“This government has made enormous — billions of dollars — new investments in programs, particularly for the most needy veterans,” he said.
Yet the Conservative government, which has often boasted of its investments in the Canadian military, this week faced sharp criticism that it was stiffing Canada’s most vulnerable veterans — those who couldn’t pay their own funeral costs.
At the heart of the debate is the Last Post Fund, a non-profit organization that offers financial benefits for funeral expenses for eligible vets. However the funding has been capped at $3,600 since 2001, despite rising costs that have pushed typical funeral prices to more than twice that amount…”
“Obviously, those programs are under constant review and we will continue to assess their suitability going forward,” said Harper, who will mark Remembrance Day in Hong Kong on Sunday.
In French, he added that those reviews would deem whether the program is “appropriate for today’s needs.”
However, advocates say the needs are already well-known. They want the cap raised to $5,000 for each funeral, an increase that would cost an additional $5 million a year. The program now costs $10.2 million a year to administer.
The controversy comes as Ottawa is already under fire for its treatment of modern-day injured veterans. Despite an overhaul of the benefits package, the government has faced continuing criticism that ill and injured veterans are being shortchanged. Indeed, the government has been forced to make a series of successive patchwork fixes to correct shortfalls in the benefits program.
Still, the federal government is facing a class-action lawsuit from injured veterans, including those wounded in Afghanistan, charging that their benefits are inadequate.”
Harper is actually spending millions of taxpayer dollars dragging our veterans through court to get the justice we Canadians expect for them. He spends more on advertising than he would need to treat the veterans he is creating with the dignity Canada expects to be afforded to those who make such a sacrifice. Today, the CBC reported that the Minister of Veterans Affairs was defending his decision to cancel the investigation by the Veterans Ombudsman into the breach of privacy of an outspoken Gulf War Vet.
Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney is defending his decision to halt an investigation by Canada’s veterans ombudsman into a controversial breach of privacy, saying that the Office of the Privacy Commissioner was best suited to handle the matter.
Blaney asked Guy Parent, the federal veterans ombudsman, in July 2011 to discontinue a probe his predecessor had ordered seven months earlier, according to documents obtained by The Canadian Press.
In an interview with CBC Radio’s The House, Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, told host Evan Solomon “any privacy breach of a veterans’ file is totally unacceptable.”
Blaney said as soon as he was informed there could be a potential breach of privacy, he asked federal Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart to investigate and instructed officials in the Department of Veterans Affairs to “fully cooperate.”
But in January 2011, Blaney’s predecessor, former Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn, felt it necessary to order the veterans ombudsman to investigate the matter even though he knew the privacy commissioner was already looking into what had happened separately.
The focus of Stoddart’s audit was different from that of the veterans ombudsman.
Blackburn ordered the probe after hundreds of senior bureaucrats accessed the confidential medical information of Gulf War veteran Sean Bruyea in an alleged smear campaign. The federal government later settled a lawsuit with Bruyea out of court, but other veterans have since made similar complaints.”
While the Minister was at a photo op unveiling a memorial paid for by donations from Canadians…
Blaney was in Trenton on Saturday to attend the unveiling of a new Afghanistan Repatriation Memorial. He spent the better part of Veterans’ Week defending the federal government’s record and treatment of veterans — including news that soldiers’ families are raising serious concerns over the care their loved ones are receiving at the largest veterans care facility in the country.
Retired sergeant Tom Hoppe, one of Canada’s most decorated veterans of the Bosnia war, announced this week he will not be wearing his medals on Remembrance Day Sunday in protest of the federal government’s treatment of vets and in support of a group of Afghanistan war veterans that have filed a class-action lawsuit, saying the disability payment regime under the New Veterans Charter violates their human rights.
In an interview that aired Friday on CBC News Network’s Power & Politics, Hoppe said it was a “difficult” decision but a necessary one because the new charter — which he supported when it was first introduced — was suppose to address the very concerns vets are now going to court over.
“It’s an outrage that this has happened, and on top of that, people’s privacy was breached,” Hoppe told guest-host Hannah Thibedeau.
“We have tried to work within the system and we have tried to get mediation with the minister and nothing has happened, what’s left to do? The public has to know what is going on,” said Hoppe.
Hoppe has said that his personal privacy was also violated when federal officials snooped in his records in 2006.”
I will spend my time in private tomorrow, reflecting on those whose service to Canada has ended so badly. I will reflect on the shame of how this Government disregards that service in such a callow manner.
Lastly, go read Boris, at the Galloping Beaver…