With the closure of eight Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) offices taking effect today, the Green Party of Canada is calling on the Harper Conservatives to reverse their irresponsible cuts to veterans’ services.
Bruce Hyer, the Green Party Deputy Leader and MP for Thunder Bay–Superior North, spoke at a “Memorial Service” held this morning at the Thunder Bay VAC Office to mark its closing. Hyer called the cuts to Veterans’ Affairs “shameful.”
“The Thunder Bay veterans office serves over two thousand veterans, who will now have to drive a full day to the nearest centre in North Bay or Winnipeg,” said Hyer. “The Conservative suggestion that veterans go to the local Service Canada office is unbelievable, particularly when they are making drastic cuts there too. It’s an outrage and it’s a slap in the face to our men and women who have put their lives on the line to serve our country.”
“Service Canada is gaining the files but is not gaining case workers, so in effect their caseloads have tripled,” said Green Party Veterans Affairs Critic John Percy. “There’s no question that this will adversely affect our veterans.”
“The fact that eight Canadian Forces members have taken their own lives over the past two months is a tragic reminder that current levels of service are failing our veterans,” said Green Leader Elizabeth May, MP for Saanich–Gulf Islands. “I am frankly appalled that this government would even consider making additional cuts.”
VAC Offices provide vital support to Canadian veterans of all ages and backgrounds, many of whom are living with serious mental and physical health issues, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. As of today, VAC offices in Corner Brook, Charlottetown, Sydney, Thunder Bay, Windsor, Brandon, Saskatoon and Kelowna will all be closing.
The Green Party of Canada supports ending the categorization of veterans according to areas of service, restoring lifetime pensions in lieu of lump-sum payments, and eliminating the Means Test and other restrictive criteria under which veterans are denied the services and benefits they deserve.