National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada - Letter to the Editor

OTTAWA, Nov. 7, 2011 /CNW/ - The National Council of Veteran Associations (representing 58 member-organizations) has recently written to the Prime Minister to express its serious concerns as to the declared intention of the Government that many Federal Budgets are to be potentially reduced and that substantial financial cuts will have to be exercised by individual Departments, including Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC).

Our letter indicated that it would be highly unacceptable to NCVA that the Government's Deficit Reduction Plan would conceivably include cuts to veterans' benefits or administrative components of VAC programs.

We also trust that any cuts will not be made on the backs of the Canadian veterans' community, particularly given the fact that a number of Allied countries, in attempting to cope with current economic deficits, have exempted veterans' benefits and services from their proposed austerity programs. 

NCVA has consistently pointed out in this regard that, although Canada's Traditional Veterans are aging, VAC continues to have significant responsibility to the more than 150,000 veterans who served Canada during the Second World War and Korea. Many of these veterans are presently suffering from their service-related disabilities together with other medical concerns brought on by the ravages of age.

It is also quite self-evident that extensive financial and human resources are required of the Department due to the influx of disabled veterans returning from Afghanistan and earlier Canadian military missions.  Given the physical, mental and psychological concerns confronting these returning veterans, the job of VAC will become more essential and intensive in order to address these multifaceted problems.

It remains our view that VAC has an important and complex mandate and, indeed, is entering a significant phase.  VAC currently administers two major pieces of legislation - the original Pension Act for the Traditional Veteran and the New Veterans Charter for the Modern Day Veteran.  At the same time, health care benefits, Veterans Independence programs and all of the related policies are administered by the Department for all Veterans and their families.

It is also a stark reality that should VAC's budgetary capacity be impacted, the Department will be unable to fund crucial legislative improvements in order to fulfil its ongoing commitments to the overall veterans' community.

With reference to Traditional Veterans, there remain serious outstanding concerns as to the significant gaps in the VAC Long Term Care Program, inequities in the Last Post Fund/Veterans Burial Regulations and anomalies in the VIP programs for widows.

In relation to Modern Day Veterans, the New Veterans Charter, considered a "living document" by veterans' organizations, is currently an unfinished work in progress.

Given these significant concerns, this is clearly no time to be suggesting any diminishment in the budget or the resources of the Department.  In our judgement, the financial responsibility and debt of gratitude that all Canadians owe to Traditional and Modern Day Veterans should remain a paramount consideration in any evaluation of a Federal Deficit Reduction Plan.

With reference to a specific examination of the VAC budget, NCVA has for many years argued that administrative efficiencies can be established within the Department through the removal of bureaucratic red tape and procedural obstacles which unduly generate financial costs to VAC.

Sincerely,

(signed)

Brian N. Forbes
Secretary General
National Council of Veteran Associations


SOURCE National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada

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