Canadian veterans have put their lives on the line for our country. Our veterans deserve our respect and access to the services they need.
My New Democrat colleagues and I have great respect for our veterans. We thank them and their families for their selfless service and sacrifice. I have personally advocated on behalf of our veterans in the House of Commons on multiple occasions, on issues such as lifetime pensions, long-term care facilities, and increasing support for veterans’ spouses.
The Conservative government left more than $1.1 billion of funding unspent for veterans, which had been approved by Parliament, and they also closed nine regional offices across the country. In the Liberals’ first three years in power, the government left another $372 million unspent, even as service levels continued to deteriorate and Veterans Affairs failed to meet the department’s 24 self-identified service standards.
This is absolutely shameful. Veterans in my riding, and across Canada, are fed up with being denied the services they were promised. Veterans should not have to wait 6 months before receiving the benefits they rightly deserve or be put on hold for hours or redirected half a dozen times before they speak to the right person when calling Veterans Affairs.
Last November, the House of Commons unanimously adopted my colleague Gord Johns’ (MP for Courtenay-Alberni, and NDP Critic for Veterans Affairs) motion, which called on the Department of Veterans Affairs to carry forward all annual lapsed spending into the next fiscal year, for the sole purpose of improving services for Canadian veterans.
New Democrats know that veterans and their families deserve better. We must commit to ensuring veterans and their families are well cared for and receive the services and support they are entitled to. This means the Department of Veterans Affairs, in its effort to look after those suffering from physical and emotional trauma, must provide more effective and supportive case management and work to reduce the longer and longer wait times.
I will continue to stand up for veterans’ rights and watch that the government honours its agreement so that no more money budgeted for veterans goes unspent when it is in clear need.
Veterans have helped shape the history of our country, solidifying our reputation around the world as a nation that upholds human rights and stands steadfastly to protect the most vulnerable. Canadians recognize there is a moral, social, legal and fiduciary obligation to care for the men and women who have bravely served in Canada’s military.
We must ensure our government is there to provide equitable financial compensation and support services to past and active members of the Canadian Armed Forces who have been disabled or have died as a result of military service, and to their dependents.