Statement on Veterans Bed Closures at Parkwood Hospital

The bed closures announced at Parkwood yesterday is not a decision for which hospital administration should be blamed. There are fewer WWII and Korean War veterans still with us each day, so the demand for these beds has decreased. However, there in lays the problem, the mandate for these beds only provides access to Korean War or earlier veterans. The beds are not available to those who served as peacekeepers in Korea after the armistice, or to our peacekeepers who served in places like Cyprus, or the Golan Heights, or Somalia or the many other deploys in which Canadians participated in the 20th century.

The mandate needs to change so that all of Canada's veterans can access these long term care beds if they need to. The staff at Parkwood provide extraordinary care, and understand the special needs of our veterans. Private sector long term care beds cannot replace these beds. We already have a significant shortage of long term care beds in Ontario, the waiting list is long and the costs are prohibitive to many veterans and their families. If the Conservatives truly "support our troops", they would stop these bed closures and change the mandate of our veterans hospitals, as I have repeatedly called on them to do. A veteran is a veteran, but sadly the Harper Conservatives are abandoning our responsibilities as a nation to look after our post Korean War veterans.

Irene Mathyssen, MP