MP Donnelly calls for better veterans care

OTTAWA—Canada’s veterans shouldn’t have to fight the Conservative government in court to secure the pensions and long-term care they deserve, according to NDP MP Fin Donnelly in Question Period today.

“[The Minister] stands in this place and refuses to take responsibility… Does the government really want to force veterans like Daniel [Scott] through the courts just to get justice?” said Donnelly in a question to embattled Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino.

Donnelly raised the case of Daniel Scott, a disabled veteran from Surrey, who like many veterans is frustrated with the Conservative government for paying out a one-time lump sum amount instead of providing a lifetime disability pension. Scott is among six veterans who are fighting the Conservative government in court for access to the pensions they were promised.

The NDP has called on Minister Fantino to resign for failing to provide veterans with adequate mental health services, while at the same time failing to spend over $1 billion in allocated funding, cutting department staff by 25%, and doling out bonuses to senior officials for making these devastating cuts.

Unofficial transcript:

Mr. Fin Donnelly (New Westminster—Coquitlam, NDP):

The Minister has misled Canadians and closed regional offices. And the AG reported he’s failed veterans. Yet he stands in this place and refuses to take responsibility. So what about veterans like Daniel Scott from Surrey, for the loss of his spleen and health problems that will plague him for the rest of his life? The government gave Scott a one-time payment of just $41,000. Does the government really want to force veterans like Daniel through the courts just to get justice?

Mr. Parm Gill (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, a veteran who is injured and in rehabilitation, Mr. Speaker, receives a minimum of $3500 in financial benefits each month. Veterans who are most seriously injured, Mr. Speaker, can receive $8000 or more per month in financial benefits and from the Government of Canada and their military pension, Mr. Speaker. Our government has increased the two disability awards to a new combined total of half a million dollars tax-free, Mr. Speaker. Injured veterans now also have access to up to $75,800 toward university and college re-training.