Thomas D. Irvine, CD
The Royal Canadian Legion
I recently had the opportunity to visit with residents and staff of Ste. Anne’s Hospital in Montreal – a place that offers long-term care for Veterans in the region. I was both impressed and concerned.
Alongside my colleagues from the Legion’s National Headquarters, the visit was the result of a letter from a Veteran at the hospital who shared with me his grave concerns about a change in the level of care. Our team heard from residents who described a decreased level of care since the government delegated oversight of the hospital to the province of Quebec in 2016.
One of the hospital’s residents began a class action lawsuit in an effort to improve the situation. While the Legion does not actively engage in such legal proceedings, we do push for increased support to veterans’ care in all long-term care settings, as required.
We took part in a Veteran’s Committee meeting, also attended by hospital officials and representatives of Veterans Affairs Canada. Residents voiced their concerns, sharing some specific examples of what they have experienced. Staff responded to the issues on the spot and I believe the meeting played an important advocacy role in terms of fostering a greater understanding of the situation by all parties involved.
During a delightful lunch with Veterans and while touring the facility, our team witnessed the incredible work done by caring people at centres like Ste. Anne’s. We met with members of the Veteran Day Care Program, which caters to area Veterans. They are picked up at their homes so they can join others for a fun morning of arts and crafts, physical exercise and an enjoyable lunch.
As advocates for veterans’ well-being, we will continue to monitor the level of support provided to our veterans in long-term care facilities across Canada. As part of our current advocacy agenda, we are asking government for increased access to a program that benefits frail veterans – one that allows them to stay in their homes longer while still accessing important supports. We also want all eligible Canadian Armed Forces veterans to receive preferred access to vacant long term care beds – something that is not currently happening with consistency.
We care deeply about our Veterans in long term care. The Royal Canadian Legion delivers the Outreach and Visitation Initiative on behalf of Veterans Affairs Canada and through this important partnership, Legion volunteers make thousands of face-to-face social visits with Veterans in long term care each year. These visits also provide an opportunity to hear and pass along any concerns.
The Legion will remain dedicated to advocating with government, hospitals, or other partners, to help ensure the best care possible for aging and frail Veterans across our country.