NDP to new Veterans Affairs Minister: time to change direction

NDP offers list of priorities that need new minister’s urgent attention – including the immediate reopening of veteran’s offices

OTTAWA/SACKVILLE – NDP leader Tom Mulcair welcomed the demotion of minister Fantino today but warned that a change of direction is needed, not just a shuffle of ministers.

“Our best wishes to Erin O’Toole as a new Minister,” said Mr. Mulcair. “Now let’s see him open the nine offices that were closed by the Conservatives and implement the all-party committee report on the New Veterans Charter.”

NDP Veterans Affairs Critic Peter Stoffer added: “I congratulate Mr. O’Toole on his appointment. Veterans in Canada have been looking for new leadership at the federal level and have become extremely upset about the direction Stephen Harper has been taking. The new Minister has a big challenge in front of him and I hope he is ready to listen and take immediate action.”

New Democrats added that this is Stephen Harper’s fifth Veteran’s Affairs minister and the 11th different minister in the past 17 years of Conservative and Liberal governments.

Priorities needing immediate attention from the new minister include:

  • Re-opening regional Veterans Affairs offices
  • Implementing the unanimous New Veterans Charter report recommendations from the House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs
  • Eliminating the CPP clawback at age 65 for disabled CF and RCMP veterans
  • Allowing all modern-day veterans access to long term care beds
  • Eliminating the Veterans Review and Appeal Board
  • Calling an inquiry into the chemical spraying at CFB Gagetown, and offer compensation to military members and civilians who were exposed.

“New Democrats have many suggestions on improving benefits and services to CF and RCMP veterans and their families,” concluded Stoffer. “We hope this minster is willing to work with us and get this done.”