For Veterans' Sake, Let's Keep Moving Forward
Ottawa, Ontario - December 3, 2014
I welcomed last week the 2014 Fall Report of the Auditor General’s chapter on Mental Health Services for Veterans because I believe that any time a fact-based and objective report that focuses on a substantive Veterans’ issue is published, we are one step closer to resolving it.
Since June of this year, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs (ACVA) published its report on the New Veterans Charter – The New Veterans Charter: Moving Forward – which backs the call for action that I put forward in my October 2013 report, Improving the New Veterans Charter and its Actuarial Analysis. In addition, two other reports were also released that addressed Veterans’ transition issues – the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence’s Report, Caring for Canada’s Ill and Injured Military Personnel, and the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs’ Report, The Transition to Civilian Life of Veterans.
This leaves little doubt in my mind that the point of no return has been reached. The research and investigations have been done; the recommendations have been made. The time for action is now to resolve current shortcomings in the support offered to our ill and injured Veterans. While I am encouraged by the Government’s response to both the ACVA Report and its response to the Auditor General’s Report, I am concerned that competing interests may overshadow the Government’s current good intentions and postpone action that is needed now.
Therefore, I call upon the Minister of Veterans Affairs to redouble his efforts in engaging the President of the Treasury Board and the Minister of Finance to provide the necessary funding to address the deficiencies in the New Veterans Charter. I also call upon Veterans Affairs Canada to continue moving forward with its change agenda and finally, I invite members of the Veterans’ community across Canada to continue to engage their local Members of Parliament and Cabinet Ministers on the need to implement the recommendations of the Government’s Action Plans. It is essential that federal decision makers understand the importance and urgency of targeting budgetary funds to address the deficiencies in the New Veterans Charter. It is also essential that these funds be committed in the 2015 Budget.
I believe that there is real momentum now … the kind needed to bring about real change for Canada’s ill and injured Veterans and their families: It is momentum that I do not want to see lost. When you come right down to it, I believe that this is a sentiment shared by all government officials, whether politicians or public servants, as well as by Veterans’ stakeholders and advocates who have worked so hard over the past few years to resolve the substantive issues that are causing frustration and hardship, especially to our most vulnerable Veterans and their families.
Support to Veterans is not a theoretical exercise: there are real Veterans out there, with real needs that need action now. Every day that we wait to fix these problems is another day they have to suffer needlessly and a day that we may lose another one of our own. We can’t change the past, so let’s focus our efforts on making a real difference today and into the future. I and my team stand ready to work with the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Affairs Canada, Veterans’ stakeholders and advocates, and Veterans and their families to ensure that what needs to be done…gets done. Our Veterans deserve no less!
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