Author Topic: Can We Trust a Veterans Affairs Minister That Doesn't Even Know Who a Veteran Is  (Read 23082 times)

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Sylvain Chartrand CD

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Can We Trust a Veterans Affairs Minister That Doesn't Even Know Who a Veteran Is?

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/jeff-rosemartland/canada-veterans-affairs_b_4103494.html

Posted: 10/16/2013 2:43 pm



Newly-minted Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino hasn't exactly been winning friends recently. Nor his influence on veterans been inspirational, except in the way that an emetic inspires. It appears the Honourable Minister is in over his head with his portfolio... or perhaps gagging on it... as mere months after his appointment -- and before he has even taken his seat -- veterans are demanding his resignation. Fantino has been handling the issues at Veterans Affairs with all the grace of a newborn moose on ice skates.

First up: the Government's appeal of the Lump-Sum Lawsuit.

This is hardly Fantino's fault -- the case, legal arguments, and probably the decisions to appeal, preceded his appointment. But he's the guy charged with defending to Canadians the decision to waste even more of our money fighting our veterans in court. Trying to explain away the inexplicable position of his government, Fantino maintains the party line that veterans' issues should be settled in the Commons while simultaneously arguing that the Harper Government isn't bound be decisions of previous ones. The Legion calls the government's position 'reprehensible', taxpayers are backing the veterans, and Fantino is now the focus of the anger.

Next issue: the closures of VAC offices.

This also predates Fantino's appointment. The Harper Government has decided to trim its spending by closing Veterans Affairs offices in such remote locations as Corner Brook (NL), Charlottetown, Sydney (NS), Saskatoon and Windsor, Ontario. This decision has veterans and civil servants united to save their local office, where a veteran can go and receive help in person. Instead, the federal government -- in the person of Julian Fantino -- is promoting the new Veterans Affairs smart-phone app.

The impact on veterans is easily predictable.

But what really has veterans riled are Fantino's comments on Vancouver's CKNW radio earlier this month.

In an interview with Bill Good, the Honourable Minister demonstrated some fundamental ignorance of his stakeholders:

"I spent 40 years in law enforcement. I too have served. I've been at the trenches and heard the guns go off. I guess I can also put myself and other colleagues, firefighters, and police officers who put themselves in harms way every day in the same category."

If you'd been listening attentively, you might have heard the vast cry of obscenities as people nationwide discovered that the Minister Responsible doesn't understand what makes a veteran a veteran.

That is not to take away from the dedication and sacrifices of civilian police, firefighters, or other first responders. All Canadians, including veterans, recognize the amazing - sometimes heroic - contributions made by these fine individuals as they protect and save people and communities. They do fantastic work and should be commended for it. But that's not the point. The point is that they are not veterans.

Minister Fantino obviously was a dedicated career police officer. I'm sure he did witness some horrible things. And if he says he heard gunfire, who am I to say otherwise? (Although I suspect he was being metaphorical in at least one claim. The last time I checked, police didn't engage in trench warfare, not even with very bad gang situations.) But the fact is, the Honourable Minister is not a veteran, does not qualify as a veteran, and, no matter how big his sacrifices, could never be considered a veteran, because of one simple fact:

Julian Fantino did not agree to be ordered to die.

It is that fact which separates civilian services from military and paramilitary organizations like the Canadian Forces and RCMP. It is known as 'unlimited liability' and means that, as a serving member, you agree to follow orders even if that order is to die. As in: Go throw yourself on that grenade! Refusal to do so can, and likely will, result in jail time. Civilian services are not under such constraints. That is what makes them not-veterans.

Which isn't to say that a first-responder wouldn't make such a sacrifice. We see them do risky, death-defying things all the time, sometimes even sacrificing their lives for others. But the point is that they are not required by law to do so. They might be asked to, they might volunteer to, they might feel compelled by circumstance, but they are not under threat of prison for refusing. The Forces and RCMP are.

That is what makes them veterans, and Minister Fantino, not...

Unless they are planning on seriously revising VAC to include anyone who sacrifices and endures hardship for the public good. If that is the new definition, then VAC better hire more staff, because there's a whole lot of civilians who are injured and killed while executing their jobs. Not just first responders: doctors and nurses attacked by patients or contracting illnesses they are treating; game wardens accidentally shot during hunting season; snow removal drivers killed in accidents... how many does Fantino intend to include in this new definition?

Obviously, the Minister didn't intend that every person who dies or is injured in service to the public is a veteran. But what he did was imply that injury or death is required for one to be considered a veteran. That may be a convenient definition for a government intent on saving money on the back of our veterans, but it's a silly notion for nation that requires a military. By the Fantino definition, someone might serve 20 years in the Forces, receive many medals, but, because they escaped injury, they are not a veteran. He can't have meant that, can he?

Who knows what he meant. In a few sentences, the Minister muddied the waters so much that only one thing was clear: Fantino, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, doesn't know who a veteran is.

Which prompted Canada's veterans to call for his resignation.

In case you are still confused (many are, now), here is how you become a veteran: You enlist in the Forces or RCMP; sometimes other groups like the Merchant Marines, or perhaps more in the future. Upon enlisting, you take an oath of service. That oath means you agree to go where you are sent and do as you are told, even if that means dying. Failure to comply means dismissal, disgrace, and probably prison -- not too long ago, it could mean execution. Your sacrifice begins immediately: you give up your free will to your country.

You are now a veteran: if you get run over on your way home from taking the oath and are incapacitated for life, your benefits will come from Veterans Affairs. Even if you did not get the opportunity to do anything, you still made the commitment. They also Serve who only stand and wait, Minister Fantino. A veteran is one who took an oath to die if ordered or be severely punished for refusing.

There's another way of putting this. This definition is used by many veterans:

    A veteran - whether regular or reserve, active or retired - is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank cheque made payable to "the Government of Canada," for an amount of "Up to and including his life."

In fact, that definition is even used by the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman:

    We ask of everyone who puts on the uniform in defence of our country to be ready to pay the ultimate sacrifice. In recognition of that bond, they write a blank cheque to the people of Canada up to and including their lives.

But perhaps the Minister wishes to change that perception. After all, it's cheaper to focus only on the injuries -- which the veterans themselves must prove -- than to honour the sacred covenant. We citizens of Canada agreed to look after those who served us. They sign that blank cheque to us; we agree to provide for them, with the same conditions. This is something else Julian Fantino doesn't understand. In the same interview, he stated, "I don't have a blank cheque, and neither do Canadians, to do everything that people want."

Sorry Minister, it doesn't work that way. Unlimited liability means unlimited responsibility. If Canada can't provide for its veterans, then we are not entitled to create any. In which case, your Government shouldn't be boarding up Veterans Affairs offices -- it should shut down recruiting stations.

Dreamerscott

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That is such a good explanation of a Veteran....so the way I see it is we have the Chairman of VRAB who has a extensive background as a crown lawyer going(not exactly a person you would want working with injured Veterans)  after the poor of the poor.
Now this is beginning to shape up...we have a VRAB Chairmen who goes after the injured VET. and now we have a minister of Veteran Affairs who served with Toronto Police as Chief.
When you have a Minister and chairman of VRAB with an extensive  background in criminal law and this combined with a MVA trying to lower the status of Veterans by marginalizing the Veterans and comparing them to every group out there and taking away the special meaning of what a  Veteran is.
We need to keep getting involved.
All the best everyone as I will be moving from Edmonton to Stoney Creek Ontario on the 8th. of November. I am trying to get set up now for the moving date and I will be off-line starting Nov. 8th for a few weeks.
Please help those Veterans who are trying to help you and stay true to them...
Murray Scott

FredfromCBS

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Thanks Jeff.

When I doubt my service, I look back over the 34 yrs of relatively dangerous places I've served. Now I can embrace the sentiment of the phrase, "[...we wrote] a blank cheque to the people of Canada up to and including [our] lives." And if I got broken doing it, I deserve the support of my country for breaking me....

critter928

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Why are we trying to drive more wedges into what defines a veteran?

RCMP are veterans too, and are served by VAC the same way members of the CF or Merchant Marine are. Always have been. One only needs to visit the VAC website to see it.

One of the quotes in the article in reference to "unlimited liability" as told by the Veteran's Ombudsman tries to paint it as something only soldiers agree to, yet if you read Guy Parents view on unlimited liability he clearly included RCMP as writing that cheque too (and also having it cashed).

http://www.ombudsman-veterans.gc.ca/media-presse/post-eng.cfm?SP=1

Issues that affect VAC service to veterans affects RCMP members as well, because RCMP members are indeed veterans and served by VAC.

As a former member of the CF, and current member of the RCMP, these issues affect us all and we should be building bridges and stand united against the shortcoming with VAC, not picking silly fights of semantics over the Ministers choice of words (which in his defence are technically more correct than the author of the article above, as RCMP are also veterans who fall under his portfolio and VAC). 
« Last Edit: October 17, 2013, 01:42:40 AM by critter928 »

FredfromCBS

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No wedges at all critter. You just didn't follow the article. The author stated that RCMP and Merchant Marine were/are veterans....

Sylvain Chartrand CD

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Canadians support vets, government does not
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2013, 07:07:25 AM »
Canadians support vets, government does not

Sharon Desousa, The Windsor Star | Oct 25, 2013 | Last Updated: Oct 25, 2013 - 9:03 UTC

http://www.windsorstar.com/Canadians+support+vets+government+does/9081866/story.html



In a press release dated Sept. 26, 2013, by Julian Fantino, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, he states that "Our Government remains fully committed to providing veterans with the support they need to lead successful lives beyond their service to Canada in uniform." (http://cnw.ca/Rmgh2)

These words, however, are not reflected in the government's decision to close down nine Veterans Affairs offices across Canada in February of next year. Two of those offices are located here in Ontario, one in Windsor and the other in Thunder Bay.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada represents workers at Veterans Affairs, who provide much-needed support to veterans. Yet, with the closure of these offices, veterans in the Windsor area will have to travel two hours away to the next closest office located in London, Ont.

Veterans in the Thunder Bay area will have to go even farther, nearly 10 hours away.

Our members who offer support in case management, family support, career transition services, rehabilitation and assistance in attaining disability and health benefits are heartbroken knowing that these veterans are being abandoned.

Through the government's 2012 budget, Veterans Affairs was forced to cut 784 jobs and its budget was slashed by 20 per cent. These drastic cuts are counter to the government's claims that veterans are receiving the support they deserve.

For many veterans who suffer from mental health issues or have disabilities, they require front-line services and case managers to assist them. A phone number or web page is not adequate in addressing their needs.

Furthermore, PSAC represents Service Canada workers who have stated time and time again that they do not have the necessary training or information to help veterans. Yet, the government continues to state that Service Canada is an adequate solution.

Veterans Affairs case managers used to be able to regularly visit veterans at their homes to better assess their health and well-being. This practice is no longer common place and veterans who cannot leave their homes or are too proud to disclose their true living situation can easily be left without the care they deserve.

On behalf of veterans living in the Windsor and Thunder Bay areas, I ask that the government reverses its decision to close these offices. Canadians support their veterans and the government should not be looking for cutbacks at the expense of our heroes.

Sharon Desousa

PSAC regional executive vice-president - Ontario, Toronto

Sylvain Chartrand CD

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Prime minister is breaking his promise to veterans (Sydney River Elementary)
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2013, 08:34:56 AM »
Prime minister is breaking his promise to veterans

Letters to the Editor (The Cape Breton Post)
Published on October 22, 2013

http://www.capebretonpost.com/Opinion/Letter-to-the-Editor/2013-10-22/article-3436819/Prime-minister-is-breaking-his-promise-to-veterans/1

To Prime Minister Stephen Harper: Why are you closing the Veterans Affairs office in Sydney? It is important to us because these people fought for our freedom.

The least we could do is give something back. It is disrespectful to close the office because of all the veterans have done for our country.

This is a place that offers counselling and support, and helps anyone who has been of aid in a war-torn country.

If we close the office, the people who work there will lose their jobs. Money isn’t as important as health and happiness. We all know that you are closing this for the money. Well you shouldn’t. These people are in need of help.

If we didn’t have an office here, the veterans would have to travel to Halifax. They may need help right away, and may not be able to travel so far away.

We need to keep the Veterans Affairs offices open. Just think: You are giving up on the veterans and breaking your promise. How do you feel about that? You promised that you would be there for them from the day they started in the military till the day they died.

Our friend Dylan Gale's father is a veteran. He went to many places to help people, and how do you repay him? You are closing the Veteran Affairs office. It’s heartbreaking.

We are in Grade 5 and we are telling you not to close it. Take it from us, the youth. We owe our lives to our veterans. We wrote this letter on behalf of all our classmates.

Emily Turner, Janna MacLean, Dylan Gale and Melissa MacInnis, Grade 5B

Sydney River Elementary

Sylvain Chartrand CD

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Veterans must be heard
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2013, 02:38:58 PM »
Veterans must be heard

| Oct 25, 2013 | Last Updated: Oct 25, 2013 - 9:04 UTC

http://www.windsorstar.com/Veterans+must+heard/9081966/story.html

letter of the day Re: "Veterans' needs will be met," Oct. 10, letter by Julian Fantino Mr. Fantino's letter doesn't change the way Veterans Affairs is administering to the needs of our veterans in Windsor and Essex County. The sentence in the last paragraph of his letter just about sums it up - "being mindful of our responsibilities to the Canadian taxpayer."

The Canadian government is falling short of responding favourably to what our veterans are asking with respect to providing for their care.

It is just not enough to attempt to provide essential quality of life services to our veterans at an arm's length, especially when the majority of our veterans (who are on their own with no family support) cannot deliver their requests via the Internet.

Moreso, to expect our veterans/families to call Veterans Affairs only to have them navigate through the system (that requires the patience of Job) is less than acceptable.

Additionally, mobile apps through Service Canada's 600 locations is not a "doable" alternative for our veterans.

These systems only heighten the frustration and disappointment our veterans are struggling with each and every day of their lives.

Anyone who even attempts to think these levels of service are sufficient has no real idea what our veterans are going through here in Windsor and Essex County.

The voices here in Windsor and Essex County are not being taken seriously by Veterans Affairs.

Although Mr. Fantino's announcement that Canada will "support" the comprehensive review of the New Veterans Charter is a "grand" effort to "make a statement," our veterans need (and deserve) to have their requests dealt with in person from an accessible location here in Windsor. Anything else falls short.

If what Mr. Fantino is saying - "our veterans deserve no less" - truly and indeed represents the vision of our government to provide for our veterans in a positive and

timely manner, then stand by this and give our veterans the respect they deserve in appreciation, recognition and honour of their service to Canada - for their sacrifice to ensure that society continues to enjoy those basic liberties that are denied to so many the world over.

Our veterans fought to preserve those freedoms that make Canada the peacekeeping nation (envied by many) that it is, to raise our families - to build our futures for this generation and those to follow.

As such, we owe our veterans a debt of gratitude.

I wholeheartedly encourage families in our communities to join me in continuing to take an active role in remembrance by supporting our veterans.

Make your voices heard to Veterans Affairs by whatever means available. Please don't stand on the sidelines and wait for someone else to make the first move.

What we accomplish today will make a difference in the lives of our veterans tomorrow.

ANDREA GRIMES

Windsor

Sylvain Chartrand CD

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Veteran Affairs service agent to remain in Kelowna
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2013, 07:37:01 PM »
Veteran Affairs service agent to remain in Kelowna

    by  Kelowna Capital News - Kelowna Capital News
    posted Nov 28, 2013 at 1:00 PM— updated Nov 28, 2013 at 2:14 PM

http://www.kelownacapnews.com/news/233773011.html



Local MP Ron Cannan was happy to announce a partial victory today to the complaints locally about the federal government's plan to close the Veterans Affairs office in Kelowna.

While the office closure is proceeding, Cannan says Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino has now stated a veterans affairs client service agent will remain stationed in Kelowna, working out of the Service Canada location, 206-471 Queensway Ave. in the downtown core.

Cannan said he along with his staff have worked on this idea since the February 2014 deadline to close the office became known.

"I am pleased to report that the minister of veterans affairs…has listened to our concerns and today has announced that a veterans affairs client service Agent will remain and be available at the Kelowna Service Canada location to assist veterans with their benefit applications, answer their questions, and help them get access to services," Cannan said.

"By having an experienced veterans affairs staff member in the Service Canada building, veterans who want to speak personally to a veterans affairs staff member will again have that opportunity."

Cannan added it will also be important to reinstate proper signage to ensure that local veterans know that face to face assistance is available at Service Canada location.

"Our government is dedicated to ensuring veterans and their families have the support they need, when and where they need it, from coast to coast to coast," Cannan said.

"This supports Canadian Veterans in communities like our own and enhances a number of personalized benefits such as home visits by a registered nurse or case-manager, and help with home maintenance including grass cutting, snow clearing and home cleaning services.

"In addition, all other ongoing services and support continue to be provided, including ongoing home visits for those Veterans who are seriously injured, the toll-free service offered through our National Veterans Contact Network and the range of payments provided to veterans going through rehabilitation and transitioning into civilian life."

But while Cannan's praised Fantino's decision, the president of the Union of Veterans Affairs Employees, Yvan Thauvette, says it will be impossible for client service agents to replace the services offered at a veterans affairs office.

It is impossible for eight client service agents across Canada to make up for the 89 frontline office workers being put out of work by plans to close veterans affairs offices in Kelowna, Cornerbrook, Charlottetown, Sydney, Thunder Bay, Windsor, Brandon and Saskatoon.

"This government is betraying the more than 17,000 veterans who rely on these offices for front line services," argued Thauvette. "It simply isn't possible for one worker to make up for the number of front line workers being lost when these offices close. For example, how is one worker going to make up for the loss of 13 who serve 4,200 clients in the Sydney office?"

Ron Clarke, a Sydney veteran who has been at the forefront of the veterans fighting the office closures, said veterans have not had any input into Fantino's decisions. "To go ahead with this without even talking to us first is an insult," Clarke said.

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Veterans’ Affairs critic to speak at rally against DVA cuts

Journal Pioneer staff
Published on January 08, 2014

http://www.journalpioneer.com/News/Local/2014-01-08/article-3568192/Veterans%26rsquo%3B-Affairs-critic-to-speak-at-rally-against-DVA-cuts/1

CHARLOTTETOWN – The New Democratic Party of Prince Edward Island is organizing a rally this Friday against the ongoing cuts at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Peter Stoffer, MP for Sackville-Eastern Shore in Nova Scotia and Official Opposition Critic for Veterans’ Affairs, will be the guest speaker.

“Our veterans deserve more than just our respect. They deserve ongoing services provided by DVA front-line staff,” said Mike Redmond, leader of P.E.I.'s NDP. “Let’s all show our support for our heroes like we do on Remembrance Day.”

The rally will be held Jan. 10 at noon on the second floor of the Royal Canadian Legion on Pownal Street in Charlottetown.

A Member of Parliament since 1997, Stoffer's contributions have earned him the Veterans Ombudsman Commendation Award for advancing issues on behalf of veterans and their families. He was also recenrtly voted MacLean's magazine's Parliamentarian of the Year for 2013 by his House of Commons peers.

“We are very concerned about the cuts to front-line staff,” concludes Redmond. “We need the Charlottetown district DVA office to be appropriately staffed with case workers who can continue to help P.E.I. veterans and their families.

"The federal government needs to get its priorities straight.”


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Veterans urge legislative committee to appoint veterans advocate
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2014, 05:30:12 PM »
Veterans urge legislative committee to appoint veterans advocate

    Published on February 17, 2014

http://www.capebretonpost.com/News/Local/2014-02-17/article-3618503/Veterans-urge-legislative-committee-to-appoint-veterans-advocate/1



eterans listen intently as the provincial Standing Committee of Veteran Affairs discuss the impact the recent closure of the Veteran Affairs Canada Office in Sydney has had on the local veteran community. The committee held an emergency meeting in Membertou on Monday.
By Caelin Coleman, Special to the Cape Breton Post

MEMBERTOU — The provincial legislative standing committee of Veterans Affairs voted to stall a motion which asked the committee to support the creation of a Nova Scotia Veterans Advocate, in an emergency meeting held in Membertou today.

The decision came after the committee heard from veterans affected and concerned by the recent closure of the Veterans Affairs Canada office in Sydney.

The veterans advocate would report directly to the minister of military relations for the province, and advise what steps need to be taken to replace the services lost by the closure of the office.

The committee heard testimony from local veteran Ron Clarke, before opening the floor to comments from the veterans in the audience, including 93-year-old Second World War veteran Charles Palmer.

"The veterans from the Second World War, which I am one of them, would have great difficulty going to Halifax. I'm 93-years-old," said Palmer.

"Most of my colleagues from that particular war couldn't make it here today. Now someone tell me - how are they going to make it all the way to Halifax?"

More to come.

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Veterans Affairs minister says he doesn't owe Charlottetown another meeting
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2014, 02:09:29 PM »
Veterans Affairs minister says he doesn't owe Charlottetown another meeting

Dave Stewart
    Published on February 25, 2014

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2014-02-25/article-3627080/Veterans-Affairs-minister-says-he-doesnt-owe-Charlottetown-another-meeting/1



MP Julian Fantino says he already met with Mayor Clifford Lee but councillors say there's no documentation from meeting

© The Canadian Press

Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino answers a question during question period in the House of Commons in Ottawa last month. FILE PHOTO

Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino isn’t apologizing for declining an invitation from Charlottetown council to meet over job cuts and the closure of the district office.

Fantino responded Monday to a recent story in The Guardian that stated he refused to meet with council.

City council passed a unanimous resolution last month calling on Fantino and Island MP Gail Shea to meet with council and explain the decision to close the district office and trim more than 200 jobs. Coun. Mitchell Tweel, who moved the resolution, wants the meeting open to the public and media.

However, Fantino said there was no need to meet with all of council after he had “a frank discussion’’ in January with Mayor Clifford Lee, administrative services chairman Cecil Villard and chief administrative officer Roy Main.

“Mayor Lee is the elected representative of the City of Charlottetown, which is why it was appropriate for me to meet with him,’’ Fantino said in a letter emailed to The Guardian. “But, if other councillors don’t believe he is able to effectively represent the city, that is an issue for Charlottetown council to resolve.’’

    “Mayor Lee is the elected representative of the City of Charlottetown, which is why it was appropriate for me to meet with him. But, if other councillors don’t believe he is able to effectively represent the city, that is an issue for Charlottetown council to resolve.’’ Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino, in an email to The Guardian

Tweel wasn’t happy at all.

“I have to question the federal minister . . . maybe he doesn’t know how local government functions,’’ Tweel said, clearly upset. “We have 10 equal councillors for the 35,000 citizens who live, work and pay taxes in this city since 1855.’’

Tweel also questions whether Fantino truly understands the impact of the job cuts and decision to close the district office.

“We are elected (politicians), just like he is. That is why we want to sit down and discuss the issue.’’

Coun. Danny Redmond, who asked to comment on this story, said he doesn’t appreciate Lee and Villard meeting with the minister behind council’s back.

“There is no documentation (from that meeting),’’ Redmond said. “We have no idea what they talked about. You would think there would be a paper trail back to council.’’

Fantino reiterated his original point, saying the City of Charlottetown needs to decide who speaks for council.

“While Charlottetown council and Mayor Lee can publicly squabble about who truly represents the city, I will continue my work to ensure that veterans get the services and support they need,’’ Fantino said.


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Updated Windsor veteran takes on role of Veterans Affairs
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2014, 01:01:37 PM »
Updated Windsor veteran takes on role of Veterans Affairs

Afghanistan veteran Bruce Moncur forms Veterans Association of Canada after VAC offices close

CBC News Posted: Mar 19, 2014 8:38 AM ET Last Updated: Mar 19, 2014 1:31 PM ET

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/windsor-veteran-takes-on-role-of-veterans-affairs-1.2578283



Afghanistan veteran Bruce Moncur is taking on new role to help those who have returned from combat.

He's one of the founding members of the Afghanistan Veterans Association of Canada.

It's designed as a replacement for Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) after it pulled out of eight cities across the country.

Moncur said his own experiences give him the expertise to help others in similar situations.

"This association is going to be a way for veterans to get the services they need," he said. "My own pension struggles have been going on for a decade. Someone who is lost or hopeless or doesn't know what to do can come to me and I can lead them in the right direction."

The idea for the association stemmed from several meetings with Windsor-Tecumseh NDP MP Joe Comartin.

"Mr. Comartin ... was helping me on my personal case and we started talking about the closure of the office, how swamped the legion is," Moncur told CBC Windsor Morning host Tony Doucette. "Some of the people are going to start coming to him now that the VAC office is closed."

Comartin suggested Moncur should get on board as a staffer and start the association.

"Essentially, I'm going to be taking on the role of Veterans Affairs," said Moncur, who will be working part time out of an office supplied by UNIFOR at one of the branches.

    'This association is going to be a way for veterans to get the services they need.'- Bruce Moncur, Afghanistan veteran

When asked about the political ties, Moncur said, "I'll let the knights, rooks and the king move me around any way they want as long as the help gets where it's needed most. That's the big issue here."

Conservative Essex MP Jeff Watson is critical.

"I'm not sure whether he's being hired as a staffer, which is entirely legitimate on behalf of veterans," he said. "If we're talking about setting up an organization in an MP's office that may be a different question. Obviously, we want to do the most we can to serve veterans."

Moncur referred to recent soldier suicides as an "epidemic" and said he knew many soldiers personally who have returned from combat and need the help.

Watson said he has completed an eight-month study of the role of Veterans Affairs in Windsor.

"I'm convinced there are no service gaps created with the merger into the Service Canada network," he said. "I can say that definitively."
Meeting with Jeff Watson

Watson and Erin O'Toole, the Member of Parliament for Durham, have invited Canadian Armed Forces veterans to meet with them at the Legion Hall in Windsor Thursday morning.

"We hope they can hear a few of our concerns we've had since the closings and maybe opens up more communication between us and the government," said Moncur.
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N.S. premier still waiting for response on veteran’s advocate: official
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2014, 06:19:21 PM »
N.S. premier still waiting for response on veteran’s advocate: official

    Published on March 24, 2014

http://www.capebretonpost.com/News/Local/2014-03-24/article-3661600/N.S.-premier-still-waiting-for-response-on-veteran%26rsquo%3Bs-advocate%3A-official/1

HALIFAX (CP) — Nova Scotia’s deputy minister of intergovernmental affairs says Ottawa has not responded to the premier’s request to create a veteran’s advocate.

Catherine Blewett says Premier Stephen McNeil sent a letter to Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino on Feb. 25 asking him to establish the position following the closure of eight regional Veterans Affairs offices.

Blewett told the provincial legislature’s standing committee of veterans affairs today that while Nova Scotia will do what it can to help, the constitutional responsibility for veterans lies with the federal government.

She says her office has also requested information from the federal department on the potential effects the closure of the Sydney office will have on veterans and was told in a follow-up email that the request was in the system.

The former Sydney office dealt with some 4,200 client files, according to the union for Veterans Affairs workers.

In his letter to Fantino, McNeil says that creating a veteran’s advocate would by a positive step for Ottawa to take in light of the office closures.
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Budget supported veterans
« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2014, 07:11:30 PM »
Budget supported veterans

Ottawa Citizen March 29, 2014

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/life/Budget+supported+veterans/9676447/story.html

Re: 50 Commemorations being planned; Legion, defence critic concerned about shrinking budget for veterans' health, March 27.

It is with great disappointment that I read the headline in the edition of Thursday's Citizen which states that the budget for veterans' health is "shrinking." In fact, the opposite is true.

In 2012-13, for example, Veterans Affairs Canada spent more than 90 per cent of its budget - or approximately $3.1 billion - providing direct support to veterans and their families. This includes both immediate and lifetime financial support, as well as the full physical, psycho-social and vocational rehabilitation services that injured and ill veterans need. Since 2006, we have committed $4.7 billion in new funding for Veterans Affairs.

Veterans Affairs Canada remains firmly focused on providing veterans and their families with the benefits, programs and services they need - even as we also commemorate their service and sacrifice for Canada with new events and ceremonies.

This commitment to both care and commemoration is at the heart of our department's dual mandate, and it is reflected in our annual spending priorities.

However, veterans tell us that commemoration is also important to them. That is why 10 veterans were part of Canada's official delegation that marked the 50th anniversary of our peacekeeping mission in Cyprus earlier this month.

We will continue the important mission of serving Canada's men and women in uniform who so bravely served us.

Julian Fantino

Minister of Veterans Affairs
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