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Read the latest news releases and articles from Dominion Command of The Royal Canadian Legion.

 

The Royal Canadian Legion assessment: 2024 federal budget

Apr 16, 2024
The Royal Canadian Legion is encouraged by crucial financial and conceptual commitments in the 2024 federal budget as they relate to veterans and defence, yet alarmed by the lack of ready-to-go plans and actions to immediately tackle ongoing issues affecting still serving and retired Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members.
Canadian money

Long on positive commitments…short on timely implementation  

OTTAWA, ON, 16 April 2024 – The Royal Canadian Legion is encouraged by crucial financial and conceptual commitments in the 2024 federal budget as they relate to veterans and defence, yet alarmed by the lack of ready-to-go plans and actions to immediately tackle ongoing issues affecting still serving and retired Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members.

“Details are sketchy,” says Bruce Julian, Dominion President. “We are at a time when a lot of negative situations are converging, from a lack of affordable housing for our CAF members to insufficient modernized equipment in the field. We acknowledge the crucial financial commitment in this budget, but we also need to see a detailed timetable with expeditious actions.”

The Legion is pleased to note new investments such as for the Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund, and further ongoing support for a telemedicine pilot project which would especially improve access for members located in more remote regions. However, in other areas of additional great concern, there are insufficient actions to produce immediate relief:
  • Housing: There is a commitment to look at re-purposing Crown lands for military housing, but it is not accompanied by a specific timeline to make a difference immediately. The government recently announced it will launch a $295 million housing strategy over 20 years but that’s an excessively long time frame. The proposal for the construction of 1,400 new military housing units over the next 20 years will not address the urgent need. This will also do little to address the CAF retention issues. With circulating reports of unhoused or precariously housed CAF members due to a likely range of causes today, our country needs a strategy “yesterday.”
  • Mental health: There is no mention of increased or better access to mental health supports, or new supports to tackle operational stress injuries faced by members.
  • Tackling the backlog: The backlog in disability claims continues, yet there is nothing in the budget to identify whether all temporary staff will be kept on permanently to help finally eliminate this pressing problem.

Some of the issues affecting still serving and veteran CAF members have been percolating for years, such as the need for improved transition planning and outcomes for members returning to civilian life. The outgoing CAF ombudsman recently expressed his own upset publicly, and in a media opinion piece described his experiences with the “never-ending” story of gathering advice and studies over many years but seeing no concrete action when it comes to some of his office’s key recommendations.

“Belaboured processes should be eliminated,” says Julian. “Those of us assisting CAF members know what is wrong, and the solution is not another plan potentially filled with administrative delays, we need a series of immediate actions – similar to how our country performed during the pandemic,” he emphasized. “The Legion connects closely with Canada’s veterans daily, and we hear of hardships and worries regularly. We are ready to help our government and stakeholders with insights, ideas, and support to facilitate timely activity. We are all in this together and we all need to be nimble.”

The Legion calls strongly upon successive governments to end what appears to be constant verbal and administrative quagmires that affect momentum. Our country needs to take concrete, visible steps towards fixing the issues that continue to plague our veteran population, now.

Further, the recently released Defence Policy Update (DPU) had great information about global security factors and provided clear objectives – but it was equally long on plans, commitments, and assurances of increased spending, while being short on the immediacy of implementation. This is especially problematic because the Legion notes that some items are contingent upon one another to have a tangible effect. Some key examples:

  • The timely delivery of needed new equipment is just around the corner, but there will likely be insufficient personnel to operate it.
  • Excellent initiatives and commitments are planned to modernize the CAF’s Navy, Air Force, Space and Cyber components, but its regular and reserve Army will remain in a poor state of readiness without sufficient changes.
  • There is a welcome increase in defence spending but it comes alongside the reality of defence budget cutbacks, so the funding increase is not what it looks like.
  • There is a crucial proposal to fix the outdated procurement process, but still no actual completion date for a planned – and urgently needed - procurement strategy.

The Legion will release a more detailed assessment focused on the Defence Policy Update in the coming days. It will also continue to monitor plans related to Budget 2024 investments that affect the CAF.

For more information on the full list of Legion priority areas, please visit: https://www.legion.ca/advocating-for-veterans/advocating-for-change

 

About The Royal Canadian Legion

Founded in 1925, the Legion is Canada’s largest Veteran support and community service organization. We are a non-profit organization with a national reach across Canada as well as branches in the U.S. and Europe. With 250,000 members, many of whom volunteer an extraordinary amount of time to their branches, our strength is in our numbers.

Public Relations / Media Inquiries: PublicRelations@Legion.ca/ 343-540-7604 - Nujma Bond

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