Veterans Ombudsman Urges Government Action on Critical Issues
October 2, 2014 - Ottawa, Ontario
Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent is pleased that the Minister of Veterans Affairs’ agrees with “the spirit and intent” of the vast majority of the recommendations put forward by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs in its report on the New Veterans Charter, The New Veterans Charter: Moving Forward.
“Whether one agrees or not with the Minister of Veterans Affairs response to the Committee’s report, one cannot deny that it represents forward movement on critical issues for Canada’s Veterans and their families,” said Mr. Parent. “However, I am concerned with the timetable of the phased approach being pursued by the government.”
While all or part of ten of the Committees’ recommendations are planned to be quickly achieved in phase one within existing authorities and budgets of Veterans Affairs Canada and the Department of National Defence, the implementation of the four recommendations that represent substantive change is being delayed until “additional inter-departmental work, budgetary analysis, and coordination with a wide range of federal departments, as well as with the Veterans Ombudsman and Veterans’ groups” can be done.
“Budget for these four substantive recommendations must be included in the Government’s 2015 Budget or change will not happen for several more years. That would be unacceptable to ill and injured Veterans and their families who have already waited too long for Government action on these issues,” said the Veterans Ombudsman. “I am ready to roll up my sleeves and start working today with the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Affairs Canada officials and Veterans groups to ensure that we do not lose this hard fought for momentum now.”
“Furthermore, to ensure that the substantive recommendations are included in Budget 2015, I encourage the Minister of Veterans Affairs to actively engage the President of the Treasury Board and the Minister of Finance so that they understand the importance and urgency of targeting budgetary funds for these areas,” commented Mr. Parent.
“In fact, I believe that it is so critical to ensure that these substantive issues are included in the next federal budget that a whole-of-government approach must be taken. Therefore, I urge the members of the Veterans’ community across the country to put the case to their local Members of Parliament and key Cabinet Ministers that it is essential that the Government of Canada commits funds and programs to support these gaps in its 2015 Budget.”
“This is not a theoretical exercise,” said Mr. Parent. “There are real Veterans out there, with real needs that need action now. Every day we wait to fix these problems is another day they have to suffer needlessly.”
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