November 18th, 2022
NDP: Invest in Veterans and Veterans Affairs workers, halt multi-million-dollar contracts to rich corporations
OTTAWA – On Friday, NDP House Leader Peter Julian and National President of the Union of Veterans Affairs Employees Virginia Vaillancourt called on the Liberal Minister of Veterans Affairs to halt his multi-million dollar outsourcing contract to a private for-profit company owned by Loblaws. Instead, funding should be invested in workers at Veterans Affairs Canada to better serve Veterans and their families.
“The Liberals are only days away from outsourcing rehabilitation services for Canadian Veterans to a company owned by no other than Loblaws. What’s worse, workers have not even been trained on the new system and the union says this contract will cost 25 percent more than it would to hire more workers to support Veterans and their families,” said Julian in Question Period on Friday. “Earlier this week, the Auditor General confirmed that this Minister isn’t doing enough to create a permanent stable workforce. Why is the Minister putting Loblaws’ profits ahead of Veterans and their families?”
For many Veterans, rehabilitation services are critical their mental and physical health but staffing shortages and backlogs have meant Veterans have had to wait months, even years, for this help. Meanwhile, VAC has suspended service delivery while transitioning to the new system, meaning Veterans are currently unable to access mental and psycho-social supports. And at the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs yesterday it was admitted that the training is not done, the system is not ready and they’re having to delay.
“The Liberal Minister must call for a total halt on this contract. Instead of spending $100 million a year to a for-profit company, he should invest it in workers at VAC to better serve Veterans and their families, but he wont even meet with the union that represents the workers,” added Julian. “The Liberals have a responsibility to protect and fight for those who have served our country. But after seven years of not fixing these problems and outsourcing rehab services to companies that only care about making money – it’s clear that the Liberals don’t want to step up to help Veterans or support workers. New Democrats will keep fighting for workers and to deliver good quality rehabilitation services for Veterans.”
The people who have proudly served this country need to be properly supported, and a successful transition from military to civilian life is critical. The first step is listening to veterans and investing in good quality, accessible rehabilitation services that prioritize people, not profits. NDP Veterans Affairs Critic Rachel Blaney fought for a committee investigation into the outsourcing and new rehab contract to ensure outsourcing won’t worsen an already struggling program.