Opinion

Cannan: Helping vets with stress disorder

Julian Fantino, the federal minister of veterans affairs, announced on May 27 a plan to support a pilot project to assess the benefits and risks of using psychiatric service dogs to assist in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

This will come as good news to those constituents who wrote to me last year urging the government to do so.

The two-and-a-half-year pilot project has a goal of having up to 50 veterans participate in the project. VAC will provide up to $500,000 to cover expenses and new research for the pilot project.

As Louise Bradley, president and CEO of the  Mental Health Commission of Canada, noted: “The use of psychiatric service dogs to assist veterans with PTSD is an innovative, emerging recovery-oriented practice. We look forward to hearing more about the pilot project and the ensuing research.”

Likewise, as Captain (retired) Medric Cousineau, founder of Paws Fur Thought, said: “This pilot project is a concrete and positive step forward. As someone who has gained tremendously from my service dog, I’m proud to be involved in this effort to help veterans with PTSD.”

VAC has a well-established national network of more than 4,800 mental health professionals, including psychologists, social workers and mental health nurses, who deliver mental health services to veterans with PTSD and other operational stress injuries.

In addition, VAC and the Department of National Defence have a joint network of 17 operational stress injury clinics, including 10 specialized clinics established by VAC.

Finding innovative ways to support our Veterans who face the challenges of PTSD is a priority for our government.

For more information see www.veterans.gc.ca .

•••

On May 27, the Parliamentary Budget Officer released a report that examined tax regime changes between 2005 and 2013 for two of the three largest components of federal tax revenue—personal income taxes and the GST/HST (Revenue and Distribution Analysis of Federal Tax Changes: 2005-2013).

The PBO report says Canadians are paying Ottawa about $30 billion less this year: personal income taxes have been cut by about $17.1 billion through a variety of changes introduced since 2005; and the two-percentage point cut in the GST has resulted in a $13.3 billion in savings this year.

The PBO says the lion’s share of the tax savings have gone to low middle income earners.

Under our Conservative government, the average family of four will save nearly $3,400 in taxes this year; the net worth of families is up over 44 per cent. Even the New York Times says we have the most affluent middle class in the world.

The PBO report can be found at www.pbo-dpb.gc.ca.

•••

To protect consumers and save Canadians money, Finance Minister Joe Oliver has announced that voluntary commitments have been secured from Canada’s eight largest banks to enhance low-cost bank accounts and offer no-cost accounts with the same features as low-cost accounts to a wider range of eligible consumers.

No-cost accounts will be available to youth, students, seniors qualifying for the Guaranteed Income Supplement, and Registered Disability Savings Plan beneficiaries.

Banks have committed to bringing the voluntary guidelines into force by Jan. 15, 2015.

This action fulfils a 2013 Throne Speech  commitment to expand no-cost basic banking services and to end pay-to-pay policies, as well as an Economic Action Plan 2014 commitment to enhance access to basic banking services.

“Canadians work hard for their money. Our government believes Canadians deserve to keep more of their hard-earned money,” said Oliver.

“That is why we are taking action to improve low-cost accounts and expand access to no-cost banking services for more than seven million people—to protect consumers and save even more money for Canadians.

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