It’s Veterans’ Week, and Conservative ministers have been talking up how much their government supports veterans as the country prepares to mark Remembrance Day.
Here's a comparison of what they say, and what they do:
What they say: "Our Veterans show us every day the meaning of patriotism. We remember and honour their sacrifice & service in." @MinPeterMacKay
What they do: The Conservative government is appealing a court ruling related to veterans of Canada’s war in Afghanistan. The veterans say the federal government’s new system of disability compensation for former soldiers violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The payments don’t even measure up to worker’s compensation claims or civil settlements in personal injury claims.
What they say: "Our govt has worked to help returning #veterans re-establish themselves to civilian life." @JulianFantino
What they do: Canada’s Veterans Ombudsman reported recently that the government’s much-touted New Veterans Charter is riddled with problems, including woefully inadequate funding to help soldiers transition to civilian jobs. Former soldiers have also weighed in: they’ve complained about the poorly-executed “Helmets to Hardhats” program, denouncing it as "condescending" and "an insult to the skill set of veterans."
What they say: "Our govt has reduced red tape so #veterans can access the benefits they need #cdnpoli." @JulianFantino
What they do: Announced plans to close nine Veterans Affairs offices in rural areas across Canada. That means many veterans, including those with disabilities, will have to travel long distances to access their needed benefits. And despite so-called “back office” cuts at the Department of Veterans Affairs, front lines services for veterans are affected.
What they say: "Our govt has invested almost five billion additional dollars in benefits and programs for #veterans #sft2013." @JulianFantino
What they do: Discharged over 200 injured military personnel before they reached 10 years of service, the benchmark to qualify for a pension. The trend line for the last decade suggest a pattern. In 2001, 10% of soldiers were discharged prematurely. By 2011, this number had grown to 16%. The recent report from Canada’s Veterans Ombudsman also revealed that 400 veterans live in poverty in their retirement years because of inadequate pensions.
What they say: "Our Government will always keep faith with those who have defended Canada with pride #veterans #cdnpoli." @JulianFantino
What they do: Spent over $245,000 to remove the maple leaf rank designation on the uniforms of Canada’s highest-ranking officers. David Zimmerman, a military historian at the University of Victoria, summed up the move to abandon maple leaf badges for British stars and crowns: "just beyond belief" and "bizarre."
Photo: grovestock (sxc).