and skin, as well as being a Type-2 diabetic, and has been battling in court for months over restitution for exposure that occurred during his time in the military in the 1960s. At CFB (Canadian Forces Base) Gagetown located in southwestern New Brunswick, McAllister worked alongside ten other individuals whilst being in the vicinity of Agent Orange. Those 10 individuals have all received monthly payments due to the chemical hazards, but not McAllister.

McAllister’s case has been reviewed five times; however, he has still been denied a pension. The Canadian federal government states that in order to receive a pension for the Agent Orange compensation, one must prove that there has been a direct exposure to the chemical. Veteran Affairs argued that, in McAllister’s case, his evidence was “insufficient” and “not credible,” and that including previous decisions on exposure compensation make “irrelevant” cases. Marie Hogan, a member of the Widows on a Warpath group, argues that its a ludicrous notion that two people in this region can have the same illness, where one gets approved and another doesn’t. She continues to say that it should be “consistent across the board.” This case brings light to several others in the Canada, where veterans are struggling for health-related compensation.

This issue is described in an article on the website for CTV News in Canada, and it really caught my eye. However, I felt like we needed more information as a reader to find out what exactly is keeping the federal government from giving Mr. McAllister his righteous pay. According to this article, he was one of eleven men to work in the base, and he is the only one left without receiving compensation. Indeed, you can argue that his evidence is apparently inaccurate, but what evidence would you have to say that they weren’t sprayed on? If the results were more spotty, and only a couple of the men had serious health problems because of the Agent Orange exposure, this wouldn’t be an issue. But 10 out of 11 guys have been affected, and you’re saying the eleventh guy does have any evidence?

Seems to me that the Canadian government should just give the guy a break. He’s into his elder years, and he just wants to get what his colleagues have already gotten. How many more times do they have to deny his case before it just turns exhausting? The last sentence of the article reads, “McAllister says he has made it this far, and he is prepared to wait it out.” Surely this man is sticking around and not going anywhere when it comes to what he thinks he deserves. Might as well give it to him while he is still alive, and keep his family and friends in a comfortable situation despite all the cancers afflicted on Mr. McAllister.

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