May 15th, 2020
New Democrats call for fair benefits for veterans
CAMPBELL RIVER — NDP Critic for Veterans, Rachel Blaney, says Veterans Ombudsman Craig Dalton’s resignation earlier this week reflects the current and past government’s treatment of veterans.
Blaney is calling on the government to act on recommendations in Dalton’s final report which highlights how the government is failing the most seriously injured and ill veterans.
“The Veterans Ombudsman is responsible for making sure veterans and their families get the support, services, and benefits they need in a fair and timely way,” said Blaney. “Mr. Dalton has worked tirelessly to help our veterans and now he’s leaving his position after only 18 months of a 5 year appointment — it’s a huge loss.
In his report, Dalton reveals that veterans with similar issues get different levels of support. “Because there are three benefit regimes with different effective dates offering different suites of benefits, Veterans in similar circumstances are not treated equitably,” Dalton wrote.
“It’s beyond frustrating. The government has left veterans struggling with an unfair system that seems to randomly determine which benefits they get. And they don’t seem to feel much urgency to fix it,” said Blaney. “How can they defend this system?”
Instead of taking this report and the departure of the ombudsman seriously, yesterday, the government made another re-announcement. Blaney suggested that, given the issues revealed in the report, the Veterans Ombudsman should be reporting directly to Parliament instead of the Minister.
“Veterans don’t need recycled announcements they need a system that’s simple, clear, and fair,” said Blaney. “If veterans’ issues are going to be taken seriously, the Ombudsman should be fully independent and able to bring them straight to Parliament so all parties can discuss them openly.”