Despite Government's Promises, Veterans Issues Abandoned in 2010.
“Without substantive and enduring cultural changes to the system that mistreats our veterans, however, to any promises of improvement are as shallow as Brian Dyck's final breaths.” Col. Patrick Stogran, 26 October 2010.
These were the words Canada's 1st Veterans Ombudsman, Col. Patrick Stogran, used to describe the effects of any proposed legislation without substantial changes in the manner Veterans Affairs Canada operates. Brian Dyck died approximately 2 weeks after Prime Minister Harper personally announced veterans afflicted by ALS a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease would be provided support through Veterans Affairs Canada. Tragically, Mr. Dyck succumbed to this insidious disease before receiving the support he and his family so richly deserved.
There would be other unsavoury revelations, foremost being the criminal violations of Capt. Sean Bruyea’s and Col. Stogran’s confidential VAC medical records. And many others, apparently. Yet justice, months later, has yet to be served. Considering the government’s illusory Tough on Crime mantra, it is profoundly disappointing to note the government has yet to accept their responsibility as members of Parliament and instruct the RCMP to launch a criminal investigation. Are those who committed these crimes above the law? Just who is Minister Blackburn protecting and just how high up the government chain of command do these criminal violations go? One law, one nation!
The government also made several promises to veterans since 26 October, 2010. Minister Blackburn would repeatedly claim he has heard veterans’ voices and through his corrective legislation, they would acknowledge and address the hardships. Important financial supplements, measures necessitated through the consequences inflicted through the enactment of the New Veterans Charter in 2006, would ensure that 2000 veterans would be accorded a minimum salary of 40000 (pretax). 3500 veterans who were denied financial supplementary programs in the past (WHY?) would now be eligible for the ELB.
Truly, the seriousness of the adversities would be profoundly highlighted by the creation of the $1000 Catastrophic Injury Award, the baseline PRE-TAX salary of $40,000, changes to the eligibility criteria for the Permanent Injury Award and the Earnings Loss Benefit. The government would propose $2 billion yet contradictorily, these funds will not be retroactively provided to the very veterans the legislation was designed to support. Tragically, none of these reactive measures would have been required had parliament not abandoned this nation’s lifetime responsibility for Canada’s Sons and Daughters through the enactment of the New Veteran Charter in 2006.
Over 140 Canadians have died since the enactment of the New Veterans Charter.
There have been an estimated 3000 casualties.
Sadly, there are serious flaws within the proposals Minister Blackburn and Minister MacKay have announced. First, these proposals are not retroactive and as such, incomprehensibly; do not provide financial relief for the very veterans these proposals were designed to assist! Secondly, despite the need for urgent reform, despite the acknowledgment of so many disabled veterans currently living in substandard conditions, the government did NOT address the issue within the flurry of bills pushed forward during the last week of 2010’s Parliamentary session.
There will be no financial respite for disabled veterans by next spring as many prayed. Those who have been seriously injured in the service of Canada will continue to suffer unnecessary financial hardships until the government presents Parliament the opportunity to enact Minister Blackburn’s inadequate, non-comprehensive solutions. Should there be an election this spring, any action on the Veterans file will be delayed until a new parliament is sworn in months later. Canadians must understand that every month the government allows to pass without addressing these resolutions is another month that the thousands of disabled veterans Minister Blackburn's legislation was created to financially assist will continue to live in substandard conditions.
Do you believe this reflects the lifetime standard of dignified support Canada is obliged to provide to those we have deployed into harm’s Way, to those we have deliberately exposed to the consequences of war? Single, double, triple amputees? Those who have sustained terrible injuries, the maimed, blind and deaf? Those who have been psychologically impacted? I would encourage Canadians who support our troops and veterans during this time of war to contact their Minister of Parliament and demand the restoration, through nonpartisan legislation, of the lifetime obligation parliament abandoned in 2006. It only takes a moment to call or e-mail, the addresses are available online. Feel free to simply copy and paste this letter.
Do something! Together, we can make a significant difference.
Michael L Blais CD
Founder, Canadian Veterans Advocacy.
Niagara's Falls, Ontario