All posts tagged Laurie Hawn

Minister Fantino: Less Back Patting and More Action Please

Sean Bruyea

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

Parliament throws veterans under the bus, yet again

Veterans pictured last week protesting on Parliament Hill

Sean Bruyea

Veterans have every reason to be disillusioned with Ottawa once again. But this time, the disappointment could become the nail in Minister Julian Fantino’s Veterans Affairs coffin.

The House Veterans Affairs Committee released its much anticipated report reviewing the New Veterans Charter (NVC). The legislation required a “comprehensive review” to begin last November in spite of Minister Fantino’s claim that he called for the review to be comprehensive. The Minister did however call committee to focus on the “most seriously injured, support for families and delivery of program by Veterans Affairs Canada [VAC]”.

The report’s 14 limited recommendations received unanimous and glowing accolades from all parties.

Let’s dig a little deeper. The most positive recommendation proposed a detailed procedure for injured leaving the military, transferring to VAC and receiving care in their communities. Ensuring that veterans in isolated and rural areas receive adequate care, a longstanding problem, was not addressed.

Most of the remaining thirteen recommendations range from poorly defined to bizarre.

The NVC results in serious inequities, providing less to reserve force veterans than those in the regular military. The report recommended that reserve force veterans “be entitled to the same benefits” as regular force veterans.… Read the rest

Closing VAC Offices, Closing Hope for Veterans

Sean Bruyea

Military veteran Alfie Burt recently questioned Minister Julian Fantino’s insistence on closing nine Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) offices, “What the frig is wrong with that guy?”

To be fair, the same question can easily be asked of various Ministers and the most senior VAC bureaucrats over the past eight years. However, closure of VAC offices has become another incendiary device condescendingly tossed into the national outrage as to how Canada’s veterans are mistreated by government.

At issue is Ottawa’s effort to balance the books irrespective of veteran outcry. Problematically, Veterans Affairs, unlike most other federal departments did not have a significant hiring surge when the Conservatives took power in 2006. In fact, VAC has not only experienced one of the largest employment cuts of any department but the assault on its frontline employees began in 2011, a year before the government-wide downsizing.

At its peak in 2009, VAC was authorized a mere 7% increase in employees from 2006 levels. Since that time, employee positions have been consistently cut. Today, the department has almost 10% less positions (3,370) than when Mr. Harper became Prime Minister. When the axe stops swinging in 2016, VAC will have lost more than a quarter of its work force or 1000 positions since the Conservatives took power, not including 800 further positions to be lost when Ste.Read the rest