Advocates say Ottawa, provinces not doing enough to help injured veterans

Veterans say access to help still lacking

HALIFAX — Veterans advocates in Nova Scotia are blasting the federal government for its inaction on a promise to re-introduce life-long pensions for those injured in uniform, and say the provinces aren’t doing enough to fight for needed health care resources.

During a news conference Friday at the provincial legislature, disabled veteran David MacLeod called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to keep a 2015 promise to restore life-long pensions that were replaced by a lump-sum payment.

“I’m going to start with a very radical statement that’s going to upset many Canadians,” said MacLeod, who served in Afghanistan.

“Don’t join the Canadian Armed Forces. If you get wounded or injured, Veterans Affairs Canada is unwilling or unable to help you.”

MacLeod said this week’s federal budget did not address systemic problems veterans face in dealing with Veterans Affairs, including a lack of access to benefits and services.

He said that has left veterans turning to the provinces to obtain what services they can, including health care.

MacLeod called on Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil to help with the fight by pushing harder with other provinces to get more help from Ottawa.

He was joined in the call by Kim Davis and Natasha Mohr, both wives of veterans, and another former serviceman, Medric Cousineau.

Davis, whose husband Blair has PTSD after serving in Bosnia, said many veterans are struggling to find help from the provincial health system for such things as basic care and mental health services.

“Our veterans are being released out into their communities without primary care physicians,” Davis said. “This is a huge strain on the health care system in this province (Nova Scotia) … and they are relying on walk-in clinics.”

She said local emergency departments are not ready to handle the complex problems faced by some veterans and many “walk out the door frustrated.”

Cousineau, who has PTSD and requires a service dog, said it doesn’t make sense that veterans often have to battle a bureaucratic maze to be told, no we can’t help you.

“We can bring thousands of refugees from foreign countries in a matter of weeks and we can’t figure out how to get a military veteran and his family back into the community that they wish to live with the appropriate health-care supports in place? I’m sorry folks, I’m not buying that.”

McNeil, who is also Nova Scotia’s minister responsible for military relations, said his government continues to lobby for more help.

“I was pleased to hear in the budget that the federal government is moving towards a centre of excellence around PTSD and I believe that centre of excellence should be here,” said McNeil, who pointed out that all three branches of the military operate in Nova Scotia.

But he also agreed with veterans that more needs to be done.

“We need to continue to push that message,” said McNeil. “We know there are more supports required and we will continue to work with the federal government and veterans organizations to make sure the services they want and need are there.”

Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s new fiscal plan did include new spending for veterans and their families, which would cost the government $624 million over five years if everyone who was eligible accessed the services right away.

While officials have said no decision has been made on the life-long pensions, it appears the lump-sum payment could simply end up spread out through monthly payments for life.

The maximum amount under the lump-sum payment is $360,000.

Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press

Canadian Press

Just Posted

(Dave Ogilvie photo)
One injured after being pinned by fallen forklift near Peachland

West Kelowna emergency crews responded to reports of a person stuck under a forklift

(Big White Ski Resort/Contributed)
Big White’s big clean-up: Large turnout for post-melt mountain tidy

More than 165 people showed up to help gather the litter left behind from the winter season

Mounties cover a burgundy truck with a tent at Buckerfields in West Kelowna on Monday, June 14. The RCMP is investigating after a woman’s body was found inside the truck. (Amandalina Letterio/Capital News)
West Kelowna RCMP investigating suspicious death after body found in truck

Police responded to a truck parked out front of a Main Street business where the body was found

(Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)
Delays expected on Lakeshore Road this week

Northbound traffic on Lakeshore between Richter and Barrera will be detoured for paving

David Larsen, left, and co-host Tony Peyton. (K96.3/Twitter)
Popular Kelowna radio host dies after battle with cancer

David Larsen was half of the longtime Kelowna morning-show duo David and Tony

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop live horse export

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Penticton Overdose Prevention Society co-founders Desiree Franz, Shane Surowski and Stephanie Lines have created the city’s first unsanctioned public overdose prevention site using an old wine-tour bus. The site began operations in June 2021. (Desiree Franz/Facebook)
Volunteers launch Penticton’s first public supervised injection site

2021 is on pace to be the deadliest year for overdoses in Penticton on record

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

Jane Linden
KCR: Volunteering keeps you active

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

This goose family went for a leisurely stroll down Vernon’s Main Street Saturday, April 25. (Dave Deshane photo)
Controversial Vernon goose cull won’t fly this year

Necessary permit procedures held up at a federal level

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Most Read