In Debate: Apologize to Veterans and Fund Their Pensions Properly

Mr. Gord Johns (Courtenay—Alberni, NDP):  

    Madam Speaker, I just acknowledged that the government had made some steps, but it is far short of its promise. The Liberals promised to reinstate lifelong pensions. The pensions they announced in December will not even be implemented until April 2019, almost four years after they were elected, and falling short of what they promised. Veterans and their families will get less than they did in 2006.

    Also, the government promised it would have a sacred obligation to our veterans. The Liberals did not do that. They voted against that last night. They promised not to fight veterans in court, but they are doing that right now. They are fighting the people who have put their lives on the line for our country. Twenty-nine thousand veterans are waiting for disability benefits, a 50% increase over the last eight months.

     The Liberals can announce as much as they want, but when veterans cannot get services and those services are less than they were promised, then it is not enough.


Ms. Rachel Blaney (North Island—Powell River, NDP):    Madam Speaker, I am going to say their names again, Max, William, and Don.

    Whenever a decision is made, we have to remember these are the people that put their lives on the line every single day, that made a sacred oath to Canada that they would stand up, and do whatever they were asked to do. That is not coming back to them.

    Yesterday, there was a CBC article stating that there had been 14 different studies over the last few years and over 190 recommendations. We have studied this to death. We need to see action now. Our veterans deserve nothing less.

Ms. Irene Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe, NDP):  

    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, who is now the critic for a very important issue.

    Those veterans outside are not gathered there because they are happy. They are not gathered there because they are being treated fairly. They are gathered there, because the government has failed. The government says, “Let us not make it partisan.” It seems to me that a promise was made during an election to increase the amount that veterans were to receive, and to restore those pensions. It seems to me that was pretty partisan.

    The Liberals try to baffle us here with numbers. They do not tell us people are receiving less and less. When are the Liberals going to live up to their promises, and look after our veterans?


Ms. Rachel Blaney:  

    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the passion of the member, and many veterans across Canada are asking the same question. When will we see action, when will we be part of that solution? I hope it is very soon, and I will continue to fight for that.




Ms. Irene Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe, NDP):  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the former minister for his clarity in regard to the truth about what is being spent.

    Perhaps the member could comment on the fact that the Prime Minister went to a constituency and told veterans that there just was not enough money available for them. However, there is lots of money for a skating rink which cost $7 million. There is lots of money for tax havens so that the wealthy do not have to pay their fair share. CEO stock options still are costing this country millions of dollars in revenue. However, there is no money for veterans.

    Can the hon. member square that circle for me?


Hon. Erin O'Toole:  

    Mr. Speaker, I know that the member for London—Fanshawe knows the file well. The historic Royal Canadian Regiment and its museum are in London, and I hear from my friends that she has a lot of interactions with veterans.

    The member is absolutely right. This is about leadership or the absence thereof. The Prime Minister of Canada and his cabinet make choices. It was a choice in the first 100 days of his government to spend billions of dollars on a variety of programs, much of them outside our country. It was his choice to settle with Omar Khadr for $10 billion. It is his choice what goes into the budget and what does not. It was his choice not to keep his promise to veterans.

    The question I asked in a funny little debate we had a few weeks ago was whether the Prime Minister knew the cost of a return to the pension. The vast majority of the injured who leave the Canadian Armed Forces have sustained low injuries to their knees and backs. Combat arms NCMs or officers leave injured, beaten up, but not all of them will need transitional help. To return to the pension, with people living to 100, and the $30 billion was for low injuries generally, its lump sum top-up was bad policy, because the Liberals spent over $1 billion for people suffering from hearing loss who might be lawyers on Bay Street. The smarter thing is for the retirement income security benefit to go to the people who need it, the moderate to severely injured.

     With respect to the enhancements to the permanent impairment allowance, I wanted to see the family caregiver benefit go to all PIA recipients. Those are the people that Talbot Papineau alluded to. They should not want if their future has been harmed serving our count