It’s shocking, not only how brazenly the Conservatives are breaking our country’s solemn vow to care for the men and women who served in the Canadian Forces, but how disrespectfully they treat them.
The Conservatives are making it harder for veterans to access the support services they were promised by the government. Almost a quarter of the employees at Veterans' Affairs are being eliminated, and nine Veterans' Affairs Canada Centres have been closed. Veterans are being forced to travel further for less service.
Some, including seniors, will have to drive hours outside their communities to receive face-to-face help. The Tories claim nearby Service Canada Centres will do the same job, yet their teams – who deal mostly with everyday government services – cannot help because they are not trained to deal with complex veterans’ cases.
Furthermore, the Conservative government is failing to support those with debilitating mental health problems like post-traumatic stress disorder because of a staff shortage. To fix it, the Conservatives announced they would hire up to 54 more mental health professionals 18 months ago.
Then they made the same announcement again last month. Nothing has happened for almost two years, because of the government’s own imposed employment freeze.
When veterans tried to meet with Conservative Veterans' Affairs Minister Julian Fantino to discuss problems like these, he stood them up. Then, as they were about to speak with reporters, he finally came by and insulted them, telling them they don’t know what they are talking about.
Later, he even called these veterans “dupes.” It was appalling.
His disgraceful attitude was typical for the Conservatives, who say they care, while their actions clearly say differently.
We can do better. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has vowed to reopen the closed Veterans' Affairs Canada Centres. He will restore a culture of respect for our troops and veterans and strive to provide accessible care to meet their needs. It is high time we honour our promise to those who have put their lives on the line for our country.
MP Jim Karygiannis
Liberal Party of Canada
Veterans Affairs Critic