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Veterans Legal Assistance Foundation (VLAF)

If you are a veteran in need of legal help with your claim for benefits, or a lawyer prepared to assist such veterans, the Veterans Legal Assistance Foundation is here to help.

The Veterans Legal Assistance Foundation is a charitable organization that supports access to justice for Canadian veterans. The Veterans Legal Assistance Foundation was established to provide Canada’s veterans with funding to obtain legal counsel. The funds reduce the burden of legal fees associated with proceeding before administrative tribunals and courts. Eligibility for funding is reviewed and selected by the Board of Directors through an application process.

Funding for the charity occurred as part of the Manuge SISIP Clawback class action settlement. A $1-million donation was made by law firms representing the class, being Branch MacMaster LLP and McInnes Cooper .

To qualify for assistance, individuals must meet the definition of “veteran” as defined by Veterans Affairs Canada. Assistance is discretionary. A priority is placed on issues broadly affecting veterans nationally. Personal legal matters, such as family and criminal matters, are ineligible for funding. We encourage veterans facing issues with respect to accessing benefits to apply by consulting local legal counsel who can then contact the fund administrator to determine eligibility.

To make a claim for support for your legal expenses, please visit https://veteranslegalassistance.ca/ or contact the Executive Director of the VLAF, Sandra Goodwin,  at sandra@vlaf.ca.

Your request should ideally include a letter from a lawyer prepared to assist you if funding is made available. We have names of lawyers who may be able to assist you if necessary.

Your request should set out:

  1. the status of your claim for benefits,
  2. the next steps for which you need funding;
  3. the amount of funding you would like to receive.

Members of the VLAF Board meet approximately once a month.  Should your matter be accepted, you will be notified shortly thereafter.

If you are a lawyer prepared to accept referrals from veterans approaching the Foundation for funding, please email sandra@vlaf.ca so that you can be added to the lawyer roster.

The Board Members are:

Peter Driscoll, Ward Branch, Megan Seto, Christine Nault and Peter Stoffer

“We’re very pleased to see something like this being made available to veterans,” said Dennis Manuge, a Canadian Armed Forces veteran and representative plaintiff in the SISIP class action. “Our ability to legally pursue disability claims should not be hindered by our personal budgets.”

“We recognize the cost of hiring a lawyer can be a financial burden on veterans, but the likelihood they will receive a successful result is much better if they have professional representation,” said Ward Branch, Veterans Legal Assistance Foundation Board Member. “This fund will make the legal system easier for many of Canada’s veterans appealing disability benefits.”

The Veterans Legal Assistance Foundation’s mandate is to assist veterans with access to justice by providing funding assistance enabling them to retain qualified legal counsel. The framework for the funding assistance program is similar to that of legal aid.

“As lawyers, we are often introduced to people and organizations that have difficulty gaining access to justice due to their personal financial situation,” said Peter Driscoll, Chair of the Veterans Legal Assistance Foundation Board.

“Legal fees on an appeal for disability benefits can cost a veteran $15,000 to $50,000″ said Peter Stoffer, Veterans Legal Assistance Foundation Board Member. “A veteran’s right to seek an appeal to a decision should not be limited by his or her financial means.”

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