Once again, Veterans Affairs wastes taxpayers’ money to ramp up self-grandiose propaganda. Mike Blais explains it fully in his message to members of the Canadian Veterans Advocacy. More than ever Canadians need to support our vets in this unethical drive to misrepresent their claims to the public. BONNIE
Minister Blackburn’s cross-country tour to nowhere.
One can only wonder why Minister Blackburn and his staff are going through such exorbitant expense of an eight city, cross-country tour considering the press-release stated reasons the journey has been designed to highlight. Thousands of disabled veterans living in substandard conditions these past four years have good reason to be disappointed with the government after Minister Blackburn’s well-publicized promises to provide legislative relief were subsequently ignored during the dying days of 2010’s parliamentary session. Despite months of promises, despite the government’s acknowledgment 2000 disabled Canadian veterans urgently require relief through Minister Blackburn’s proposed a $40,000 minimum annual income base, despite the fact that 3500 veterans will not qualify for the proposed changes to the ELB, have received nothing but shallow promises that fail to address the serious hardships they have suffered as a consequence of the New Veterans Charter.
Further discouraging is the fact that none of Min. Blackburn’s financial relief proposals are retroactive. Every month the government delays implementation on this file deprives these 2000 veterans of over 600000 dollars and will continue to deprive them of this relief until the proposed legislation passes through Parliament and the Senate. Should there be an election this spring, the delay of legislative relief for these veterans could very well extend into next year, depriving serious injured veterans millions upon millions of dollars and inflicting untold hardship. Is this fiscal conservatism? Do Canadians understand the consequences?
What precisely are these improvements deserving of a cross country trip that will undoubtedly cost tax payers thousands of dollars at the expense of the VAC budget? First, improving the standard time for rehabilitation eligibility requests to two weeks from four weeks? Admittedly, this is an improvement BUT… Considering the VAC’s dedicated staff, why are disabled veterans waiting any more than 72 hours for approval? These rehabilitative measures have been ordered by doctors and specialists who have been entrusted to our disabled veterans care? Why does it take two weeks for a bureaucrat to render a decision on a doctor’s professional opinion? What medical qualifications do those who make these decisions have that they can over rule the veteran’s primary physician?
Secondly amongst these so called important announcements is news that veterans will have less paperwork to complete when applying for VIP services. Golly! Then there was the claim that 20 caseworkers have been added in areas of high demand, something that was announced already last fall around the time Pembroke Hospital abruptly discontinued care for hundreds of veterans from nearby CFB Petawawa. Last amongst these important announcements was the fact that veterans will now only have to wait for 2 min. before speaking to a VAC representative through a national call center. One vet I mentioned this to immediately joked that they must have moved the call centre to India… another claimed they will simply answer the phone in two minutes then put you on hold for an hour.
Of course, it would be very unfair to management/staff at Veterans Affairs Canada, those Canadians who do deserve credit for these administrative improvements, were I not to acknowledge their efforts and compliment them for improving the efficiency of their departments. Bravo Zulu. Now we can only hope the Minister will exhibit this same devotion and focus on improving the serious issues that are confronting our troops and veterans today; the grotesquely unjust lump sum payment for Canada’s sons and daughters should they be injured in combat, the widows tax, the claw back of pension at age 65, rectified through parliamentary vote via Bill C 101; democracy denied to RCMP officers and veterans through governmental intransigence. The SISIP LTD claw back on 6500 veterans pensions, an issue that will move forward through the courts compliments of a Supreme Court Ruling in veterans favour after the government spent millions of tax-payers dollars to prevent Canada’s sons and daughters from exercising their legal right to unite to stand tall against this unjust practice?
How about focusing on providing care and compensation to ALL Canadian veterans adversely affected (CANCER) from exposure to Agent Orange and not just those who were in Gagetown for seven days 1966 and 67. Prime Minister Steven Harper promised justice for all veterans affected by Agent Orange during the 28 year program when he was in opposition, now five years later with an election looming, is it not too much for veterans to expect the PM do the honourable thing and fulfill his promise them?
Michael L Blais CD.
Founder, Canadian Veterans Advocacy
Niagara Falls, Ontario