Zimmer: MPs take on services for Canada’s veterans
To the editor:
Setting the record straight on Veterans Affairs.
The issue of Veterans Affairs Canada service locations is once again grabbing headlines, and it is doing so because of the amount of misinformation out there about the changes being made by our government.
The fact is that Canada’s veterans will be better served now that employees at any one of 600 Service Canada locations across the country will be trained and equipped to provide those services in smaller communities. A veteran living in Dawson Creek or Mackenzie will be able to access service locally, instead of traveling to Prince George or Edmonton to visit a VAC office. Veterans who did receive service from the now-closed VAC offices will not have to look for their new service point, as all of those cities have Service Canada locations in the same building or across the street. Veterans will receive face-to-face service from a real person at any Service Canada office, or go online if they wish to do so. Also, local constituency offices are more than willing and able to provide help to veterans in need of assistance.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada, or PSAC, is spearheading the campaign against Veterans Affairs Canada. When the union launched their campaign in July 2013, they failed to note that the Veterans Affairs office in Prince George had been closed for six months. They simply lump our community in with eight other offices that closed on Jan. 31, 2014.
The union also does a grave disservice to their own members. They imply that Service Canada employees, who are also represented by PSAC, are incapable of putting the training they have received from Veterans Affairs Canada to good use.
Since 2006, our government has invested nearly $4.7 billion in new funding to enhance veterans benefits, programs and services. Close to 90 per cent of the department’s budget goes toward direct service and support for veterans services. In order to support Canadian veterans, Veterans Affairs Canada delivers a number of personalized benefits such as home visits by a registered nurse or case-manager, in addition to grass cutting, snow clearing and home cleaning services. We have also made improvements, increasing the number of case workers in the regions where veterans need them most, and opening and maintaining 17 Operational Stress Injury Clinics and 24 Integrated Personnel Support Centres near Canadian Forces Bases and in major city centres right across the country.
I have family who are veterans. I truly care about them and the quality of service they, and all veterans, receive. Our government has been extremely supportive of our veterans through several initiatives such as the Helmets to Hardhats program as well as doubling government contribution rates to the Burial Services Fund.
Our government is working hard to serve our veterans as well as they have served Canada. The campaign by PSAC only serves to disrespect their own members working at Service Canada, and keeps veterans in the dark about the services available to them.
MP, Prince George-Peace River