Funds for veterans, not unionized staff

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While columnist Lana Payne (“The politics of hate,” Feb. 22) and other union officials have often tried to paint the closure of eight under-used Veterans Affairs offices as austerity, this could not be further from the truth. In fact, our government has increased funding for veterans services by $4.7 billion since 2006. 

The simple fact remains that the offices in question were underused and that the resources that were devoted to them can be better used delivering front-line care for veterans — not for administrative offices, as preferred by the unions.

This was never about money, but about directing resources directly to veterans’ services.

While the author’s extremely negative rhetoric may serve to win her some political points in the union movement, she unfortunately fails to mention that our government has actually made huge increases in spending on programs for veterans.

Since 2006, we have increased the Veterans Affairs budget by billions of dollars.

And over 90 per cent of the department’s budget goes directly to services, instead of being tangled up in a costly unionized bureaucracy, as the author would no doubt prefer.

We have also listened to those who rely on us for services and support. When veterans and stakeholders spoke to us about concerns in their communities, we assigned a permanent Veterans Affairs expert to the eight locations in question to ensure veterans continue getting convenient access to the assistance they need.

In five out of eight communities, those employees work out of the very same buildings they did previously.

Our government’s focus has been on opening or strengthening front-line medical and rehabilitation centres over more administrative offices. And the simple reason is because veterans have told us they want to make fewer trips downtown to fill out forms.

As a result, we have set up or bolstered 17 front-line Operational Stress Injury Clinics and 31 Integrated Personnel Support Centre locations where veterans can get the medical assistance they need.

We will keep making the responsible decisions needed to ensure Canada’s veterans get the assistance that they require and deserve.

Julian Fantino

Minister of Veterans Affairs


Organizations: Veterans Affairs, Integrated Personnel Support Centre

Geographic location: Canada

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Recent comments

  • Anna
    February 27, 2014 - 13:04

    This is the man who kept the Veterans waiting at a meeting they had set up with him and when he entered proceeded to act like an idiot yelling for no reason. He later apologized because he was told to not that he wanted to. The sooner this government is defeated, the happier I will be. They have no respect for Canadians unless it is the Corporate world. For him to write this letter denouncing his own Federal Workers tells you what type of human being he is. He only got the job because Harper had no where else to put him, he is certainly not qualified for it.

  • Leo Stamp
    February 26, 2014 - 23:54

    Any person who believes what the EX Cop Fantino or harper has to say belongs in a padded room. They are both very exceptional liars, and any other adjective you might think of.

  • Jay
    February 26, 2014 - 16:43

    I'm not a member of a union, but this letter by Julian Fantino is one of the most vindictive, condescending, letters I've ever read from a Member of Parliament. Rather than deal with facts or issues, he launches into a personal, contemptuous attack on the writer. Unfortunately this distaste for this province's electorate is not new. I still remember Vic Toews idiotic response when he was asked about a Federal Penitentiary and the other idiotic response about search and rescue from a Conservative MP, whose name, I can't remember. Hopefully, this crowd of bigots will be gone in the next Federal election

  • saelcove
    February 26, 2014 - 10:25

    the people working as union officials make one hell of a lot more than veterans

  • New Veteran
    February 26, 2014 - 09:19

    Once again, Minister Fantino demonstrates a lack of ability to read what he has written. Quote: "the offices in question were underused and that the resources that were devoted to them can be better used delivering front-line care for veterans — not for administrative offices ... This was never about money, but about directing resources directly to veterans’ services." Read your own words because closing an office and reducing employees is about money. Quote: "our government has increased funding for veterans services by $4.7 billion since 2006." I'd like to see proof of that, however, I'm certain it should have increased. At approximately 3500 Canadian personnel deployed every six months since 2003, there are 70,000 (70 thousand) new Veterans to care for and that costs money. Minister Fantino, you probably actually believe you are helping Veterans, and some of them, the ones you cannot possibly deny, are actually getting help. However, I served 37 years, had the Crown destroy X-rays and remove documents from medical files and then deny claims. I've not seen solid evidence of VAC wanting to help or assist Veterans despite Veterans Review and Appeal Board (VRAB) section 39 stating "the Board shall (c) resolve in favour of the applicant or appellant any doubt, in the weighing of evidence, as to whether the applicant or appellant has established a case." If they ever accept a claim, the VAC is not too bad. But you first have to get past the VRAB and they provide more resistance and are worse for a Veterans health than the Taliban.

  • f
    February 26, 2014 - 08:12

    Julian Fantino must be drinking from the same coffee pot as the guy who runs Canada Post because that's the same thing he said about the termination of door service....."the seniors told him that they wanted to get more exercise" and Fantino is saying " they want to make fewer trips downtown to fill out forms" what fiasco waiting to happen this is. Goes to show when you get a position in government and start enjoying the perks, it's all about not upsetting the applecart or the big kahuna and trying to keep what you have. I watched a documentary on the Blue Puttees.....and a statement on the DVD can be applied to what's going on today. Cliff Chadderton stated that there was such disaster becasue those who were making the decisions were doing it in sandboxes, on paper and from 20 miles BEHIND the frontlines where it all looked good.......but the history books speak for themselves in how all that turned out. Same thing going on with Ottawa one is looking at the REALITY of all this decision making it's going to affect old and new veterans in the long run. Shame on you Jullian and shame on this government for the treatment of our soldiers at a time when they need us most. They stood for you but you are standing for no one only yourself, they signed on the dotted line to protect this country so you and others like you can enjoy yours political perks and pension. Everyone knows no one or very few are going to get the proper services at the end of a phone where it's press one for this and two for that....I feel bad for all those out there who served and are now feeling cheated. As for Julian and those like him, becareful who you step on when you are at the top as you never know who might need on your way back down.

  • Ed Power
    February 26, 2014 - 07:42

    The Minister must be in fantastic physical condition from all the spinning he does. Someone should look at hooking him up to a dynamo and a boiler. There's a powerful amount of green energy being wasted here.

  • Chantal
    February 26, 2014 - 07:15

    Wow. "Unionzed beurocracy," "negative rhetoric." It's al about the union movement, eh? If there's any doubt about the government's hostility towards its own unionized workers, you've made it very clear where it stands, Julian. I know from first-hand experience that the veterans are not getting the services they need, then again, neither are more and more Canadians. Sure, but blame it on the unions.

  • Joe
    February 26, 2014 - 07:01

    If you have injured soldiers returning from a WAR, I would expect that you would have to increase services for VETERANS. This is not an increase in service to existing veterans. Perhaps the "Minister" should stop trying to accuse the conservatives poor performance and get down to doing some work to help these veterans.