An open letter to the new minister at Veterans Affairs

Five priority needs of that require positive and timely action

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an open letter to Erin O’Toole, newly appointed Minister of Veteran Affairs, from the president of the War Pensioners of Canada.

Dear Minister O’Toole:

First, congratulations on your new portfolio as the Minister of Veteran Affairs.

Sir, because you have served in the military, you will have an idea of the military culture and the obligation by Canada to look after the needs of our serving members and veterans, thus I sincerely hope that between Gen. (ret’d) Walt Natynczyk and yourself, that you are now able to bring some credibility back to the office of the Minister of Veteran Affairs.

For far too long there have been reviews, promises, then disappointments on the lack of action on the many areas that are lacking with New Veterans Charter. The Charter is a living document and since 2006, two different Veteran’s Ombudsmen have repeatedly pointed out the areas badly needing change, with hundreds of Charter deficiencies still pending positive action; this has placed the Harper government into shame and disrepute.

Having said the above, as a fellow veteran I would ask if you would please give priority action, before the October elections, to the following key areas:

  1. The need for Maximum Disability Awards and financial support for seriously injured veteran and their families must be significantly increased;
  2. Earnings Loss Benefits should be increased to 100 percent of salary, plus two ranks higher to cover loss of promotions;
  3. Permanent Impairment Allowance and Supplements should be a non-taxable allowance, in equality to the Pension Act, which is non-taxable;
  4. All the entitlements for injuries, treatment or other support benefits should be one and the same for Reserve Force and Regular Force members; and
  5. Much more emphasis must be placed on PTSD/OSI treatment counselling for veterans and their families at the earliest onset, not years after the onset.

Sir, if you could get some positive and timely action on the above five priority needs for veterans you will bring some credibility back for veterans to believe that the Harper government is willing to do what is right for veterans, over political bureaucracy and delay.

Yours sincerely,

Colin Pick, president/CEO

War Pensions of Canada