Heartbreaking dispute between Canada’s veterans and government

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I find it heartbreaking to read about the fight between Canada’s veterans and the federal government following the closure of nine Veterans Affairs offices across Canada.

Hattie Dyck

It was especially disheartening when Justice Minister Julian Fantino’s comments caused an aged veteran to cry in public.

This man had travelled to Ottawa hoping to meet with Fantino and just maybe have that decision reversed. But, it was not to be. In my many years of watching the political scene across Canada, I have never seen such disrespect shown to a group of aged people as Fantino did to that senior veteran that day.

Fantino is an excellent example of a bully in high places. He’s a classic example of how we should not treat our fellow man, and how not to set an example for the youth of our nation. His apology too was an insult as he used cue cards when he made it. When I watched it I thought how shameful his whole character is to his fellow Canadians.

When the budget was released I hoped against hope that Finance Minister Jim Flaherty would find the money to reinstate these offices as a good-will gesture to veterans and their families. But, it was not to be.

Now, to add insult to injury, Sydney veteran Ron Clarke tells us they’ve gotten one more slap in the face as the federal government is transferring veterans’ medical records to Iron Mountain Holdings, a U.S. based company. This is also upsetting Sackville – Eastern Shore MP Peter Stoffer who warns the government is closing what are known as treatment authorization centres. These centres are responsible


for approving treatments needed by our veterans. That approval will now have to be forwarded to a private company, one whose identity is not known publically at this time.

I spoke with Stoffer, who told me this decision, which also affects the RCMP, was made without consultation with veterans, the Opposition or the public. He said if the reasoning behind this is to save money it is only short term because when you deal with private industry, any company has to make money and in the long run the taxpayers will be the losers.

Stoffer warns the additional step to get approval for changes to treatment for a veteran will also take longer to be approved. At present if a veteran needs a change he or she goes to their doctor or other professional, who then recommends a change to Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) where the records are presently held, and personnel there can approve the change if it is needed. With this new system, when DVA gets the request for a change it will have to access the veteran’s file from Iron Mountain, then send it to a private company for authorization. It will then come back to DVA for final approval. Unfortunately, we do not know as yet what private company will handle the requests nor where the DVA offices that will give the final approval will be located.

Stoffer tells me there are a lot of unknowns still to be considered, which is very upsetting to the veterans.

It’s also unfortunate that veterans believe they have to begin a war chest to get rid of the Conservatives in order to solve this problem. Veterans’ organizations have always been and should always be non-political. The fact they feel this is their only hope tells the story of how deeply they’ve been hurt by the present federal government.

@$:What a wonderful glory for Canada when Justin Wadsworth, a ski coach from Canada, spotted a Russian competitor at Sochi dragging himself along a track after he fell and broke one ski. Wadsworth, whose team at Sochi was out of contention, grabbed a spare ski, took it to him and helped him put it on. He wanted the Russian to have dignity as he crossed the finish line. His random act of kindness was broadcast to the world by others which showed his kindness was from the heart.

And local businessman, Tim DeVouge, deserves congratulations for his kindess. The general manager of Simply Automotive and Shine Factory in Truro has agreed to pay the estimated cost of $200 a week to pay for bus service for the Disabled Consumers Society of Colchester’s able transit bus which brings VON clients to its adult day programs. I have read and told stories to these people and saw first hand the joy they get out of being together for various programs. DeVouge told the Truro News that he was prompted to help because of the blessings he has received from the community during the years. Hopefully he receives many more blessings because of his own kindness.

Hattie Dyck is a local author and volunteer who enjoys writing, telling, and listening to local stories.


Organizations: Department of Veterans Affairs, Iron Mountain Holdings, RCMP Conservatives Disabled Consumers Society of Colchester Truro News

Geographic location: Canada, Ottawa, Sydney

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