Member's News

Will Budget 2017 Help Veterans?

This text was authored by Guy Parent, Veterans Ombudsman, and originally published in The Hill Times on Monday, February 20, 2017.

A year ago in The Hill Times, I challenged the status quo to “go beyond today’s ideas and shape tomorrow by clearly defining Veterans’ outcomes – the end results that we want to achieve – and figure out the steps needed to attain optimal results for Veterans and their families.”  

A year later, with Budget 2017 on the horizon, have we made progress and begun to clearly define the results that we want to achieve for Veterans and their families?   

I believe that Budget 2016 improvements are making a positive difference in the lives of Veterans and their families. But, I also believe that there is still much to do.

To add perspective to this viewpoint, I recently conducted a review of the Government’s response to the recommendations made by my Office since its inception.

Out of the 57 recommendations that were developed in collaboration with Veterans’ advocates and organizations, 37 have been fully or partially implemented and 20 are waiting to be addressed. Six of the items in the Minister of Veterans Affairs’ Mandate Letter are based on my recommendations, and three of these were addressed in Budget 2016 – increasing the Earnings Loss Benefit to 90 percent and the Disability Award to $360,000, as well as changes to the Last Post Fund.

There are still outstanding recommendations that would make a significant impact on the lives of Veterans and their families should they be implemented:

  • Retroactive reimbursement of treatment benefits for Veterans, covered under the New Veterans Charter, while they are waiting for a decision from Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC);
  • Adequate compensation for primary caregivers of seriously disabled Veterans;
  • The overlap between SISIP and VAC income support and rehabilitation programs creates unnecessary confusion and needs to be addressed; and
  • The implementation of a Veterans ID card. (I hear about this from Veterans at my outreach events and town halls. After five years, VAC is only now exploring options.)

I would also like to see action on:

  • Closing the seam for our serving members as they transition from military to civilian life;
  • Reducing the complexity of VAC programs and services;
  • Improving VAC’s service delivery approach; and
  • Increasing the financial well-being of Veterans so that they have enough money to meet their needs if they can’t work because of their service, and if they can work, to adequately compensate for their pain and suffering. 

So, when it comes to Budget 2017, I hope it will address several of the outstanding recommendations that came from the collective work effort of the Veterans’ community over the past several years.

My fellow Veterans and I know that there will be many competing priorities for funds in the upcoming Budget. Veterans have earned Canadians’ respect and gratitude for their service – including putting their lives on the line for Canada – and deserve the best care and support that we can give. We will be watching to see if Budget 2017 ensures better results for Veterans and their families.

Guy Parent
Veterans Ombudsman

http://ombudsman-veterans.gc.ca/eng/blog/post/343

Letters of Support for 150th medal

From : Don Ethell, Col (ret) OC, OMM, KStJ, AOE, MSC, CD
Former Lieutennt Governor of Alberta (2010-2015)

Dear MPs et al

I write to you to express my displeasure and disappointment in the alleged decision by the Minister of Culture, Madam Melanie Joly who apparently has stated that there will be no issue of a 150 medal honouring our 150th anniversary.

 I find that decision – by a relatively newly elected MP, and junior Minister to make such an autocratic decision without any consultation with Canadians – to be appalling.  We Canadians, including many, many veterans and serving members have been justifiably proud of these medals, including the 100th and 125th) – and think Canadians should be so recognized for the 150th.

 I’m also advised that allegedly the Cdn Mint no longer produces medals, apparently due to cost savings, and as such if a medal was authorized that it would have to be produced ‘off-shore”.  Once again, this information is incorrect as we have an outstanding Foundry in Gatineau PQ (owner Joe Drouin, a retired Sgt-Major from the R22eR (Van Doos).  Joe has produced many-a-medal and serves as the epitome of excellence.  Additionally there is another Foundry in Edmonton which could produce medals and replicas.

 I solicit your support in contacting your Federal colleagues in an effort to change Madam Joly’s appalling edict.

 Further, to me it is very surprising that neither the Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Honourable Kent Hehr, nor the Minister of Defence the Honourable Harjit Sarjjan, OMM, MSC, CD have expressed their displeasure of Madam Joly’s announcement– at least publicly.  They are supposed to represent us.

 Please advise

 I remain your obedient servant,

 Don Ethell, Col (ret) OC, OMM, KStJ, AOE, MSC, CD

--------------------------

From: Dave W. Palmer, CD, KStG

Subject: Re: I solicit your support in contacting your Federal colleagues in an effort to change Madam Joly’s appalling edict.

     I wholeheartedly concur with Colonel Ethell's position on the Canada 150 Medal and the fact that it was well underway to becoming a medal until after the election in the fall of 2015 and it was abruptly cancelled! That is like cancelling tradition and the opportunity to honour thousands of Canadians, most who have had significant roles in building this nation and many who will not be with us in another 25 years when Canada celebrates its 175th anniversary. What a golden opportunity to leave many Canadian families with a lasting legacy to be handed down from generation to generation to have family medals that show the importance and significance the Canada 150-Medal would illustrate for those that have contributed in many ways to this great nation and to the many thousands of veterans who have done what most Canadians will never do, and that is to volunteer to serve.

     I am sure that the Former Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, retired Colonel Don Ethell, OC, OMM, KStJ, AOE, MSC, CD,  can most definitely appreciate the frustrations of thousands and thousands of Canadians and veterans who for a decade have dreamed of being formerly acknowledged and honoured for volunteerism as were their ancestors. In recent years as many of you know our Commonwealth allies, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand have all issued honours for their veterans going retroactive some 60 or more years to 1945, but not Canada.

     Our veterans, many who at one time or another may have even served longer than their ancestors of yester-century, but still have not a single medal to wear for their conviction to volunteer. These long established traditions to recognize and honour worthy acts and decisions to volunteer a portion of one's life in service to their nation are hardly routine. Yet that is what responses to the efforts to get our veterans a volunteer medal are being indicated, and this is a slight to our ancestors who did received a volunteer medal . . .  more or less saying their volunteerism was routine and unworthy. Volunteerism by our veterans of yesteryear, yesterday and today is no less significant than that of our ancestors and is is wrong to say it is. 

Warmest and sincerest regards, God Bless our veterans and our troops and their families.

I support the Canada 150-Medal and have always fought for the revival of the Canadian Military Volunteer Service Medal (CMVSM) for our veterans and our troops.

Yours too in remembrance of those that volunteer to serve,

Dave W. Palmer, CD, KStG

 

Mandatory Registration for Vimy 100th Commemorative Ceremony in France

As you know, April 9, 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The Government of Canada will mark this anniversary and commemorate the sacrifices of the First World War with a ceremony on April 9, 2017 at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France as well as at events across Canada.

Safety and security are paramount to this ceremony, therefore registration is mandatory. If you do not register in advance, you will be denied access to the site. Registration ends on February 28, 2017 or earlier if capacity has been reached.

 If you plan to attend the ceremony in France, we encourage you to register without delay. Attendees will need to provide a printed copy of their official e-ticket and government-issued identification, such as passport or drivers license, on the day of the event.

 Accommodations in the area are already heavily booked. We strongly recommend that you reserve your accommodations as soon as possible.

For planning purposes, there will be site restrictions between April 1 and 10, 2017 at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial due to event preparations. Visitors should note that the site will be closed April 6 to April 9. The site will reopen on April 10 at 9:00 am with restricted access.

To register, please follow the instructions found at: Vimy 100 Registration. If you have questions about the registration process, please email VAC.Vimy2017.ACC@vac-acc.gc.ca or call 1-866-522-2122.

For more information about the commemorative events, please visit Canada.ca/vimy-100 regularly as information will be updated as it becomes available.

For information about traveling to France, please visit Global Affairs Canada's Travel Advice and Advisories page for France.

 We will do our best to keep you information about events happening across Canada.



Direct Deposit Payment Statement for their Canadian Armed Forces Pensions. 

Veterans have just recently received their Direct Deposit Payment Statement for their Canadian Armed Forces Pensions. In at least two cases, under the PSHCP-RSSFP box an error has been recorded. On my statement it reads $9.64 instead of $96.40. If you use your health care premium as a deduction for income tax, you will have to contact the Government of Canada Pension Centre at PO Box 9500, Matane QC. G4W 0H3, to have them correct this statement. 


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