Treating veterans with dignity

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Last month, Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent identified serious shortcoming in the supports available to injured veterans and their families. In his words: “We either deal with these issues now or we are going to have to deal with the cost later.” I could not agree more.

That is why I was disappointed to hear Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino say that with respect to meeting the needs of veterans and their families, his government “is also being mindful of our responsibility to the Canadian taxpayer.”

This Conservative government mindful of the responsibility to the Canadian taxpayer? What a joke!

This government wasted $50 million on a G8 slush fund in Tony Clement’s riding, spent over $25 million on Economic Action Plan advertisements, and continues to fund an outdated, undemocratic Senate rife with spending scandals at a cost of $100 million per year.

Fighting veterans in court

This Conservative government also spent $35 million on legal fees and six years fighting Dennis Manuge and injured veterans in court over an unjust clawback to their disability pensions.

The federal government is now fighting veterans in two more court battles — injured RCMP veterans over disability clawbacks and injured Afghanistan veterans over the level of financial support under the New Veterans Charter.

As a further affront to veterans, the Harper government plans to close nine Veterans Affairs offices in smaller communities by 2015 as a cost-cutting measure.

This will force veterans to travel long distances to other cities for service, or rely on impersonal websites, phone apps and call centres.

This type of impersonal service is a huge barrier for many disabled veterans.

This government must start paying more than lip service to show their support for veterans and their families.

Taking great risks

The men and women who join the Canadian Forces and the RCMP have accepted unlimited liability, knowing they may be called upon to risk their lives on behalf of Canada to uphold democracy, peace, security and human rights here at home or around the world. 

In turn, the government and people of Canada have a sacred obligation to care for and support those who hazard their lives in service to our country — from the moment they sign up to the moment they pass away, including a dignified funeral and burial.

Reference to this sacred obligation or social contract is found in most legislation that defines the benefits and services available to our veterans.

I know that Canadian taxpayers support better benefits and services for veterans and their families.

They want to ensure that veterans are treated with dignity and respect and have access to hearing aids, wheelchairs, home care, long-term care, career transition support, financial support and retirement security.

They do not want this Conservative government to balance the books on the backs of veterans and their families.

It is time that this government restore its sacred obligation to veterans and their families and make immediate improvements in benefits and support.  

 

Peter Stoffer is an MP and official

opposition critic for Veterans Affairs.

Sylvain Chicoine is an MP and deputy

opposition critic for Veterans Affairs.

Organizations: Veterans Affairs, RCMP, Canadian Forces

Geographic location: Canada, Afghanistan

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Recent comments

  • Cashin Delaney
    November 08, 2013 - 03:51

    I spoke to a few vets in Ottawa this spring. It is not good. What does it take to get through to this government. It seems like we are part of a social experiment; let's see what it takes to make Dislocated Disposable Canadians immolate themselves! The countries New Vet lists in his comment, four dandy spots these days. So much better, these places, for all of the 'experiments' the 'Allies' of democracy have carried out there. Mainstream Journalists afraid to go long or deep, just run the sidelines, look at me, I'm an imported star, I got a steady job doing next to nothing, writing for myself on the side, puttin my scraps in the paper. The Telegram is edited In fear. I don't blame them. I am afraid to publish this with my real name. I am a troll. I am a Fed Crown employee. I tried to pick a good fight with Harper (I worked in mining then) when he reversed the policy (introduced by liberals) of flying the red white and red at half-mast; that was the only letter to the telegram editor I ever wrote. I am an anarchist. I am not an Antichrist, too often. I do not vote. I am very far from apathetic. Why would I snap to attention because Canadian soldiers are being disrespected and ignored? The NDP are celebrating human rights progress for transgendered and gender expressionists. Does that mean anything, when patriot soilders are left to rot and (if the experiment is a final success) burn? I almost got in a fight an hour ago, getting of night shift, stopping at paradise Irving getting a half gallon of milk. Drunk young fella, I could have broken his world, if my nature was like this government. Would have crushed his face and taken security DVR with me with my license plate rolled up. For what? I could have scooted off like a coward. I didn't do that, the best way to not to get hurt. Walk away. Why didn't I do that? Why did I look at that young skeet and respect his humanity enough to set him straight. Why would I bother? Why don't I hate Harper? I'll tell you why, because he shares a theological turpitude with me; we both kidnapped the holy host. Granted, I did it as a 12 year old arsehole, he did it as a man, at a true statesman's maritime funeral mass. Crass bastard, what? I can't shame him for it. Not at all. I had mine with peanut butter, after my rituals were complete (no one knows where his is). My final remark is, these guys, like Harper (passiveaggressive) and Ford (aggressivestupid) draw the moral champions, and intellectuals, down upon them, only to play victim; to seize power. Base Power. This is why politics is wrestling is media. I can't tell Ben Mulrooney from Justin Trudeau, Ford from Hogan or Harper from Ayn Rand. If we don't speak out, who will? The Iron Sheik? My point is, let's can the ham acting, the over reacting, the vileness. I have done my share tonight, some mother doesn't have to look at a melted-boot face on her son this weekend over Sunday dinner. The telegram should be able to figure out who I am. Reprint that open letter to Harper, if you can find it. It is a strong, moderate message, so, not being hyperbole though, it may have just drifted away like X-rays often do. What is the solution. Beyond me, but I have a few inklings. It is not, and has never Been Turpitude.

  • Pierre Neary
    November 07, 2013 - 16:00

    This is a new level of low by the Harper Government.

  • New Veteran
    November 07, 2013 - 13:45

    Nice sentiment, but, not going to happen. I encountered less opposition in the Former Yugoslavia, Lebanon, Haiti and Afghanistan than I have right here in Canada. I've been fighting Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) for 17 years now and their most recent response was that because they could not view the original x-rays, they could not grant the claim. I carried those x-rays back to Canada when I was flown home for my 4th surgery and gave them the Canadian Forces Medical staff in Ottawa. So, I gave them to the Crown. The Crown lost or destroyed those x-rays and now the Crown, VAC, tells me that because they cannot view what they destroyed I'm SOL. That's how Veterans are treated.