Question Period: Asking the Minister of Veterans Affairs to modernize Parkwood Veteran Hospital Mandate

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

Mr. Speaker, Parkwood Hospital in London, Ontario plans to close 72 veteran care beds. The problem is that veterans hospitals are only mandated to care for World War II and Korean war vets.

Does the Minister of Veterans Affairs have the wisdom to change the mandate for Parkwood and other veterans hospitals so that Canadian Forces personnel and RCMP who have served in peacekeeping missions and combat deployment since the Korean war would be eligible to access the same benefits and services offered to earlier generations?

Hon. Jean-Pierre Blackburn (Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture), CPC):

Mr. Speaker, I would like to clarify a few things. Of course our veterans are entitled to receive care in extended care beds. To that end, some hospitals reserve beds specifically for long-term care. However, since our veterans are dwindling in number because of their advanced age, some beds are no longer occupied. It is in these circumstances that we would talk to the hospital or organization about reducing the number of beds. Of course there is always room for our veterans, and other people can use the space when it is available.