The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) as I understand, has been deliberately misinforming our veterans that the vital services they rely on will simply be removed and unavailable as a result of the closure of these offices. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is interesting that there is concern over the closure of nine VAC offices while we have actually expanded the number of offices to maximize services to veterans by utilizing approximately 600 Service Canada offices nation-wide to provide veterans with the services they need. This information is something that PSAC failed to provide to veterans. It is very sad that PSAC, or anyone else, would attempt to use our veterans as a means to accomplish their own political goals.
To set the record straight, veterans will always have the services and support they need from our Conservative government. It should be noted that where the VAC office has closed in five of the eight offices a Service Canada office offering services for veterans is in the same building where the former Veterans Affairs office was located. I have helped our veterans through my local offices in our riding or through their local Legion representative. Now they can also be served at Service Canada offices in the Medicine Hat riding. Services will always be there for veterans. We have moved a Veteran’s Affairs employee into the eight Service Canada offices to ensure our veterans continue to receive the benefits and services for which they are entitled. For those veterans who cannot come to an office, a case worker will be able to visit them in their home.
Furthermore, this government has been exceptionally supportive of our veterans through several initiatives such as the Helmets to Hardhats program to provide training and skills needed in the civilian community as well as doubling government contribution rates to the Burial Services Fund. We have increased investments in veteran’s benefits by nearly $5 billion in new funding since coming to office in 2006.
I have the utmost respect for the men and women in this country who have risked their lives to protect us. I urge the Public Service Alliance of Canada to respect our veterans and provide them with the full story; do not manipulate them into playing your political games. Veterans have fought enough for all of us. They should not be expected to fight PSAC’s political battles as well.
In closing, I would like to assure all veterans in Canada that the services they need will always be there for them. I urge veterans to contact my office should they have any concerns surrounding Veterans Affairs and my office staff will be glad to work with you.
MP LAVAR PAYNE