Re: “Benoit must support troops for more than photo ops” (Letter to the Editor, News Advertiser, July 9, 2012)
Once again, I have been moved to respond to false, misleading attacks by the Liberal Party on the issue of veteran affairs. It is quite surprising that the Liberal Party is so vocal on the issue – after thirteen years, their government stood behind a shameful record of mismanagement, neglect and “sustained significant cutbacks” to our armed forces. It is regretful that they are so adamant about the issue now, six years after leaving office.
Canadians can be confident in our commitment to our brave men and women in uniform. For the past six years, our Conservative Government has worked to right the wrongs of our predecessors. We have invested an additional 27% – or $5 billion – to provide the best tools, resources and assistance to members and their families. We have followed through with support to all sectors of the Canadian Forces. Our efforts have resulted in the delivery of transport and tactical aircraft for the Royal Canadian Air Force, making an effective difference in their missions within Afghanistan and Libya. We have taken steps to modernize our Canadian Army’s Light Armoured Vehicle III fleet, and deliver new Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicles and Leopard II tanks. In addition, we’re supporting the Royal Canadian Navy with the building of new ships across Canada. There is still much to be done, but Canadians recognize our accomplishments – accomplishments that have created thousands of jobs across our country, assisting in our economic recovery.
But, perhaps the most disturbing aspect of Mr. Casey’s letter is his attempt to mislead Canadians on the issue of mental health. In the past six years, our Conservative Government has ensured the existence of a strong support network for ex-Canadian Forces members and their families.
Today, the Canadian Forces have approximately 378 full-time mental health professionals and are working to hire more. In fact, when compared to our NATO allies, the Canadian Forces has the greatest ratio of mental health care workers to soldiers. In addition, our Government provides mental health care through 38 primary care clinics and detachments and 26 mental health clinics across Canada, and support is provided throughout the entire career and deployment cycle of a Canadian Forces member. The Department of National Defence has invested millions in new technology and infrastructure to better support and care for our troops, and has dedicated funds to further enhance these efforts in the years to come. In addition, the Canadian Forces and Veterans Affairs work together to ensure that current and former military personnel receive continuity of care throughout the treatment process.
Canadians know that our Government’s commitment goes well beyond “photo-ops.” It’s time for Mr. Casey and his Party to step up to the plate for Canadian Forces members and veterans, and stop twisting the facts in an attempt to hide their own failed record. I am always proud to vote along side a Government that understands the sacrifice that our brave men and women in uniform make, and our all-important commitment to them.
Thank you for the opportunity to set the record straight.
Leon Benoit, MP