Canada: Minister responds to criticism from Veterans Groups

Julian Fatino - Minister of Veterans AffairsJulian Fatino - Minister of Veterans Affairs

Julian Fatino - Minister of Veterans Affairs

Julian Fatino – Minister of Veterans Affairs

The New Veterans Charter has been under fire from Canada’s opposition parties and veterans advocate groups. Most recently veterans groups called for the resignation of Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fatino. This was prompted by remarks made by the Minister during an interview on the Bill Good show on CKNW Radio earlier this month. The minister is now fighting back with his response, which is reproduced in its entirety below:

There exists a tangle of misinformation regarding how Canada treats its men and women who have served in uniform – as well as regarding the legislation known as the New Veterans Charter. Improvements made by our government, and validated by the latest Veterans Ombudsman report, indicate that while important gaps do need to be filled, a majority of Canada’s veterans receive the support and care that they need.

Almost eight years ago, a unanimous Parliament endorsed wholesale change to veterans’ support and services. Since implementing the New Veterans Charter in 2006, our government has invested almost $4.7-billion in new funding to enhance veterans benefits, programs and services. Today, seriously injured veterans receive significant financial support up front, and each month, in addition to having access to world-class treatment from some of the most experienced medical professionals in Canada.

As the Ombudsman notes in his recently released actuarial analysis, “the Enhanced [New Veterans] Charter is focused on wellness and rehabilitation, while the Pension Act focuses on compensation.” Our approach is not to simply throw money at a problem or a person. We are focused on providing the best support and care for veterans and their families.

Canadians can and should be proud of the commitment they have shown through their parliamentarians to support Canadian veterans who are injured in the line of duty. According to the Veterans Ombudsman’s report, the modern framework now in place to assist our former men and women in uniform “in lieu of a monthly pension cheque, [provides] a suite of benefits and services that encourages wellness and rehabilitation and is consistent with the principles of modern disability management.”

The Ombudsman is also prudent enough to provide a caveat: “Frequently, comparisons are made only between the Pensions Act monthly disability pension and the New Veterans Charter lump sum disability award without taking into context the overall suite of monetary and non-monetary benefits provided under the New Veterans Charter. Such ‘cherry picking’ does not provide an objective view of how all the benefits come together to provide a particular effect.”

Our government also introduced significant legislative improvements to the New Veterans Charter in 2011 that were praised in the Ombudsman’s report as having “had a positive effect.” We incorporated over 160 recommendations that were determined after wide consultation. In particular, we implemented enhancements to the New Veterans Charter that make it easier to qualify for the Permanent Impairment Allowance (PIA) and the Exceptional Incapacity Allowance, along with a series of other changes that boost the transition of a veteran to civilian life.

Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, the changes made by our government allow for a veteran to have increased choice. They can either receive a one-time lump-sum payment; an annual installment over the number of years of a veteran’s choosing; or a combination of these two payment options.

Our government continues to take positive action on behalf of veterans. Last week, I announced that the government of Canada will support a comprehensive review of the New Veterans Charter, including all enhancements, with a special focus placed on the most seriously injured, support for families and the delivery of programs by Veterans Affairs Canada. I call on parliamentarians to focus on how we can better assist veterans. This parliamentary review, guided by representatives elected by the people of Canada, will provide an appropriate forum where all voices can be heard, including and especially those of veterans, their family members, other interested individuals and subject-matter experts. That is where we can work together to enact appropriate change for veterans and their families.
In truth, the very reason for the Ombudsman’s work is to support just such a review, and not supersede it as a few critics have falsely claimed.

Our government is committed to the veteran who has sacrificed so much for their country. We will continue to work through Veterans Affairs Canada, with relevant stakeholders, community and families to ensure that we ably meet needs while also being mindful of our responsibility to the Canadian taxpayer.

Our veterans, and Canadians, deserve no less.

Sincerely / Cordialement,

Julian Fantino PC, MP / CP, député
Minister of Veterans Affairs / Ministre des Anciens Combattants

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Karl Gotthardt - Politisite Managing Editor Maj. Gotthardt is a Retired Military Officer with 35 years service in the Canadian Armed Forces. He spent most of his time in the Military in Infantry Battalions. Karl took part in training for Afghanistan as an Operator Analyst with the Canadian Maneouvre Training Centre. Karl is a qualified military parachutist and military free fall parachutist. He earned his U.S. Master Jump Wings in Fort Benning, Georgia. Karl enjoys working with horses for the last 24 year. He owns six. He has experience in breeding, training and of course riding.Karl was born in Germany and is fluent in both English and German and he speaks enough French to "get in trouble". Karl has written or writes at NowPublic, All Voices, Tek Journalism and many others.

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