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Pensions & Benefits Law - Public pension plans - Veterans’ pensions and allowances - Disability and survivors’ pensions - Appeals and judicial review - Appeal boards and review tribunals

Thursday, March 23, 2017 @ 8:00 PM  

Appeal by a retired RCMP member, MacDonald, from a Federal Court decision affirming refusal of additional retroactive disability benefits. The appellant was an RCMP member between 1973 and 1986. In the course of his service, he suffered various injuries. In 2003, the appellant applied for a disability pension on the basis of chronic back injuries suffered during his service. The claim was dismissed in 2005 due to insufficient medical evidence. In 2009, with the benefit of fresh medical evidence on appeal, the Review Panel awarded the appellant disability benefits for some of his conditions. He was granted three years’ retroactivity. The Panel found no grounds to grant the additional two years of retroactivity sought by the appellant and contemplated by s. 39(2) of the Pension Act. In 2014, the Veteran Review and Appeal Board affirmed the decision. The appellant sought judicial review. The Federal Court determined the Board did not err in interpreting s. 39(2) of the Act, and exercised its discretion in refusing additional retroactivity in a reasonable manner. MacDonald appealed.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. A consideration of the whole of the Board’s reasoning revealed that the delay flowed from an evidentiary gap remedied in the Review Panel proceedings. The cause of the delay was the insufficiency of the first medical report submitted by the appellant. A review of the Board’s decision therefore did not turn on the correctness of the Board’s interpretation of the legislation. Instead, the Board’s assessment of the evidence and its factual findings regarding the cause of the delay were determinative. The Board’s determinations in that regard were reasonable and within the range of acceptable and defensible outcomes. In addition, the Board reasonably rejected the appellant’s contention that the delay was caused by inadequate funding of the Bureau of Pension Advocates. Having regard to the record and the result, the outcome was reasonable.