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
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
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
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.
Brian N. Forbes
National Council of Veteran Associations
SOURCE National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada
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