Home Equity Assistance

100% Home Equity Assistance in CFIRP

REPORT ON THE HOME EQUITY ASSISTANCE ENTITLEMENT FOR RELOCATING MEMBERS

with 106 comments

Marcus Brauer

25 Wheatstone Heights
Dartmouth, NS
B2Y 4E1

28 January 2013

SYSTEMIC DENIAL OF 100% HOME EQUITY ASSISTANCE
(HEA) ENTITLEMENT FOR RELOCATING CANADIAN FORCES MEMBERS

Reference: A. Telephone Hon Jack Harris – Maj Marcus Brauer, 25 Jan 2013
B. Access to Information report http://wp.me/a2VdY5-1t
C. Home Equity Assistance website https://healoss.wordpress.com/
D. Canadian Forces Integrated Relocation Policy 2009 at http://www.cmp-cpm.forces.gc.ca/dgcbdgras/pd/rel-rei/aps-paa-2009/doc/aps-paa-2009-eng.pdf

ISSUE

1. As requested at reference A, the aim of the briefing note is to apprise the committee of a systemic
denial of approved relocation entitlements by the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS), significantly
affecting hundreds of Canadian Forces members and their families. Policy, examples, ATI requests and
discussions have been collated at reference C for ease of access.

BACKGROUND

2. The Canadian Forces Integrated Relocation Program (CFIRP) is a DND policy which authorizes
100% of Home Equity Loss over $15,000 as a reimbursable entitlement if criteria are met and if TBS
identifies the “community” as a “depressed market”. Although as of 2010, there were 146 applications,
none were approved. The Canadian Forces Grievance system was unable to provide relief even when
applications were supported by the Chief of Defence Staff and the CF Military Ombudsman. The
authority to approve 100% HEA is held by those who are responsible for declaring a community with a
“depressed market”. A Depressed market, as established by Treasury Board Secretariat, “is defined as a
community where the housing market has dropped more than 20%” (Reference D).

DISCUSSION

3. The discussion will summarize key issues:

a. CDS not approved to provide for relief

(1) Although the CDS supported the 100% HEA applications, and identified the systemic denial
within the TBS, he could neither force TBS to reconsider, nor could he affect any form of
relief due to his limited financial authority. This issue is discussed within Bill C-15 debates.

b. Unfair use of blanket denial

(1) TBS decision makers denied all HEA application by applying a blanket denial indicating
that there are no depressed markets in Canada, although being provided information to
the contrary (Reference B).

(2) When evidence (HEA applications) provided the proof of meeting all criteria (specifically an average 20% loss in housing costs), the TBS changed tactics and used a blanket denial which was based on 2007-2008 data when applying it to moves in 2010, and had not been updated (Reference B);

(3) Treasury board has replaced the term “community” in the CFIRP policy with the term “area” in all of their decisions, with the effect of lowering the average home sale price from the required 20% to below the 20% cut off limit. This has been confirmed by the CDS, CF Ombudsman and CF Grievance Board Authority (CFGBA). TBS indicated that the use of area is an efficiency method (reference B); and

(4) Blanket denials have been tried in Federal Court of Canada previously and have been found to be unconstitutional infringing on the s.7 rights of individuals.

c. Definition of community

(1) CFIRP policy has the term community as the area to be assessed as a “depressed market”. This definition is neither defined nor used by Treasury Board or the NJC relocation policy. However, it is defined by the Government of Canada, the legal definition and scholarly articles, all of which support a rural town as a “community” not part of an “area”;

(2) The interchanging of a policy terminology between how it is written and how it is assessed demonstrates that the policy is vague and over-breadth. At no time has TBS or the military attempted to clarify the definition of community to the relocating members in order to prevent continuing failure of this policy and jeopardizing the financial stability of relocating members;

(3) TBS data sources used for market analysis were non authoritative (i.e. Blogs, Wikipedia, wrong geographic areas, and 2 years prior to the dates in question) (Reference B). However data provided for my particular file was based solely on authoritative sources (MLS sales, realtor reports, Statistics Canada) etc. There is no evidence that this data was considered (Reference B).

d. Current levels

(1) Although average housing costs in Canada have doubled in the last five years, the baseline (percentage) reimbursement has not been adjusted resulting in even greater losses. I.e. if a community loses 19% in their average sale price, the member is not entitled to 100% HEA. Now on a $400,000 bungalo, this can represent a $76,000 loss.

e. Recourse

(1) As the CF Grievance system has been exhausted, the only recourse is a Judicial Review in Federal Court. An estimate provided by a local solicitor identifies the cost of a Judicial Review between $15,000-$20,000. As all affected members and their families can attest to, this is not feasible, specifically as a Judicial Review does not provide an appeal.

(2) While families have been able to stretch their finances to allow the CF Grievance process is completed, it has been three years in some cases. Military families are selling their assets, taking second jobs, declaring bankruptcy and utilizing community financial assistance programs. I would hope that within our Governance there is a way for Treasury Board to be held accountable;

(3) CF members were provided this as an entitlement arising from SCONDVA. It is not supposed to take 3+ years, hundreds of thousands of dollars lost and staff work within DND, TBS, Ombudsman, DCCL, ATI and other offices likely costing substantially more than the original requests. We would like to be paid what we were promised. We would also like this fixed for future relocations.

CONCLUSION

4. There is a need to revisit the 100% HEA applications (retroactively), compensate affected members due to secondary and tertiary damages and prevent further effects by clarifying the policy as identified by the Chief of Defence Staff and CF Ombudsman on multiple occasions.

5. The lack of procedural fairness, to process the application (as per NJC/TBS/CFIRP policy) and the resultant delays/denials have had severe and detrimental effects to CF families. If relief is provided, it will allow affected military families to be in a sustainable financial situation and begin the healing process. Without the financial assistance some families will exhaust their credit, continue to suffer significant mental health issues, lose military career (due to impacts of bankruptcy on security clearances and continuing mental health issues), impact the health and wellbeing of dependents as well as becoming a burden to society. I believe in our leadership but having this situation forced onto families without any means of surviving it is cruel and unjustified.

6. As there is a great deal of stigma attached with the resultant effects of declaring bankruptcy, divorce, career implications, mental health and other effects of these denials; most CF members are not willing to provide their contact information at this point. As a senior leader in the Canadian Forces, I feel it is my duty to act on their behalf to answer any questions regarding this matter as they pertain to my situation. I may be contacted using the information below.

Prepared by: Marcus Brauer, 902-466-4339, i_win@live.ca

Date prepared: 9 November 2012

Date revised: 28 January 13

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Written by Major Marcus Brauer

January 11, 2013 at 00:13

106 Responses

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  1. Please see the links below for a letter of support from the CAF Ombudsman to the Minister of National Defence.

    https://healoss.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/letter-to-cds/

    Hopefully 2014 will be the year for justice.

    Like

    majorbrauer

    January 3, 2014 at 11:18

  2. The 2013 posting season is starting to take its toll on relocated families. Yet another military family has identified a $50,000 loss due to home equity assistance. Please consider supporting the costs I have taken on for the Judicial Review at http://www.gofundme.com/Home-Equity-Assistance

    Like

    Marcus Brauer

    November 13, 2013 at 22:11

  3. —–Original Message—–
    From: dnd_mdn@forces.gc.ca [mailto:dnd_mdn@forces.gc.ca]
    Sent: December-05-12 11:55 AM
    To: Chisholm, Robert – Riding 1A
    Subject: RE: Marcus Brauer and the Home Equity Assistance Program

    Dear Mr. Chisholm:

    Thank you for your correspondence of September 13, 2012, on behalf of
    Major Marcus Brauer, concerning the Home Equity Assistance (HEA) benefit
    and the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) review of Bon Accord market for
    the period between 2007 and 2010.

    On June 22, 2012, an email communication between the Director
    Compensation and Benefits Administration (DCBA) and TBS staff confirmed
    that decisions on HEA reviews could soon be expected. The TBS decision
    letter on the market assessment for Bon Accord, a protected letter
    addressed to DCBA dated July 17, 2012, was received by DCBA on July 23,
    2012. On July 30, 2012, DCBA informed Major Brauer of the TBS decision
    via email and included a copy of the TBS protected letter dated July 17,
    2012. The TBS decision stated that Bon Accord, Alberta (which is
    included within the Greater Edmonton Area) was not deemed to be a
    depressed market for the period of 2007 to 2010, and, therefore, Major
    Brauer’s request for 100 percent reimbursement of the loss on the sale
    of his residence in Bon Accord was denied.

    I am confident that throughout this process the Department of National
    Defence ensured Treasury Board approved policies and procedures were
    respected at all times. With respect to your request that I engage
    Minister Tony Clement to ensure fair and equitable treatment for Major
    Brauer and other members in similar situations, I can assure you that
    DCBA has liaised with TBS staff ensuring each and every file has been
    dealt with using the utmost professionalism, empathy, and due diligence.
    All our members have received and continue to receive fair and equitable
    treatment.

    I trust this information is helpful, and thank you again for writing.

    Sincerely,

    Peter MacKay
    Minister of National Defence

    Like

    majorbrauer

    November 4, 2013 at 21:41

  4. CF Ombudsman on Twitter: “On November 5, look for our report assessing the well-being of Canada’s military families.”

    Like

    Anonymous

    November 4, 2013 at 11:15

  5. Tomorrow I will be posting the internal TBS memos used to deny the HEA entitlements. Check back here for the results to the Access to Information requests, and see why your community was denied. I’ll drop one hint – no two procedures to deny are the same.

    Like

    majorbrauer

    November 1, 2013 at 21:30

  6. Treasury Board Secretariat withholds information

    In the Judicial Review on systemic denial of home equity assistance, the Crown has withheld the information used by the decision maker (https://healoss.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/respondent_s-written-reply-submissions-october-7_131.pdf). Unfortunately, the Court has decided that this is acceptable and the TBS does not need to disclose the information used by the decision maker to deny the Home Equity Assistance. The order may be found at: https://healoss.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/federal-court-decision-brauer-tribunal-record.pdf

    Like

    majorbrauer

    October 25, 2013 at 19:22

  7. Update: The Crown indicates that TBS material before the decision maker is a cabinet secret and withholds all information. https://healoss.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/respondent_s-written-reply-submissions-october-7_13.pdf further delaying the three year fight for relocation entitlements.

    Like

    majorbrauer

    October 9, 2013 at 20:14

  8. And one more finding obtained through ATI request, is how the Relocation Program Authority at Treasury Board perseveres soldiers:

    “I still believe that the people who are overseeing this (CF IRP) document development are an absolute joke and should not be involved. They think of building ships and planes and tanks…”

    Read the other rantings at ATI # 201000410 pp. 116, 177, 209. https://healoss.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/a201000410_2013-01-25_15-05-51.pdf

    Like

    majorbrauer

    October 5, 2013 at 08:50

  9. I have gathered definitions of the term “community” as used in the relocation policy. None of these definitions support the TBS perspective of “community” being equivalent of a “census metropolitan area”. TBS, in their systemic denial, has intentionally taken the term Census Metropolitan Area to destroy the possibility of CF Families getting their Home Equity Assistance entitlement. “The CDS also agreed with the Board’s systemic recommendation and he directed DGCB to review the HEA provisions with TB with a view to reducing the impact of losses on sale of a residence to a reasonable and minimally detrimental level. One issue for review is the definition of “community”: using a large metropolitan area as a basis for defining a community would average out large discrepancies amongst the communities that make up the larger area. For example, Ottawa is an amalgamated city that includes several previously existing cities (Vanier and Kanata), each of which consists of identifiable areas considered as communities.” CDS Grievance Decision summary (2010) at http://www.cfgb-cgfc.gc.ca/English/2010-012.html What makes this even more disturbing, is that the senior policy experts based their geographical area on WIKIPEDIA (TBS ATI A-201200295, pp. 293).

    Well, when the senior decision maker (https://healoss.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/edmonton_bon-accord_ab_2010_not_depressed_market.pdf) , the subject matter expert at TBS is using Wikipedia to systemically deny entitlements to military families, and then the Crown indicating to the courts that these documents don’t exist, then I need to stand up and call these people to task.

    Like

    majorbrauer

    October 5, 2013 at 08:46

  10. Wilson J., speaking for four judges of the Supreme Court of Canadain Reference Re Bill 30, an Act to amend the Education Act (Ontario), stated:
    It is however, well established today that a statutory power to make regulations is not unfettered. It is constrained by the policies and objectives inherent in the enabling statute. A power to regulate is not a power to prohibit. It cannot be used to frustrate the very legislative scheme under which the power is conferred.
    The authorized limitations and conditions prescribed by a subordinate authority exercising the power conferred by the enabling regulation cannot extend as far as denying categorically and completely the entitlement provided by the Governor in Council regulation CFAO 209-3, paragraph 18, by disentitling entirely the grievor from receipt of a very benefit mandated by the QR & O, is beyond the authority to prescribe conditions and limitations and is therefore invalid…The key question is whether this action was within the authority of paragraph (4). In answering this question, one must choose whether to pursue a restrictive literal interpretation, or a more flexible purposive interpretation, of paragraph (4) consistent with the goals of QR & O 209.997.
    A member is posted to meet the requirements of the service and, as a result, there is disruption associated with this posting. The CF provides a benefit package to alleviate this disruption. The objective is to minimize or eliminate out of pocket expenses. …”, like many other words in the English language, is capable of different shades of meaning, and in my opinion in construing a will, deed, contract, prospectus or other commercial document, the legal effect to be given to the language employed, is a question of law and in the construction of such a document, it is an error in law to attribute a fixed meaning to a word of variable connotation by selecting one of alternative dictionary definitions without regard to the context of the paragraph or sentence in which the word is used.

    [24] The Supreme Court has also instructed that an interpretation of a regulation is to be made having regard to the context of the statute and regulations and that which best fits their purpose. As stated by Iacobucci J. for the Court in Bell ExpressVu Limited Partnership v. Rex 2002 SCC 42 (CanLII), [2002] 2 S.C.R. 559 at paragraph 30:
    It is necessary, in every case, for the court charged with interpreting a provision to undertake the contextual and purposive approach set out by Driedger, and thereafter to determine if “the words are ambiguous enough to induce two people to spend good money in backing two opposing views as to their meaning”.
    (Willis, supra, at pp. 4-5)
    Ambiguity
    [43] It is, therefore, left to the Court to determine what was intended by the phrase “the total monthly income benefits payable to the member under the Pension Act (including dependant benefits and retroactive payments . . .)”. The task is not to interpret any particular word or phrase in isolation but, rather, in the context of the complete agreement and the surrounding circumstances. The search for meaning is performed by looking objectively for a common intention and one that achieves a fair and sensible commercial outcome for the parties.

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    majorbrauer

    October 5, 2013 at 08:19

  11. http://www.canlii.org/eliisa/highlight.do?text=contract+%22canadian+forces%22+crown&language=en&searchTitle=Canada+%28Federal%29&path=/en/ca/fct/doc/2005/2005fc1281/2005fc1281.html A principle of statutory interpretation requires that legislative or regulatory provisions, must be looked at, in the first instance, in isolation. If the meaning is clear, the resort to the larger context of the legislation or regulation, or resort or other interpretive aids, is inappropriate….A principle of statutory interpretation requires that legislative or regulatory provisions, must be looked at, in the first instance, in isolation. If the meaning is clear, the resort to the larger context of the legislation or regulation, or resort or other interpretive aids, is inappropriate….

    Like

    majorbrauer

    October 5, 2013 at 08:17

  12. The powers of the Treasury Board in relation to any of the matters specified in subsection
    (1) (a) do not extend to any matter that is expressly determined, fixed, provided for, regulated or established by any Act otherwise than by the conferring of powers in relation to those matters on any authority or person specified in that Act; http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/PDF/F-11.pdf

    Like

    majorbrauer

    October 5, 2013 at 08:09

  13. This week, the legal team at McInnis Cooper filed an application at https://healoss.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/applicant_s-written-submissions.pdf .

    So what?

    The Crown (Treasury Board) is insisting that they have no documentation that was before the decision maker when they denied the application for home equity assistance. This is their decision which is being challenged at Judicial Review.

    The Crown was directed by the Judge to provide copies of the information which was before the decision maker, and they did not even provide the information they referenced in the decision letter which can be found at https://healoss.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/edmonton_bon-accord_ab_2010_not_depressed_market.pdf

    What the TBS did not know, is that I and my legal team already have copies of ALL of the information which was before the decision maker, the staff officers, DCBA, the military, the CF Ombudsman, the Chief of Defence Staff and other affected members in their decision.

    Here is one of my favorite pieces of intelligence. Access to information provided the elusive “reference B”. This is the rationale for turning down the HEA applications around Edmonton. It is called the “Depressed Housing Market RLRS Analysis – Edmonton-March 2009 CF IRP. It is posted at https://healoss.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/a201200295.pdf and begins on page 6. This report from Royal Lepage identifies that for 2007 and 2008, and using only 12 CF sales in the City of Edmonton, the Home Equity Loss was between 2.9 % and 21.42% in EDMONTON.

    So, now the issue of definition of “community” comes into play. Prior years had towns considered as “communities” when HEA was approved. The policy wording has not changed. Even when the issue was brought forward, there has been no “clarification bulletin”. These are normally issued to provide clarity for both administrators and CF Families. Now, after 4 YEARS of knowing this is an issue, could not a definition of community be made (or other clarification) to prevent other families from undergoing the same fate? No.

    TBS used 2007-8 data to systemically deny all HEA applications between 2007 and 2010. When this was fought, TBS changed tactics and reverse engineered their decisions to continue to deny applications. This was done by swapping out the word “community” in the policy, with the term “area” in their decision letters : “for the purposes of the review, Bon Accord was considered to be part of the greater Edmonton metropolitan area”.

    This has been confirmed as not being in line with the purpose of the policy. Changing the terminology of a policy, just to ensure that personnel cannot obtain the entitlement is a blanket denial and is illegal. Further, it is beyond their delegated authorities:

    The TBS acted beyond their delegated authority as follows: Application of blanket denial of policy contravenes of the Financial Administration Act— AUTHORITY — TB — DELEGATION

    The Treasury Board delegates, pursuant to subsection 6(4) of the Financial Administration Act, to the Secretary of the Treasury Board, the Board’s authority under subsection 35(2) of the National Defence Act to determine and regulate payments that may be made to Canadian Forces members, for the following specific purposes:
    (a) to ensure comparability to payments that are authorized to be made to a public service employee in similar circumstances; and
    (b) to make minor amendments to the unique travel and relocation benefits that may be payable to Canadian Forces members, if the Secretary is of the opinion that the amendments will not change the essential character of those benefits.)

    No official amendments were ever made;
    All 146 applications between 2007 and 2010 were systematically denied by TBS;
    Treasury Board acted beyond their delegated authorities;
    The Canadian Forces Grievance Board Authority, CF Ombudsman and Chief of Defence Staff all concur;
    Military families continue to suffer from this injustice.

    Like

    majorbrauer

    October 4, 2013 at 22:37

  14. Maj,

    I’m watching your fight intently. I just got posted from the west coast to the east coast and stand to lose over 100 thousand on my house if it actually sells. If it doesn’t sell by the time the TDRA runs out, I’m not sure what we’ll do. I’ve been looking into options but there’s not a lot out there as you know. I wish you good luck in your fight (and mine eventually).

    Like

    Patrick

    October 3, 2013 at 09:53

    • Patrick. Please let me know how I can assist. Feel free to contact me at anytime, I may be able to steer you away from some of the pitfalls that impacted us.

      Marcus

      Like

      majorbrauer

      October 4, 2013 at 08:32

      • Patrick, I have been traveling this road with the Maj and I would offer Sp if you are looking for any document that may assist you.
        Maj – outstanding work Sir!!

        Like

        Old Sapper

        October 4, 2013 at 11:31

  15. Systemic Home Equity Assistance Denial – Military Families continue their fight 3 years on…

    Three years searching for justice. The journey continues.

    Today, I have learned that the Judicial Review has moved to the next step. The Crown indicates that the decision maker has no other information which was considered for the systemic denial of HEA denial (Brauer Written Reps). I’m a little surprised that TBS is admitting that they did not use anything to base their decision on.

    Note: We have moved to e-bay for fundraising and continue to sell off our assets to assist with the Soldier’s Justice Fund. See our site at http://www.ebay.ca/sch/penny-auction-stamps/m.html?item=190911391669&ssPageName=STRK%3AMESELX%3AIT&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2562

    See our website at https://healoss.wordpress.com/ for updates.

    Like

    majorbrauer

    September 23, 2013 at 22:13

    • I had no idea of the issues that you were facing as I rarely check the site except to endorse individuals I know. That is a horrible situation and wish I knew how to help

      Like

      Yolande

      September 24, 2013 at 20:13

      • Yolande:

        By engaging in the conversation and becoming aware of the injustice, you are indeed helping with the situation. Thank you for your concern and help us spread the word for fundraising.

        Marcus

        Like

        majorbrauer

        September 24, 2013 at 21:16

  16. After over three years of fighting, we have had a few months off from dealing with the HEA issue. Letting the legal team work and taking advantage of the TBS delay tactics has provided me with a strategic pause that I needed to focus on family, sell some stuff and concentrate on health and friendships. Last week I went out for a burger!

    I want to let everyone dealing with the issues of the systemic denial of Home Equity Assistance, that they are truly impressive representatives of the CAF. For these families to (for the most part) remain intact, continue on with their daily responsibilities and not take matters into their own hands, is a remarkable demonstration of patience and perseverance. I could not imagine any other organization which could have an employee bankrupted unnecessarily, and continue to devote themselves with unlimited liability.

    I encourage all of these families to focus on what is truly important in their lives, to let the justice system do it’s machinations, and hold out a little longer.

    I would recommend that you take time tomorrow to step back from the brink and do one thing that you enjoy, whether that is a movie, a cold beer or time with your newborn. The fight is underway and there IS hope. With the information contained on this website, everyone who has read it, discussed it or has engaged in it, openly supports us and is seeking to find solutions. If you cannot hold out, reach out. I am at your beckon call.

    Marcus
    (902) 466-4339 Anytime
    https://healoss.wordpress.com/

    Like

    Marcus Brauer

    September 18, 2013 at 20:57

  17. Just found an interesting site where our dockett is listed. This way you can see where the case is in court before I know! Please see: http://cas-ncr-nter03.cas-satj.gc.ca/IndexingQueries/infp_RE_info_e.php?court_no=T-1028-13

    Like

    majorbrauer

    July 19, 2013 at 22:21

  18. Standing Committee on National Defence; EVIDENCE Monday, May 27, 2013 from http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=6177983

    The Hon Jack Harris has put a motion to the Standing Committee of National Defence to study the systemic denial of home equity assistance.

    …”There’s also something that’s somewhat pressing involving the ability of the Department of National Defence to actually deliver on programs for Canadian Forces members. We’ve raised it before with officials from the department and with military personnel, but I think we’d like to have more of a detailed study done on this.
    So, Mr. Chair, I would like to move, pursuant to a notice of motion given March 19, 2013:
    That the Standing Committee on National Defence undertake a study of the operation of the Canadian Forces home equity assistance program, particularly the Canadian Forces Integrated Relocation Program to reimburse Canadian Forces members who have suffered losses on the sales of their family residence when transferred by the Canadian Forces to other locations, and that the Chair report this Committee’s findings and recommendations to the House”. (Jack Harris).

    Thank you Mr Harris and Mr Chisholm.

    Like

    majorbrauer

    June 25, 2013 at 21:38

  19. http://openparliament.ca/debates/2013/6/17/john-mckay-2/

    Question No. 1356 Questions on the Order Paper Routine Proceedings

    June 17th, 2013 / 3:25 p.m.

    Liberal : John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

    With regard to the ex gratia payments to Canadian Forces members in relation to the Home Equity Assistance (HEA) provisions: (a) how many members received a payment; (b) what is the rank of each recipient; and (c) what is the date and amount for each ex gratia payment that was made by the Department of Justice, Office of the Department of National Defence Canadian Forces Legal Authority, concerning HEA provisions, as governed by the Department of National Defence HEA, Integrated Relocation Program (CF IRP), between January 1, 2001, and December 31, 2013?

    Conservative: Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces searched their records and found no instances of ex gratia payments to Canadian Armed Forces members in relation to the home equity assistance provisions between January 1, 2001, and December 31, 2013.

    Like

    majorbrauer

    June 24, 2013 at 20:40

  20. National Defence Committee on June 5th, 2013 available at http://openparliament.ca/committees/national-defence/41-1/84/robert-chis/

    Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

    Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

    Colonel, it’s a pleasure to have you here today and to hear what you have to say. The service that both you and your organization provide for the men and women in the Canadian Forces who have been injured or ill, or who otherwise need your support, is extremely important.

    I want to talk to you for a second and maybe ask your opinion on what you would suggest on a matter that I’ve been dealing with for some time now in my constituency. It has to do with the home equity assistance program. You may be familiar with that. It’s a problem that’s been faced by a number of Canadian Forces families across the country.

    In particular, there’s a major in my riding whose family is imploding, frankly, as a result of the stresses and the pressures that have built up over his attempt to deal with this issue.

    Let me just briefly tell you that he has gone through the grievance procedure, gone through the regular channels. The Chief of the Defence Staff ruled in his favour, and said that he in fact should have been compensated for the loss that he and his family incurred as a result of a relocation. The military ombudsman likewise supported his position and identified the problems.

    Let me just say that he’s been fighting this issue now for five, six, seven years. This is one family out of approximately 146 families.

    Colonel, the burden that this has been to this member’s family…. He has five small children. I spoke to him yesterday. He was in tears. He’s been sleeping in his van. He had just gone downtown to hock his wedding band and his medals.

    What are we supposed to do about this guy? What are we supposed to do about his family? Why is the military allowing his family…?

    This man has served in Afghanistan, two different tours. He has 25 years in the military. He’s a major.

    Why does it have to get to this position? He’s been shown to be right. It’s been proven that the program is wrong. Why is he being left to hang out to dry? His family is basically being allowed to be destroyed.

    Can you comment, please?…

    Col Russell Mann

    Mr. Chair, thank you for the opportunity.

    I think I can give at least a partial answer, while acknowledging that compensation and benefits is an area of the department that, as the honourable Mr. Alexander has pointed out, is another part of the department, and the director general of compensation and benefits is in a position with the authority and responsibility to develop a home equity assistance program.

    Certainly home equity loss affects all families, and my heart goes out to this major and his family, who are clearly suffering. I would like to be able to do more for that family. One of the things I can tell you from my role in Military Family Services is that I hear from families all across the nation through many different means. When I become aware of a particular case, I ask my team to try to find any way at our disposal to deal with the conditions that are caused by military service. As I said, that includes relocation, and one of the consequences sometimes is loss on the sale of a home.

    We do have some means available to attempt to provide relief for members if we understand the full context. I would be more than willing to hear the full context to see if we can bring other services to bear within Morale and Welfare Services that are non-governmental but are intended to support families—for example, the military families fund, which is a fund of last resort for military families who are in distress and have nowhere else to turn.

    I think there may be a partial way to deal with the member to whom you refer, sir, but I do have to defer and say that the director general of compensation and benefits is in a better position to give you good information about home equity programming and policy.

    Like

    majorbrauer

    June 24, 2013 at 19:50

  21. Hello Advisor,

    In response to you submission above, I would like to clarify some of the comments that you made.

    Firstly, if a member chose not to sell their home and turn their residence into an income property, IRP would not cover the moving expenses,

    Secondly, a family should never be forced to separate as a result of a posting. There is enough separation already as a result of courses, training and deployments. Our kids at the time ranged in age from less than 1, 2, 6, 7 and 9 years old; and the distance of the move would not allow for weekend or monthly visits; literally across the country.

    Thirdly, Dual Residence – we were not willing to risk having to afford two mortgages and the maintenance of two properties at the same time, it was financially not feasible and may have resulted in a large loss. Dual residence was only offered for six months at that time.

    Fourth: No rental properties were available – we looked and tried to find one, there was over a 2 year waiting list for PMQs, My husband had been home for only 7 months from Afghanistan and it was our second posting in less than one year, yes, my husband received a posting message while deployed to Afghanistan. My husband loves the military and at the same time family is everything so another separation was not an option.

    So, while there are other ‘options’ available, they are not always feasible. We have no problem moving, it is a lot of work and it also offers the children an opportunity to live and visit different parts of our beautiful country. All that we ask, and the other affected families ask is that the government honour the policies it has set out to protect both the members and their families; no one and no family should ever have to suffer as a result of a posting, we have enough added stressors on us already. I would never have suspected that our Canadian government would show lack of integrity and honour towards the military and their families; it is disgraceful!

    Thank-you for your time, Juanita (Marcus Brauer’s wife)

    Like

    majorbrauer

    June 12, 2013 at 16:27

  22. I would like to expend on the options that all cf members are presented with when facing a potential HEA situation.

    1. They can “elect not to sell”, cashing out 80% of what the real estate commission would have been, based on the appraised value. This turns your residence into an income property and allows you to sell privately at any point.
    2. Proceed unaccompanied for any length of time necessary to sell the house at a reasonable price. This especially helps if you are posted outside posting season, when the market is not as active.
    3. Proceed as a family and take advantage of the temporary dual residence assistance offered through the IRP. This provides you again, more time to obtain a reasonable price.

    This is backed by the option to add a marketing incentive to attract more buyers.

    I would also like to add that 2007 market was inflated and a lot of cf members would have been better off avoiding purchasing a house. Renting a property, waiting it out and purchasing when it is back to normal would have been normal back then. It was great for cf members posted out! Some of them made more than 100K

    Unfortunately, a lot of military members lost equity and a lot also went IR and incurred TDRA. It is heartbreaking and I sure hope something is done.

    Like

    Advisor

    June 9, 2013 at 10:32

    • Hello Advisor,

      Thanks for posting your comments, but you list them as if they are all feasible options for military families.

      1) Temporary Dual Residency can lead military families into financial disaster. I have seen it happen! The funds run out, the property did not sell and now they are carrying two mortgages….

      2) Renting was not an option in Edmonton in 2007. The vacancy rate was 1%! The PMQ list was extremely long.

      3) Choosing to make your property into a rental is not an easy decision. Not every couple has the funds to cover off a property manager, repairs, rent if not rented out etc. Rental properties are a very risky option for some couples. Brookfield does not even give people time to really weight this an option. You only have 15 days to opt to rent instead of sell!

      4) Furthermore, Brookfield now refuses to pay mortgage breaking penalty fees. Thus, families who own a house, but are moving to a high cost area can be out thousands of dollars if they opt to break their mortgage and rent! A friend just paid out $9000 in penalty fees to break his mortgage rather than buy in Victoria. He was supposed to be at his present posting for 5 years. He was posted out to Victoria after 2.

      5) IR may seem like a feasible option, but not when you are opposite coasts. Families are separated enough and a once a year visit is not healthy for family dynamics. IR is also a large waste of the crowns money. DND was paying $1600/mth for an apartment in Edmonton plus separation expenses ($1000). Multiply that by 2 years and they paid out close to $45000 not to mention the LTA.

      This family met the Brookfield definition for 100 percent reimbursement. It needs to be honoured plain and simple. Treasury Board is only rejecting them because they are worried more people will file and they have not put in place the funds to reimburse a large number of people.

      It is also time that this policy is re-examined. Military members move when and where they are told, but we should not be going into debt just by trying to put a roof over our families head.

      Like

      Anonymous

      June 15, 2013 at 20:52

  23. Find below the initial action. Fundraising now at 25%.

    C’mon folks!

    https://healoss.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/applicant_s-written-submissions.pdf

    Like

    majorbrauer

    June 7, 2013 at 19:40

  24. Please consider assisting us with fundraising for a judicial review. Donations can be made at our website at http://www.gofundme.com/Home-Equity-Assistance or mailed direct in order to minimize our service charges of 10%.

    To date we have raised $3,650.

    The systemic home equity assistance denial does not affect a lot of people but those it does effect, does so in a severe manner.

    Have a good weekend.

    Marcus Brauer

    Like

    majorbrauer

    May 3, 2013 at 16:18


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