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Toth v. Her Majesty the Queen class action

Background

The Toth v. Her Majesty the Queen class action lawsuit challenged the validity of offsets made by the Government of Canada to the Disability Pension before 29 May 2012. It ended with a $100-million settlement agreement. Any unclaimed amounts are deemed residual funds.

The court decided on 06 January 2021 that these residual funds will be paid in two phases, to four charities. The amounts in the first phase are as follows:

  • $2 million to the Bursary Fund (Manuge)
  • $1.2 million to the Royal Canadian Legion Poppy Fund (Poppy Fund); and,
  • $800,000 to the Veterans Legal Assistance Foundation (VLAF).

The remaining money will be distributed to:

  • Bursary Fund $813,876.82,
  • Royal Canadian Legion Poppy Fund $488,326.09,
  • Veterans Legal Assistance Foundation $244,163.05, and
  • Ottawa Innercity Ministries: Inner City Veterans Outreach and Support $81,387.68.

Settlement

Q1. What was this action about?

A1. In May 2012, the Government of Canada announced that it would end the practice of offsetting Disability Pension benefits payable under the Pension Act, from VAC income support programs: the Earnings Loss Benefit and Canadian Forces Income Support benefit under the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Act (now the Veterans Well-being Act), and the War Veterans Allowance benefit under the War Veterans Allowance Act. This class action challenged the validity of the offsets which were made before May 2012.

Q2. Do all of the class members agree with the settlement?

A2. In approving the settlement, the Federal Court determined that the settlement agreement was fair and reasonable and in the best interests of the class.

Q3. Does this settlement have any impact on the Department’s benefits and services?

A3. No. This will have no impact on services and benefits we offer. The Government of Canada will continue to take action to strengthen the support available to Canadian Armed Forces members, Veterans and their families by restoring critical access to services and support for financial independence.

Q4. What happens to any unclaimed amounts from the settlement?

A4. Every reasonable effort will be made to locate those who are eligible for a settlement payment. Any unclaimed amount will first be used to fix errors or underpayments to class members. The remainder of the unclaimed funds will be distributed as the parties agree, subject to court approval.

Q5. Did class members have any appeal rights?

A5. Class members had until April 1, 2019 to apply for leave to appeal the Federal Court’s Approval order. If you have concerns with the settlement, you are encouraged to contact class counsel at:

Q6. How many Veterans are part of this settlement?

A6. Approximately 14,000 class members and estates are part of this settlement.

Q7. I haven’t been in contact with you for a number of years. How will you know how to reach me?

A7. Please contact us to ensure that we have your current contact information. You can call toll-free at 1-866-522-2122, or visit any VAC office. Locations can be found here: Find a location nearest you.

Q8. I think I’m a class member, but I haven’t received any communication from VAC about this class action or the settlement. What should I do?

A8. You should contact class counsel at:

Payments (Veterans)

Q9. Who is a class member and who is eligible to receive a settlement payment?

A9. The Class has two separate components, defined in the Certification Order as:

  1. ELB/CFIS Class: All Canadian Armed Forces members and Veterans, and their spouses, dependants, survivors, and orphans who received a reduced ELB or CFIS between 1 April 2006 and 29 May 2012, or received no benefit at all during that time, because of the deduction of their Disability Pension benefit entitlements under the Pension Act; and
  2. WVA Class: All Veterans, their spouses, dependants, survivors, and orphans who received a reduced allowance under the War Veterans Allowance Act between 17 April 1985 and 29 May, 2012, or who did not receive a Veterans allowance at all during that time, because of the deduction of their Disability Pension benefit entitlements under the Pension Act.

For settlement purposes, the Class is limited to Veterans or eligible survivors, orphans, and/or estates as: (a) defined in the Certification Order; and (b) identified in mailing lists we prepared after the granting of the Certification Order and approval of the Notice of Settlement Approval. This identified Class Members and formed the basis for the First and Second Notices mailed to Class Members.

You are not entitled to participate in the settlement if you are a class member who validly opted out of, and did not opt back into, the class proceeding by 15 February 2019.

If you are not sure if you are a member of the class, or included in the settlement, please contact class counsel.

If an eligible class member died on or after 5 August 2016, the amount will be payable to the estate of the deceased class member.

Q10. When are the payments for the Toth settlement being issued?

A10. We started issuing payments in July 2019. Payments are expected to continue until December 2020.

Q11. How are payments being made to class members?

A11. We will be issuing payments to living class members by direct deposit and by cheque.

Q12. Will class members receive letters or just payments?

A12. Both. We will send a letter explaining the payment amount to each class member to whom a payment is issued, but the letter may arrive after the payment is received. Class members who are registered for secure messaging will also receive this letter through their My VAC Account.

Q13. Will this affect other VAC benefits?

A13. No. These are lump-sum compensation payments that will not affect monthly amounts.

Q14. Will this affect any of my other social benefits, for example, provincial social assistance?

A14. You should contact the organization which provides your social benefit to ask if the payment affects you.

Q15. Is the payment taxable?

A15. No. Canada Revenue Agency has confirmed that the payment is not taxable.

Q16. How much are the payments?

A16. For the War Veterans Allowance class, the amount of an individual payment is $2,169.

For the Earnings Loss Benefit/Canadian Forces Income Support class, payments are based on the class member’s percentage of disability pension. These payments range from $2,455.40 to $49,108.

Q17. My total Disability Pension percentage is higher than what my payment was calculated on. Why is my payment lower?

A17. Payments for the ELB/CFIS class are based on the class member’s disability assessment under the Pension Act, on or before 10 September 2018. Disability assessments under the Veterans Well-being Act are not included in this calculation.

If you have questions about the amount of your settlement payment, please contact Class Counsel.

Payments (Estates)

Q18. How will payments be made to estates?

A18. Payments to estates will be made by cheque payable to the estate of the deceased class member. Direct deposit will not be used for estate payments.

Q19. What if the estate is closed?

A19. If there is no ongoing administration of an eligible estate of a deceased class member, a person entitled in law to succeed to the assets of the deceased (e.g., heir or dependent) may apply to have the payment issued in their name. Please contact VAC for additional information.

Q20. Will VAC send an explanation letter when a payment to the estate of a deceased class member is issued?

A20. Yes, VAC will send an explanation letter for each settlement payment that is issued. Payments to estates will be issued by cheque, made payable to the estate of the deceased class member. A letter explaining the payment amount will be mailed separately. In some cases, a cheque will not be mailed at the same time as the explanation letter. For this reason, a cheque may arrive in advance of the related letter.

Q21. If the class member is deceased, how does an estate representative return a cheque that was issued in the name of the deceased class member?

A21. The estate representative should contact VAC to see how the cheque can be reissued to the estate of the deceased class member.

Q22. I received a letter stating that the estate may be eligible to receive a settlement, but it doesn’t say how much. Can you tell me?

A22. For the War Veterans Allowance class, the amount of an individual payment is $2,169.

For the Earnings Loss Benefit/Canadian Forces Income Support class, payments are based on the class member’s percentage of disability pension. These payments range from $2,455.40 to $49,108.

Letters

Q23. Why did I receive a letter from Canada Revenue Agency regarding YOUR settlement payments?

A23. The Canada Revenue Agency is sending letters on our behalf, in an effort to reach class members and the representatives of estates that may be eligible to receive settlement payments.

The Canada Revenue Agency will not be sharing personal information with us.

Q24. If I haven’t received a letter from the Canada Revenue Agency, should I be concerned?

A24. If you are an eligible class member and haven’t received a letter, either directly from us or via the Canada Revenue Agency, or haven’t received a payment, you should contact us to make sure we have the correct address and payment information.

Q25. Why did I receive a letter requesting a death certificate for my father/mother?

A25. As per the Final Settlement Agreement, if a class member who was alive on 5 August 2016 is now deceased, the settlement payment is payable to the estate of the deceased class member.

Prior to any such payment being issued, the legal representative of the estate of the deceased class member must provide us with any documents required to establish the estate’s entitlement to the payment.

Residual Funds

Q26. What steps did you take to ensure all potential class members were contacted?

A26. The Notice of Settlement was published in national media, VAC sent several letters to class members/estates, and posts about the settlement were made across multiple social media platforms.

  1. The first notice was sent to all potential class members in August 2016 as a notification of the class proceeding.
  2. The second notice was sent to class members/estates in October 2018 as notification of the Final Settlement Agreement.
  3. Between October 2019 and September 2020, letters were mailed to estates of deceased class members who had not yet contacted VAC.
  4. In December 2019, class counsel sent a letter to estates of deceased class members.
  5. We initiated another letter in February 2020 to reach out to class members/estates who had not yet contacted VAC.
  6. We sent one last letter, with a deadline of 30 November 2020, in an attempt to reach class members/estates who have either not contacted us or who have not provided us with the documents we needed to process their payment.

Q27. Why weren’t you able to reach all of the potential class members?

A7. Despite our best efforts, we were simply unable to reach everyone.

Q28. How did you decide who will got the residual money?

A28. We decided, along with plaintiff’s counsel, that the best way to use the leftover money is to make sure that it helps Veterans. The federal court agreed and the remaining funds went to registered, national charities that support Veterans and their families.

Q29. Do the class members agree with the decision to give the residual funds to these groups?

A29. As this is a class action lawsuit the decision was made by the court on 06 January 2021. The charities selected were agreed upon by both us and class counsel. Class members did not participate in this selection process.

Q30. What will these organizations do with the money?

A30. The charities were chosen based on the services and support they provide to Veterans and their families. With the money provided, they will:

  • Provide food items, reading materials, flowers, toiletry items, writing materials, postage and temporary television rentals for Veterans and their widows/widowers in hospital
  • Fund bursaries for students who are Veterans and their family members
  • Provide remembrance material for schools
  • Fund medical training and research
  • Construct, maintain and preserve local monuments
  • Cover the costs associated with service dogs for Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Support community programs and services to resource centres that support Veterans and their families
  • Provide emergency assistance for such things as shelter, food, fuel, clothing, prescription medicine, medical devices/equipment and necessary transportation
  • Support Veterans’s legal fees associated with administrative tribunals and courts so they can pursue disability cases and other legal cases
  • Connect with Veterans who are homeless or in need by offering emergency supplies, advocacy, referrals, and long-term support

Q31. How much did each organization receive?

A31. Unclaimed amounts were paid in two phases to four charities. The amounts in the first phase are as follows:

  • $2 million to the Bursary Fund (Manuge)
  • $1.2 million to the Royal Canadian Legion Poppy Fund (Poppy Fund); and,
  • $800,000 to the Veterans Legal Assistance Foundation (VLAF).

The amounts in the second phase are:

  • $813,876.82 to the Bursary Fund,
  • $488,326.09 to the Royal Canadian Legion Poppy Fund,
  • $244,163.05 to the Veterans Legal Assistance Foundation, and
  • $81,387.68 to the Ottawa Innercity Ministries: Inner City Veterans Outreach and Support.

Decline Letters

Q32: I want to provide documents to complete my Toth payment application (i.e. Payments to Estates Regulations Package or Cheque Request Form). Can I still submit it?

A32. No, as of 2 February 2021, we can’t accept any new claims or documents to support claims for payment under the final settlement agreement.

Q33: Why did I receive a decline letter?

A33. The deadline to submit the documents we needed to support a claim was 1 February 2021.

Q34: I think I sent my information in on time, but I still received a decline letter.

A34. Claimants with incomplete information as of 2 February 2021 were issued a decline letter. If you have any other questions, please contact Class Counsel. (Contact information below).

Q35: I have questions about the Toth Settlement, who can I speak with?

A35. If you have any questions about this matter, please contact Class Counsel at:

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