The Last Post Fund and caring for veterans

by Aaron Wherry

Stephen Harper declined to directly address the matter of the Last Post Fund this weekend.

“Let me just say that government of Canada puts as you know a very high priority on care for our veterans. This government has made enormous, billions of dollars worth of investments in programs particularly for the most needy veterans,” Harper told reporters at a news conference with the Philippine president Benigno Aquino.

“Obviously those programs are under constant review and we will continue to assess their suitability going forward.”

Yesterday on West Block, Tom Clark asked Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney about the treatment of veterans, including the Last Post Fund. Here’s the transcript.

Tom Clark: Well let’s talk about the people that are being honoured today and you know I go to the comments of the former Chief of the Defence Staff, General Walt Natynczyk, and the Veterans Ombudsman and the Auditor General of Canada have all said the same thing, that we are not doing enough when it comes to mental health for our veterans.  Why aren’t we?

 

Steven Blaney: Well we sure are doing and we can always do more.  And that’s why I’m very proud today to stand by our Canadian Armed Forces and Minister MacKay, who have done tremendous [outreach] in reaching out to our soldiers who need it the most, especially those returning from Afghanistan and peacekeeping mission by having…

Tom Clark: But Minister, these are the very people though that the former Chief of the Defence Staff, the Auditor General and the Veterans Ombudsman say are not getting the help that they need.

Steven Blaney: Well they do get a lot of help through our Operational Stress Injury clinics.  Did you know, that we have at this very moment, injured soldiers who have been through post traumatic stress, who are working within the Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada? And they are able to deal with soldiers to soldiers and say, I can help you, I know where you’ve been through, let’s work it out together and see how can our government, our department, and our specialists… You know we’ve just hired more doctors, more nurses, and more psychiatrists so we can get some help to those that need it the most, whether physically or mentally.

Tom Clark: So when it comes to burial for veterans who have fallen on hard times, 67.4 percent of the applicants for the money for burials are turned down. Why is it that somebody who fought for this country has to fight for a decent burial?

Steven Blaney: Well this program is, the Funeral and Burial program, is for our injured veterans in need. This is an important program because our veterans deserve to be well treated and at their very last day they deserve to be buried properly…

Tom Clark: Are they getting enough money?

Steven Blaney: Since they put their life at risk…

Tom Clark: Right but 67 percent are being rejected in terms of coming (Blaney – yes) up for money.  The cap has not been raised for 10 years (Blaney – it’s true) on this program. 

Steven Blaney: Well you know we certainly can work every day to improve the quality of the service we are providing to veterans and that’s why with this particular program, more than 10,000 veterans have benefited from it since 2006, and when we include the funeral and the burial assistance it can go up to twice or three times as much as what you’ve just referred to.  But what is most important is every day we need to strive and as a government and as a country to improve the quality of services we are delivering to our veterans and that’s why we are investing large amounts, but we are investing ourselves in what we call the New Veterans Charter. 

Tom Clark: You were cutting your budget by $36 million dollars by 2014, are you going to put any more money into the funeral program? Are you going to put any more money into health care, mental health care as has been called for by some of the top people in the military? Are you going to basically say, anybody who fought for this country does not have to fight at the end of their lives for decent burial, decent care, a roof over their heads or a job?

Steven Blaney: Tom, every week, every month, every day, we are improving the service to our veterans.  And we are investing more than $3 billion dollars in our veterans’ health and we are also doing one thing; we are into cutting into red tape.  And who has asked me for that, veterans.  They say Steven, we are fed up by filling those forms, like what we call… this is a program… you would get fed up to send me a bill every time you have to take care to wash your window or do some house cleaning in your house. This is over now. We have moved to upfront payments. We have eliminated millions of transactions; routine administrative tasks, wait that’s over.  And now our veterans get upfront payment. Yesterday a veteran came to see me and say Steven; this is the right way to go. Cut the red tape and maintain and improve the benefits. You know what, that’s exactly what we are doing and we will strive to do because that’s what they deserve.




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The Last Post Fund and caring for veterans

  1. A lot of rhetoric about treatment of veterans! As far as I am concerned there cannot be enough done to honour their commitment to our country and its’ people. I would like to comment on an issue that has bothered me for many years. In Remembrance day services across the country I am appalled at the cheap cardboard wreaths that are laid at cenotaphs, especially in Ottawa, the nations’ most prominent memorial to those who gave so much. Cannot, the high officials, such as the Governor General at the very least, lay a live, natural wreath to commemorate veterans? I applaud all those who take the time to lay a wreath and appreciate that not all wreaths can be real; however, in Ottawa, where thousands of Canadians are present, or watching from home, it would be nice to see at least one beautiful, handcrafted wreath instead of one taken out of a cardboard box and recycled year after year. This may seem a minor grievance but is one that is important to me.

  2. I love Tom Clark.

  3. Ooo – Steven Blarney forgot to mention the 21 Billion $ NDP carbon tax. That is why there is no money for our veterans. We need it for important stuff, like monuments.and the War of 1812.

    • and gazebos border security

  4. The claim that “every week, every month, every day, we are improving the service to our veterans” would, on the basis of anecdotal evidence, appear to be one of their more egregious lies.

  5. “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel” – Samuel Johnson.
    This government loves to accuse anyone who opposes their decisions on deployment or procurement as “not supporting the troops.”

    What is painfully apparent is that this government only considers active troops worthy of support.

    Hypocrites and scoundrels all.

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