Veterans group expresses concerns on VAC Minister's update on hospital
transfer to Quebec

Ste. Anne's Veterans' Hospital, Saint-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC

OTTAWA, April 26 /CNW Telbec/ - The National Council of Veteran Associations (58 member organizations) continues to express concern following Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn's update today on the future of Ste-Anne's Hospital and its proposed transfer to the province of Quebec.

Veterans Affairs Canada announced last September that it had begun preliminary discussions with the Government of Quebec toward the hospital's potential transfer. The NCVA had noted in a news release at the time of last Fall's announcement that veterans have had a unique relationship with Veterans Affairs' longstanding administration of Ste. Anne's and are particularly apprehensive that this recognition would be lost if the hospital was transferred to the province.

NCVA Secretary General Brian Forbes pointed out that the timing of the transfer has caused serious concern and anxiety amongst veterans relevant to the priority access to beds that veterans currently enjoy at Ste. Anne's and the effect that a mix of veteran and non-veteran residents will have on their overall standard of care.

"In the event that the Government of Canada continues to pursue this transfer negotiation, it is the position of NCVA that, as a basic prerequisite an ironclad transfer agreement would be essential, with a strong, enforceable commitment as to the question of priority access to beds and the level of care," said Mr. Forbes. "A commitment to bilingual language services and continued communication with the veterans' community throughout the transfer process is also a high priority."

Mr. Forbes added that "the enforceability of the transfer agreement is of serious concern given our experience with other transferred veterans' facilities wherein individual Provinces contravened the provisions of the transfer agreement as to the level of care and the Federal Government failed to enforce the terms and the requirements of the agreement."

NCVA also indicated that Regular Force veterans currently rely on Ste. Anne's for its expertise in treating Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and psychiatric complications arising from service, and questioned whether the Government has factored in this growing need for institutional care as a consequence of the Afghanistan conflict and earlier Canadian military missions.

"We have expressed these significant concerns to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and to the Chief Negotiator appointed by the Department and will continue to hold discussions with the Minister's office to protect the interests of the veterans affected by this potential transfer," said Mr. Forbes.

The NCVA remains adamant that as a fundamental precondition to entering such a transfer agreement, all concerns be addressed throughout the negotiations and that mechanisms be established in the transfer arrangements to ensure that the agreement is legally and politically enforceable.

SOURCE National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada

For further information: For further information: Communications at 1-877-60MEDIA or e-mail communications@waramps.ca

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National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada

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