Minister touts progress but veterans less enthusiastic

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Minister touts progress but veterans less enthusiastic

Post by Trooper on Mon 02 Feb 2015, 20:48

Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O’Toole says the federal government has made progress in offering more help to former military personnel, but some veterans’ groups are slamming his update to the House of Commons as a failure to produce any real action.

O’Toole has responded to recommendations from the Commons Veterans Affairs committee report that was issued in June, noting that Canadian Forces members are not being released from the military until they are in stable medical condition. Veterans Affairs has also improved its counselling and support to medically released military personnel, he added.

The department is also making sure help is in place for veterans as they enter civilian life, he said. Veterans Affairs has also increased the number of psychological counselling sessions available to family members of veterans.

But some veterans say O’Toole’s response, sent to the committee Friday night, fails to touch on key areas they repeatedly highlighted: boosting the disability benefits for injured soldiers; bringing in changes to the controversial New Veterans Charter; and ensuring injured reservists are helped.

The Royal Canadian Legion said Monday it is frustrated with the lack of progress, adding that O’Toole’s response “does nothing substantial in addressing the recommendations and again pushes the timelines far to the right.”

Tom Eagles, the legion’s dominion president, said the issues are complex and require time, effort and money to fix. “It is the belief of the Legion that the government has had plenty of time to consider these issues but does not have the willingness to implement the significant changes necessary to look after our veterans,” said Eagles.

“It’s a snow job,” added Don Leonardo, founder of Veterans of Canada. “Nothing seems to have changed at all.

O’Toole has posted on his Facebook page a progress report on his efforts, saying he will produce a final report dealing with the committee’s recommendations in “spring 2015.” No specific date was provided.

Leonardo said he expects the Conservatives might be crafting their responses as part of an election platform, which would further delay action.

Sean Bruyea, an Ottawa-based veterans’ advocate, said O’Toole’s response skilfully avoided addressing most of the committee’s recommendations.

As an example, he noted that O’Toole is pointing out that spouses of veterans will have more access to psychological support. But, Bruyea said, the actual committee recommendation not only included spouses but the children and parents of veterans and it also recommended financial support be provided to family members of seriously disabled veterans acting as “primary caregivers.”

“What a laughably feeble and cowardly response on an issue which requires initiative and leadership,” Bruyea said. “It shows a remarkable disdain for ailing veterans and their families.”

O’Toole’s spokeswoman, Kayleigh Kanoza, said the government has moved swiftly to address many of the recommendations. It is also moving to digitize veterans’ medical records to speed up access to benefits; increase research in mental health and suicide prevention; simplify benefit payments; and develop a web-based training system for caregivers who deal with veterans with operational stress injuries.

“We will continue to work to address the recommendations and the Minister will update the committee on progress,” she said in an email.

Mike Blais of Canadian Veterans Advocacy also said O’Toole’s response falls significantly short. For example, O’Toole doesn’t address the issue of the government’s obligation to veterans, he said.

“I was hopeful that there would have been a commitment to resolve the central issues of discord, an effort to restore the sacred obligation,” Blais said. “That didn’t come.”

Government lawyers, fighting a lawsuit filed by disabled Afghan veterans, have argued Canada has no obligation to take care of its veterans. Last week, it was revealed the Conservative government spent almost $700,000 in legal bills fighting the injured soldiers in court.

The committee came up with 13 recommendations on how to make improvements to the veterans charter. Those ranged from increasing the disability award provided to veterans to improving how injured soldiers are handled by the bureaucracy. The 14th recommendation was to produce a response by Jan. 30, 2015 on the progress that had been made.

Liberal veterans affairs critic Frank Valeriote said O’Toole couldn’t even accomplish that. The response was sent to the committee at 6:40 p.m. on Friday, past the deadline, Valeriote said.

http://ottawacitizen.com/news/politics/minister-touts-progress-but-veterans-less-enthusiastic
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Trooper
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Re: Minister touts progress but veterans less enthusiastic

Post by Trooper on Mon 02 Feb 2015, 20:55

Erin O'Toole criticized for tweeting veterans benefits report details.

'Can you imagine if other ministers and departments tweeted government responses?' asks Liberal MP

The new veterans minister is under fire for posting some details of a highly anticipated progress report on improving the treatment of ex-soldiers on Twitter and Facebook even before MPs and the wider veterans community had a chance to see it.

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The update is seen as the first significant political test for Erin O'Toole, who replaced the embattled Julian Fantino last month, but the report did not arrive well after the close of business Friday night, missing a deadline imposed by a parliamentary committee.

The six-page letter was tabled Monday, but is in limbo because the Commons veterans affairs committee does not have a chairman to receive it.

O'Toole posted an info graphic on social media over the weekend, which apparently tracks the government's progress in implementing changes to legislation and benefits proposed by the veterans committee.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/erin-o-toole-criticized-for-tweeting-veterans-benefits-report-details-1.2940757
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Re: Minister touts progress but veterans less enthusiastic

Post by Guest on Mon 09 Feb 2015, 12:30

I have read the New MVA comments on CVA Facebook and at least this Minister actually uses social media and responds to us. I've never seen a Minister do that before. Maybe, just maybe we have a winner here. Teen , any chance of getting something from the Minister, a comment or something, on CSAT . He should know about us!

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Re: Minister touts progress but veterans less enthusiastic

Post by bigrex on Mon 09 Feb 2015, 12:47

I doubt we will see anything on here Nav. While it is good to see him of FB, he, his staff and the PMO, can still control the message. The same cannot be said about any other public forum, including CSAT, and I do not think that Harper will allow open communication where their message can be overshadowed by the truth.
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