OTTAWA, Oct. 6, 2016 /CNW/ - The Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, today issued the following statement:
"Over the past two days, I, along with Parliamentary Secretary McCrimmon, and senior departmental officials, have had the invaluable opportunity to meet with Veterans, Veterans' organizations, Advisory Group members and other stakeholder groups to talk about important and pressing issues for Veterans and their families. These Stakeholder Summits are a part of the Department's commitment to Veterans' organizations and to stakeholders to be more open and transparent, and they provide opportunities for us to hear what stakeholders have to say about current and future initiatives.
"This Summit included presentations from the co-chairs of the six ministerial advisory groups on their work to date. This led to constructive dialogue and recommendations for moving forward in the areas of policy, service excellence, mental health, families, care and support, and commemoration.
"We also heard the feedback submitted to the Department through its Have Your Say online engagement tool, as well as a series of stakeholder roundtable discussions that took place in July and August. We introduced direct poll voting technology for the first time to provide the Summit participants with instant feedback on what they saw as priority issues for Veterans and their families.
"What I heard, is that despite adding billions of dollars to the program to put more money into the pockets of Veterans, outdated legislation, gaps in the funding model and policy conflicts keep creating barriers to prevent some of that money from getting where it needs to go. Thousands have benefited, but we have to ensure that every effort is made to help those who have fallen between the cracks created by our patchwork of programs.
"I am committed to changing the current system, creating an easy to access, simple to navigate, Veteran-centric process. I admit—we are not where we need to be. But I believe we can get there.
"Initiatives like the Stakeholder Summit, roundtable discussions, the Have Your Say web page, and the work of the advisory groups are invaluable consultative tools that will help us address these issues and transform our programs to improve the lives of Canada's Veterans and their families.
"It is still early in our mandate and while some may disagree with the timing and process as we move to accomplish these necessary and transformative goals, I will always be ready to listen and ready to discuss. We are closer to accomplishing our objectives, but we recognize that there is still a lot of work to do. Only by engaging, consulting and listening to what Veterans, Stakeholders and Canadians have to say, will we get where we need to be."
SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada
For further information: Media Relations, Veterans Affairs Canada, 613-992-7468, [email protected]