Legion Sees New Funding for Veterans Mental Health As Good First Step

Nov 24, 2014
Will continue to push for ACVA Recommendations and other improvements to New Veterans Charter

OTTAWA, ON, November 24th, 2014 – With an announcement of spending that will start to address mental health issues of Canadian Armed Forces personnel and Veterans, The Royal Canadian Legion is cautiously optimistic the government’s latest actions will begin to improve the lives of Veterans and their families.

“Both our Dominion Convention and the House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs (ACVA) Report (June 2014) entitled: “The New Veterans Charter: Moving Forward”, have recommended the federal government do more regarding mental health issues for our Veterans,” says Dominion President Tom Eagles. “This funding represents a small step forward on a very long road,” added Eagles.

One of the biggest challenges government will face is getting the necessary medical practitioners in place to provide these services. Staffing levels have long been an issue and throwing more money at program delivery without addressing staffing will not necessarily resolve this issue. The Legion will be carefully watching the government to provide more details on how exactly these funds will be allocated to meet the needs of Veterans and their families.

The Legion recognizes also that government is moving to address some of the recommendations from the ACVA report, such as making Military Family Resource Centres (MFRCs) available to more personnel. However, the Legion will not be dissuaded from its push the three major issues that need to be resolved now:

  • The Earning Loss Benefit (ELB) must be improved to provide 100% of pre-release income, continue for life and include increases for projected career earnings for a Canadian Armed Forces member;
  • The maximum disability award must be increased consistent with what is provided to injured civilian workers who received general damages in law court; and
  • The current inequity with regards to ELB for Class A and Class B (less than 180 days) Reservists for service attributed injuries must cease.

“It has taken a great deal of effort from the Legion, Veterans groups, Veterans themselves and all Canadians to get this action from government,” says Eagles. “But there is so much more to do, and I can promise you the Legion will never waver from its duty to ensure all Veterans get the highest level of care and benefits they deserve,” he says.

In having Veterans Affairs Canada and the Department of National Defence make this announcement the Legion is also encouraged to see cooperation between these departments. The transition phase a member of the Canadian Armed Forces goes through clearly touches on both departments meaning there is a level of responsibility that each must play in the continuum of care.

The Legion will be closely watching next, the release of the Auditor General’s report expected on November 25th and will be looking for even more improvements from government.

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For further information please contact Bruce Poulin at Dominion Command, at (613) 591-3335 ext. 241 or by cell at (613) 292-8760 or bruce.poulin@legion.ca6.