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Conservatives ‘do honour service of veterans’

Bill C-55, the Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act, came into force in October 2011

Editor, The News:

Re: Take care of all veterans (The News, Nov. 8).

The federal government considers support for veterans a high priority. We are proud of the job they have done and we stand beside them every step of the way.

In fact, the federal government has substantially increased benefits for veterans. In 2005, before the Conservatives formed government, the New Veterans Charter (NVC) was passed, with all-party support, and introduced a set of programs and services designed to help veterans transition into everyday life.

The NVC includes rehabilitation services, health benefits, career transition services, financial benefits, including the monthly Earnings Loss Benefit and the Permanent Impairment Allowance, disability award, death and detention (prisoner of war) benefits, and support through case management and mental health services.

After the implementation of the NVC, some veterans expressed concern that it was not meeting the needs of the individuals it serves.

The federal government responded by bringing forward Bill C-55, the Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act, which came into force in October 2011.

The enhancements in the act include improving access to monthly benefits of up to $1,632 for approximately 3,500 seriously disabled veterans, providing an additional $1,000 per month to approximately 500 veterans who cannot be suitably or gainfully employed, offering flexible payment options for disability awards, and providing a minimum annual pre-tax income of $40,000 for CF veterans participating in VAC’s rehabilitation program.

The NVC was implemented after considerable consultation with veterans’ groups, which favoured this approach rather than a pension system. In latter, veterans only receive a monthly cheque (at an average of $800/month) and some related health care.

While the Conservative government has taken significant steps to provide for our veterans, we realize that the NVC may still need further improvements, and we are committed to an immediate review to address the main issues facing veterans.

On Nov. 7, the federal government announced new legislation intended to provide medically released veterans who were injured in service to Canada the top level of priority consideration for job openings in the public service.

The changes are expected to come into force in spring 2014 and will apply to veterans who had a priority entitlement on or after April 1, 2012.

Through initiatives such as Helmets to Hardhats and VAC’s Hire a Veteran program, the Conservative government continues to work with corporate Canada to help veterans find new opportunities to successfully make the transition from military to civilian life.

Randy Kamp, MP

Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission