Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O’Toole (Hill Times photo)
In a bizarre and never-ending déjà vu, government is ramming through Parliament the fourth piece of veterans’ legislation in a decade. It is plainly bad legislation swallowed inside yet another budget omnibus bill.
The proposed veterans’ programs are joined by a torrent of feel-good political announcements. Does the hype match reality? Do the programs fill the identified gaps and address the evidence-based recommendations?
No and no. The proposed veterans’ legislation should be sent back to the kitchen until what was ordered by veterans is finally served after 10 years of painful hunger.
Retirement Income Security Benefit
A new Retirement Income Security Benefit claims it will top up to 70% of what the veteran received from government prior to age 65. However this is based upon the veteran’s income loss benefit which already reduces military salary to 75%. This income loss benefit is inadequately adjusted for inflation to a maximum of 2% since military release from 1953 onwards. In the past twenty years, inflation has been above 2% nine of those years. Seventeen of the previous 20 years were above 2%.
For example, veterans released in 1996 have had their earnings loss benefit increased by approximately 30% while military salaries have increased 80%.… Read the rest
Posted by Sean Bruyea on June 1, 2015
Minister Julian Fantino is the flypaper to which incompetent management and controversy persistently buzz around and stick. It is not clear why Harper keeps appointing this individual to various cabinet positions. What is abundantly clear: Julian Fantino is not capable of effectively managing the quagmire at Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC).
When he was appointed Minister, there were ambivalent reactions from the veterans’ community. Some mistakenly believed that an MP who wore a uniform in four different police departments would somehow understand living with lifelong injuries due to military service. Others knew of his career record in failing upwards. His tenure at VAC has highlighted a professional repertoire of disturbing tactics.
In 2004, media noted his “chilling legacy” as Toronto’s police chief during which “Julian Fantino’s arrogance and aggression unravelled [the] city’s social weave.” His “thin-skinned” and “vindictive” nature back then erupted ten years later to national attention. While cameras rolled, Fantino contemptuously brushed off frail, ageing and desperate veterans who waited almost two hours for the Minister on a cold January day. By means of an insincere apology, Fantino accused the veterans of being “union dupes.” Fleeing on camera from the wife of a disabled veteran four months later only confirmed his disdain for dialogue with those in need.… Read the rest
Posted by Sean Bruyea on February 2, 2015
When Canadian communities experience the tragedy of a multiple homicide, it would be unthinkable to ignore the victims or refuse to hunt for the murderer. Nor do we inundate the front page of newspapers with stories about how the remaining 35 million Canadians remain alive.
When Winnipeg or Calgary suffers destructive floods, we don’t hold celebrations in the rest of Canada for unaffected communities. As Canadians, we care what tragedy befalls fellow Canadians… unless you are the Minister or a senior bureaucrat at Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC).
With unprecedented suffering of our serving and retired military and their families regularly emerging over the past four years, Minister Fantino put his name to yet another newspaper letter monotonously claiming VAC is a finely tuned machine (Fantino: I want to improve veterans’ access to gainful employment once they leave Canadian Forces, The Hill Times, Sept. 8, p. 16).
What a surprise to learn that industrious, skilled, healthy and relatively young individuals (average age of releasing military: 40) are succeeding. Fantino then declares that he will put more effort into helping these veterans who least require help to get a job.
What Fantino has literally run away from over his painful tenure are those who most need our assistance: families of the disabled, frightened ageing veterans losing their trusted frontline VAC workers or disabled veterans wanting extensive improvements to some very broken or non-existent VAC programs.… Read the rest
Posted by Sean Bruyea on September 22, 2014