Should the Veterans Affairs Office in PG be Reopened?
Prince George, B.C. – Where do the candidates stand on veterans?
In part eight of our special election coverage we asked each candidate the following question: What services would you like to see offered (or improved) for veterans? (answers in alphabetical order).
Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies:
Elizabeth Biggar, The Green Party: I think it is horrible how the Harper government has taken away veterans pensions and now does a lump sum payment. It is shameful the amount we pay a soldier in a single payment for an injury. The maximum in Canada is $306,698.21 that could be payed for someone who has lost the function of their lower limbs and is confined to a wheel chair, where in Britain the maximum lump sum is $1,092,348.
I don’t think you can ever put a price on your body, but what we give our veterans is a disgrace. As Veterans ombudsman Pat Strogan put it, “Deputy ministers make more on average in one year than a person who loses two legs in Afghanistan can expect to be paid out for the rest of their life.”
Todd Keller, Libertarian Party: How about paying veterans to help other veterans…they know how to handle their own issues the best. I would find crate ways to fund veterans programs as much as possible however, I would move to bring the troops back home to defend Canada as an alternative to C-51. The Canadian Military knows what they are doing and how to stop terrorist attacks on Canada. Let’s stay out of other people’s conflicts that create these refugee crises.
Matt Shaw, Liberal Party: The Liberal Party and I are very clear on this. We want to see all nine regional Veterans Affairs offices in Canada reopened, and we want to ensure all veterans’ services restored, and in some cases augmented. The way our veterans have been treated by the Harper Government is outrageous. Canada has a sacred moral obligation to take care of its veterans, just as they have taken care of us. This is fundamental to our integrity as a country.
*Note Conservative incumbent Bob Zimmer and NDP challenger Kathi Dickie in the Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies riding declined the opportunity to respond.
Tracy Calogheros, Liberal Party: The reopening of the Veterans Services Offices is the first step of living up to our social contract with our veterans. They need to trust that when they put themselves in harm’s way to defend all of us, we will be here to defend them when they come home. Having personal relationships with expert staff who can help veterans to navigate the programs and services available to them is the first step to determining what they want from us. Choice is important. The choice between a pension or a lump-sum payment, the choice to attend post-secondary or trades training, the choice of how to manage their care and when to seek assistance. These men and women and their families have made sacrifices for all of us. We must offer them our gratitude and our support, and give them the opportunity to tell us what they need as they move back into civilian society.
Sheldon Clare, Independent: Veterans need support where they live. In the absence of reopening a Veteran’s Affairs office, at the very least there needs to be dedicated staff at the government service centers trained to support the needs of veterans. Veteran’s need to be treated with the respect and pensions needed to support and thank them for their service. It is absolutely outrageous that Veterans are told to simply go down to the Legion and seek help there. We need dedicated, specialized staff to provide support to our brave men and women.
Adam De Kroon, Christian Heritage Party: One service I would like to see offered for veterans is the reopening of a Veterans Affairs office in Prince George. As MP I would push for making this happen. Our veterans have given up a lot to serve this country and I think we need to be there for them. Cutting funds for veterans services should be a last resort. There are many places right now where money is being wasted and we can cut funds there instead. There is no need to cut services for our veterans who dedicated their lives to serve our nation.
Trent Derrick, NDP: Canada’s New Democrats have led the way on proposals to improve the programs and services available for veterans and their families. We have been clear about our priorities in the past and we want to see an end to service pension claw backs, reopen shuttered Veterans Affairs offices and widen access to quality home care, long-term care, and mental health care services. The NDP has repeatedly called for the government to repair our country’s relationship with our veterans to one that is based on respect, rather than neglect, by recognizing their sacred social covenant and taking immediate action to enshrine it.
*Further to Derrick’s answer, the NDP on Tuesday committed to re-opening the Veterans Affairs office in Prince George if they form government
Todd Doherty, Conservative Party: It is Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government that increased the amount spent supporting each Veteran by 35%. Meanwhile, let’s remember the Liberal’s record on supporting our troops – a Decade of Darkness.
A Conservative government will continue to make investments to improve frontline services for Canadian Military Veterans.
Richard Jacques, The Green Party: The reopening of all closed regional VA offices and the restaffing of same with health care professionals with an expertise in veteran affairs and services.
Tomorrow’s question: Most communities are facing an infrastructure deficit, how will you help communities in your riding deal with that issue?