Questioning the Minister on Canadian Forces Mental Health Support

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

    Mr. Speaker, in the last 10 days, Canada has lost four soldiers to suicide. The reality is, soldiers worry that if they come forward with their mental health issues, it will end their careers.

    Because of universality of service, soldiers who admit to symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome could soon face a discharge. How can the government just tell soldiers to come forward when they might face losing their careers and pensions?

Hon. Rob Nicholson (Minister of National Defence, CPC):  

    Mr. Speaker, that is completely false and I would ask the hon. member not to alarm those individuals who are thinking of coming forward.

    The Chief of the Defence Staff said last night that many men and women in uniform had trouble coming forward when they needed help. That help is there. There has been an unprecedented commitment by this government to provide that help for them.

    All of us should get together and encourage those who have problems to come forward and get the help they need. They will get it from this government.

Mr. Sylvain Chicoine (Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, NDP):  

    Mr. Speaker, the current system works well for healthy people. It is not designed for those who need help. The minister encourages people to seek help, but that is precisely the problem. Encouragement is not enough.

    What we need is clinics and specialists in the detection of post-traumatic stress. What our veterans and military need is human resources and people who will be there to help them.

    Will the minister address this significant gap by investing in these resources?

 

Hon. Rob Nicholson (Minister of National Defence, CPC):  

    Mr. Speaker, I do not know how the member has completely missed what has taken place over the last couple of years, such as the inauguration of the joint personnel support unit to help men and women in the armed forces and those who are veterans and the unprecedented commitment to health care. We have the highest ratio of mental health experts to help the men and women in uniform than any of our NATO allies.That is the commitment of this government.