In a recent letter, MP Mark Strahl notes that the government has made investments in new funding for benefits for veterans and their families, but what he doesn’t point out is that any new funding the government has committed is spread over many years.
It also doesn’t make up for cuts to front-line services for veterans.
In fact, the government has cut the budget for Veterans Affairs Canada by $129 million since 2011. A further $132 million in cuts are planned by 2016. In total 784 jobs will be cut nationally including case managers, client service agents, disability pension officers, nurses and administrative staff who process claims. Here in BC, the government has closed the Veterans Affairs office in Prince George and plans to close the office in Kelowna in January 2014. This will force veterans in those communities to rely on 1-800 numbers or the Internet to get help accessing the services they need and deserve. Many vets are unable to do this or have complex issues that cannot be simply solved over the phone. By making it difficult or impossible for some veterans and their families to get help, the government’s investment is meaningless.
Instead of engaging in a partisan attack on the Liberal Party in the media, I would urge Mr. Strahl to talk with veterans so he can better understand the challenges they face.
Veterans from Chilliwack and I have asked for a meeting with Mr. Strahl to discuss the issue. We hope that as a Member of Parliament with a large number of constituents who have proudly served in the Canadian Forces, he will work with us to ensure that veterans have full access to the services provided by VAC offices.
Executive VP for British Columbia
Public Service Alliance of Canada