In a recent letter to the editor, Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney claimed that his government was “Standing up for veterans.” I think it is fair to say that this Conservative government has actually sat down on many veterans’ issues.
Take for example a recent class-action lawsuit. This Conservative government spent six years and $150 million fighting disabled veterans in court. The Conservative government now intends to fight RCMP veterans in court over a very similar issue.
The Conservative government has cut $246 million from the Department of Veterans Affairs budget, will eliminate 2,100 staff and close nine district offices across the country by 2014.
For the veterans’ funeral and burial program, more than 20,000 applications were rejected — a refusal rate of approximately two-thirds. Eligible families only receive up to $3,600 to cover their funeral costs and the Conservative government has made no funding increases since 2001.
With respect to the Veterans Independence Program, many spouses of deceased veterans still do not have access to this program even though Stephen Harper promised in 2005 to “extend VIP services to widows of all Second World War and Korean veterans.” Mr. Blaney should give Joyce Carter of St. Peter’s, Cape Breton a call about this.
It’s time for our federal government to do much more for veterans and their families.
member of Parliament
official opposition critic for