I wanted to take the opportunity to respond to the recent Letter from Royal Canadian Legion Dominion President Patricia Varga.
The mental health and well-being of Veterans and their families is a priority for our government. The fact is, our government has doubled our number of Operational Stress Injury clinics that provide services to veterans, serving members and their families suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Today, between VAC and DND, we have 17 specialized clinics across the country.
Veterans Affairs Canada is helping more than 14,900 Veterans with mental health conditions and their families
Suicide prevention is a priority for this government, and we are using the results of the recent Statistics Canada survey to see if there are ways we can improve the programs and services we provide to Veterans and their families. (The study included information specific to Veterans and Canadian Forces members so that we can better understand the risks, and create better solutions.)
In addition to doubling the Stress Injury Clinics, we have also invested $189 million over the next five years to make significant enhancements to the New Veterans Charter. With these changes, our most ill and injured Veterans will receive the care and support they need. We supported the Helmets to Hardhats program in Canada which helps connect our Veterans with high paying job opportunities in the construction industry. Just recently our Government announced that we accept the Federal Court decision on long-term disability benefits for Veterans. Not only did we accept the ruling but we went even further to harmonize our disability benefits at Veterans Affairs to reflect the planned changes to Service Income Security Insurance Plan (SISIP). Most importantly, we are continuing with our Cutting Red Tape initiative which provides our Veterans with the hassle-free service they have asked for without cumbersome red tape.
Our Government's strong record since 2006 is a stark contrast of that of the Liberal Government which cut 11% of the Veterans Affairs budget in 1995. This impacted the benefits and services provided to our nation’s heroes. They cut support to Allied Veterans and health care benefits. Our Conservative Government has spent the last six years correcting mistakes made by the previous Liberal Government. In 2010, we took action to restore benefits to those Allied Veterans whose support was cut off under the Liberals. Our Conservative Government has taken action to undo their wrongs. We have substantially increased funding and support to our Veterans and their families and we will continue to stay the course.
Our Government will continue to stand up for those who served and those who continue to serve our great country today.
Leon Benoit, MP