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37th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

Sub-Committee on Veterans Affairs of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs


EVIDENCE

CONTENTS

Thursday, April 11, 2002




¿ 0905
V         The Chair (Ms. Colleen Beaumier (Brampton West--Mississauga, Lib.))
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton (Chairman, National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton

¿ 0910
V         

¿ 0915

¿ 0920

¿ 0925

¿ 0930
V         Ms. Jean MacMillan (Assistant Director, Administrative, National Service Bureau, National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada)
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         

¿ 0935

¿ 0940
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Bailey

¿ 0950
V         
V         The Chair
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mr. Roy Bailey
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         The Chair
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville--Musquodoboit Valley--Eastern Shore, NDP)
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton

¿ 0955
V         Mr. Peter Stoffer
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mr. Peter Stoffer
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mr. Stoffer
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mr. Stoffer
V         The Chair
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton

À 1000
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Bob Wood (Nipissing, Lib.)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Wood
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mr. Bob Wood

À 1005
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mr. Bob Wood
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mr. Bob Wood
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mr. Wood
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Ms. Jean MacMillan
V         Mr. Bob Wood
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mr. Bob Wood
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mr. Bob Wood
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mr. Bob Wood
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mr. Bob Wood
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mr. Bob Wood
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mr. Bob Wood
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton

À 1010
V         Mr. Bob Wood
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mr. Wood
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Wayne
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mrs. Elsie Wayne

À 1015
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mrs. Elsie Wayne
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Roy Bailey

À 1020
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mr. Roy Bailey
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mr. Roy Bailey
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mr. Roy Bailey
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Bob Wood

À 1025
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Wood
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mr. Bob Wood
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mr. Bob Wood
V         Mr. Brian Forbes (Honorary Secretary General and Legal Counsel, National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada)

À 1030
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Peter Stoffer
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mr. Peter Stoffer
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mr. Peter Stoffer
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mr. Brian Forbes

À 1035
V         Mr. Peter Stoffer
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Elsie Wayne
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mrs. Elsie Wayne
V         Mr. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mrs. Elsie Wayne
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mrs. Elsie Wayne
V         The Chair

À 1040
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton

À 1045
V         The Chair
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Bob Wood
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Ms. Faye Lavell (Director, National Service Bureau, National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada)
V         Mr. Bob Wood
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mr. Bob Wood
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton

À 1050
V         Mr. Bob Wood
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         Mr. Bob Wood
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         The Chair
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Clifford Chadderton
V         The Chair
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Peter Stoffer
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton

À 1055
V         Mr. Peter Stoffer
V         The Chair
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         The Chair
V         Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton
V         The Chair










CANADA

Sub-Committee on Veterans Affairs of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs


NUMBER 007 
l
1st SESSION 
l
37th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Thursday, April 11, 2002

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

¿  +(0905)  

[English]

+

    The Chair (Ms. Colleen Beaumier (Brampton West--Mississauga, Lib.)): I would like to call to order the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs. This morning we're very honoured to have with us Clifford Chadderton, chairman of the National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada. I have to tell you your reputation precedes you, so we're expecting some pretty good stuff this morning, without mincing of words.

+-

    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton (Chairman, National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada): Thank you.

+-

    The Chair: With him are Brian Forbes, honorary secretary general and legal counsel, Faye Lavell, director of the National Service Bureau, and Jean MacMillan, assistant director, administrative, National Service Bureau.

    Welcome.

+-

    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: Thank you, Madam Chair.

    I think I have followed all the parliamentary procedures. On a lighter note, I might say, this is my 79th appearance before a parliamentary committee. I keep track. We did prepare a submission. I sent it in plenty of time for your secretariat to have it translated.

    Before we get into that, I thought we might spend some time trying to demystify some of the things that are going on. I will do that in my opening remarks, if I may.

    First, there has been a lot of discussion about the standard of care in those institutions where veterans are patients. I want to make it very clear that so far as the National Council is concerned--and we represent some 40 organizations--we will not be dealing with that, and I should explain why.

    There are 79 institutions across Canada where Veterans Affairs has priority access contracts. They extend all the way from Whitehorse to Newfoundland. I think that it would be an impossibility to try to put into motion some system where the standard of care for a veteran occupying a long-term care bed is the same across Canada. You're dealing with 79 institutions. You're dealing with all the provinces and the territories.

    So we will not get into that, but I must also say, having studied it at length and dealt with many of these institutions over the years, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that all these institutions are governed. If they're hospitals, there's the accreditation procedure. If they happen to be long-term care institutions that are not hospitals, they are certainly governed by some form of provincial legislation. What has been happening is that where complaints have been raised--take the Perley-Rideau as an example--that the standard of care for veterans was below what we might expect, Veterans Affairs has been pouring some more money in. That creates two classes of patient, and that not only is acceptable, but it's inevitable, no matter where you are. If DVA says you are a veteran, we will pay $170 a day extra for you, and in the next bed there is a civilian with no status under DVA, nobody is going to pay $170 a day extra for that patient. So if we put veterans in institutions that are basically civilian institutions, the standard of care can be overcome by Veterans Affairs Canada putting more money in. But are we not overlooking the fact that provincial legislation does provide for accreditation, it provides for the standard of care of that particular institution, whatever the province?

¿  +-(0910)  

    We are certainly in favour of the highest possible standard of care for veterans, but we're also very much aware of the fact that to impose this on something like 79 institutions is an impossible situation. There is a report I have here we had done for us in 1998 that lists all of the 79 institutions across Canada, what they provide, and what they do not provide. I realize that parliamentary procedure may prohibit this, but I would like to make reference to it, and if it's possible, I would like the committee members to have copies of it. It's a very valuable document. If that's acceptable, I would ask my colleague to distribute these. I regret they are only in English here, but we presented it to a Senate subcommittee and had it translated two years ago. We were just unable on the spur of the moment to come up with a translation, but we'll make sure you get the translation of it.

+-

     As I mentioned, the committee members, I'm sure, will find this to be a very valuable document, because it sets out all the 79 institutions, and I think it indicates my point that to impose upon 79 institutions a standard of care right across the board is impossible. You're just dealing with people, you're dealing with different institutions, some of them well-funded, some of them very small. Some of them have three beds in them. We are not opposed to a standard of care, but we are going to get into something that is much more practical. Let's get on, then, to the question of beds.

    There's been a lot of talk about how the older veteran should be looked after, but in the final analysis, if there is not a long-term care bed available for that veteran, everything else is going to go by the board. With the number of priority access beds right now, we have seen a number of figures, and we are going to present those to the committee, but we are having a great deal of difficulty in trying to decide. VAC has 4,310 priority access beds, and that includes Ste Anne's Hospital. They have community-funded beds in community institutions, such as the Soldiers Memorial in Nova Scotia. They have contracts for another 2,600 beds. My people have just come back from Charlottetown, where they spent a week trying to unravel this whole thing. We found out that though Veteran's Affairs was talking about a figure of 10,000 beds, they had the money for 10,000 beds, but the beds are just not there, and I think we have to accept that.

    I'd like to move on next to the Auditor General's report of three years ago, and again two years ago, which identified what we call the phantom veteran. He identified how many veterans are out there who might require a bed under the long-term care bed situation in Veteran's Affairs, and it was at least 50,000 to 60,000. We can look at stop-gap solutions, but the average age of the veteran is 80, and given another few years, you're going to have a lot of overseas veterans looking for beds. They're going to call back their implied contract that they would be looked after in their old age. So we really have to try to find some way to identify more priority access beds.

¿  +-(0915)  

    Next we want to come to the waiting lists. We have been attempting, in particular Jean MacMillan, who spent a week in Charlottetown, to determine the figure for waiting lists out there for veterans who are looking for long-term care beds. In Quebec they identified 64; Ontario 429; the prairie region 312; Pacific 164; and Atlantic 331. That totals 1,300. However, that's not the picture. That is only in 18 institutions.

    That's why I wanted the committee to have this document, because there are 79 institutions involved. What the waiting list might be in, let's say, the Cariboo Memorial Veterans Pavilion we may not know. Yarmouth Hospital is one I know very well, and there we don't know. So we caution the committee about being led astray in regard to the number of veterans who are on the waiting lists. The best figure we could come up with, after arguing with the Veterans Affairs people, was 1,300, but when we boiled it down, it was only for 18 of the 79 institutions. So there are out there far more than 1,300 eligible veterans who are either right now looking for beds or will be looking for beds.

    I want to pay a compliment to the Veterans Affairs officials in Charlottetown, who have been looking for alternatives, but I must say, in all honesty, I think these alternatives are not going to do the job. They say, if a man wants to go on the waiting list to go into the Yarmouth Hospital, he's already on VIP, Veterans Independence Program, so the department can provide for groundskeeping, housekeeping, and all those things that come under the VIP. The Veterans Affairs officials tell us that's one of their solutions.

    Then they get onto what they call the Home Pilot Project--and some of us know something about that. If a man makes an application to get into Veterans Affairs for a long-term care bed, we'll have a counsellor talk to him, and that counsellor may say to the veteran, rather than put you in a bed, we'll put you on VIP. That's what's called VIP-like services. It's also known as the Home Pilot Project, so your committee may hear some more about this. Again, the factor that is missing here is that it's one thing to say to a veteran, yes, you can stay in your own home, and we will provide some additional funding, but the big problem is that the caregiver is the veteran's wife or spouse, and in most cases she would be exactly the same age as he is, and she's just unable to get him in and out of a bath tub, to be practical about it. So these VIP-like services, saying, no bed for you, stay at home, we'll pay you some extra money, and your spouse can look after you, are pie-in-the-sky, as far as we're concerned. It looks good on paper--and I've heard briefings on it--but it really doesn't work. And that's the current answer we're getting from Veterans Affairs about what's known as the overseas veteran.

    I should stop and explain to the committee that there are four groups of veterans who are eligible under the health care regulations. The number one priority is your war disability pensioner. The second priority is your veteran who is on War Veterans Allowance, in other words, income-qualified. Your third category is very difficult to explain, but it's called the near-WVA category; that is a man whose income has been reduced to the point where he would be about in the same income level as a man who could qualify for a WVA. The fourth category is the big one. The health regulations say any veteran with overseas service is entitled to a long-term care bed. That's where the Auditor General comes up with a figure of 50,000 or 60,000.

¿  +-(0920)  

    I sympathize with the bureaucrats in Charlottetown who have been asked to find some way to come up with programs short of finding a bed, but all these things are stop-gap solutions. They sound good. I heard the assistant deputy minister at the meeting of the VAC Canadian Forces Advisory Council two nights ago say, there is no problem up there; we have ways and means of looking after these people. They may have ways and means of looking after the number right now, but that doesn't concern me. What concerns me is what the situation is going to be, say, two years from now. As I said, leaving the veteran in his own home does not take into account the fact that his spouse is the same age or older, is probably just as infirm, probably herself is a candidate for some sort of long-term care bed solution.

    So by way of my opening remarks, I think the most important thing that I could discuss with this committee is this. What is really being done to have something in place to meet the crisis that's going to happen when the veterans whose average age now is 80, World War II veterans, when all of a sudden their health deteriorates and they're looking for a bed? They can go to the province, and the provinces are not going to be very helpful. They'll put them on a waiting list and they will get no priority--I'll talk later about jumping the queue. In any event, the solution is there, and that's really what angers me.

    The solution is for Veterans Affairs to enter into contracts with all of the provinces and say to the provinces, if we provide an additional $170 a day, would you give priority access to a bed to a veteran? We don't want to throw a civilian out of a bed, but when a civilian is occupying a bed and leaves for whatever reason, so the bed becomes available, would you put a veteran in there as priority access? If the provinces say, we will not allow the veteran to jump the queue--and I can see their point--unless there is a financial inducement, Veterans Affairs tells us they have the money: if you put a veteran in a community hospital bed, Veterans Affairs can pay another $170 a day. There's no province I've talked to that is going to say no to that, and there's no hospital or administrator that's going to say no to that.

    That is really the main issue I want to address with this committee. I will now take a few moments, if I may, to run through the highlights of the submission that we sent to the committee.

¿  +-(0925)  

    First, I'd ask you to note the organizations that I'm representing here today. They're on page one. I want to explain the difference between NCVA, of which I'm the chairman, and, for example, the Royal Canadian Legion. In NCVA we have the leaders of all these organizations. Many of them are men who have made a real success of their rehabilitation. Many of them are professional men. Take the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion Association. The president, Jan DeVries, was a paratrooper. Through DVA, he got his education and became a qualified civil engineer. These are the kinds of people you would see if you attended a meeting of the National Council. We differ markedly from, say, the Royal Canadian Legion, or even the War Amps, my own organization, where we have 19 branches, and they are all membership branches. The NCVA is not that kind of thing. NCVA is a sort of federation, if you like, to which these organizations appoint, usually, their top man. I just wanted to clarify what NCVA is and what we represent.

    In the brief we mention a figure of 5,800 long-term care beds. That was when I wrote the brief. After my people spent a week in Charlottetown, they said the figure is not a total of nearly 10,000. There are, roughly, 4,500, counting Ste Anne's, as priority access beds, there is another community figure of 2,600, and the rest is all money: DVA has the money, but they don't have the beds.

    I've been to British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and Nova Scotia. In my discussions with the health officials in those provinces I have put it right to them, point blank. I said, if Veterans Affairs came to you and said, we want to put a veteran in a priority access bed, and would give you $170 a day additional, would you accept it? The answer is, yes.

    We've been talking about this for some time, and I don't know why Veterans Affairs is posing it, but they are coming along with these other stop-gap solutions I mentioned earlier, such as VIP-like services. There is one I missed that I think is really interesting. It's what they call waiting list management, community resources. That sounds great. I'm going to ask Jean to explain to you exactly what it means.

¿  +-(0930)  

+-

    Ms. Jean MacMillan (Assistant Director, Administrative, National Service Bureau, National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada): It refers to veterans who have put their name down to get into a departmental contract bed, a facility for veterans. There isn't a bed available, so Veterans Affairs is paying for their cost in a community facility, but the veteran would really prefer to be in the departmental bed. The contract facilities offer programs over and above what can be available in many of the community facilities. That's what veterans affairs is calling their wait-list management.

+-

    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: It simply means that instead of the plight of the veteran getting into the media because he can't get a hospital bed or a long-term care bed, the people of the district office will go and see him and say, we'll get you into a community bed. They get him into a community bed and they pay $170. What they're really doing is pouring oil on troubled waters. There are a lot of cases out there where if they broke out in the media, Veterans Affairs wouldn't look very good. With this wait-list management program, I admire them for it. I think, if I had the job of keeping everybody quiet, I'd come up with something like that too, but I just want to make sure that if this committee hears that term, you know what it is.

    Let's come to transfer agreements. In 1963 Mr. Lester Pearson held a meeting with all the heads of the veterans organizations and I happened to be there. He said, we're getting rid of all the DVA hospitals, because we can't provide the kind of care veterans need; will you agree to that? After a long discussion we agreed to it, on the understanding that these institutions would be transferred. Sunnybrook was transferred to the University of Toronto, for example. We agreed that they would be transferred to reputable provincial organizations, a teaching hospital or something like that, but nowhere along the line did we ever suggest that we were giving up what we knew would be the need when the World War II veteran reaches 80, but I'm afraid we did. We don't have those institutions. What we do have is something like 4,500 priority access beds under direct control of DVA, another 2,600 community access beds, and that's it.

    The point I want to make here is that the transfer agreements between Veterans Affairs and the institutions they gave up and their provinces are not being monitored. If you visit the Perley-Rideau, and I think this committee has, you could not find a better example. When that agreement went through, the understanding was that about $260 a day would be the cost of the care. Two years ago the Ontario government said, we're going to change the Perley-Rideau from a long-term care institution to a charitable institution, and as a result, the province only puts in $90 a day, not $260. Now DVA has again said they'll pour some extra money in to keep everybody quiet, but surely, this committee will understand that is a stop-gap solution.

+-

     I just wanted to make the point that transfer agreements are not being monitored. I'm not necessarily critical of them. Sometimes you can make agreements, and three or four years later, they're just not practical. But what is practical is that you have 160 veterans waiting to get into the Perley-Rideau, and they can't get in. That is the result of not monitoring the agreement, letting the province of Ontario off the hook, and trying to make it up by paying extra money to the Perley-Rideau. But we still have 160 veterans today who want to get into long-term care in the Perley-Rideau, and they cannot get in.

    It's such a simple thing to solve,. The beds are out there, and all the province is looking for is money. They always are--at the federal level, you certainly know that--but Veterans Affairs tells us they have the money. What they don't have is the contract. So let's go out and write contracts with the provinces, so you will have a number of priority access beds in B.C. or whatever the province is, and if a veteran goes in, you pay $170 a day. I cannot see any way of attacking the logic of that.

    To change direction, you hear a lot about the client-based approach. I want to demystify what that means.

    About 10 years ago Veterans Affairs in Charlottetown started to talk about the client-based approach. It really meant that admission to any institution where DVA is paying, whether it's a community institution or one of their own, would be on the basis of medical need. Am I going to attack that? Not necessarily, but I want to point out to you that this works very much to the disadvantage of the pensioner.

    The way it works is this. Let's take an overseas veteran who has emphysema and needs immediate admission. He goes right to the top of the list. Take a second veteran, who is a pensioner, has a leg off, ulcers and what not. He does not go to the top of the list. He stays down at 164 on the list, because they say we must accept what's called the client-based approach.

    The client-based approach sounds very good, and I hate to attack it, because what I'm saying is, do you give a bed to a pensioner at the expense of another veteran who doesn't have a pension, but has a medical need? I say, yes, you have to, because the department and regulations say the number one priority is pensioners. So again, I wanted to demystify that, because I think your committee will hear more about it.

¿  +-(0935)  

    We have heard in veterans' circles about the need to give the widows something to carry on after the veteran dies. There have been some submissions that have said the way to do it is to carry on VIP for the widow. VIP pays for housekeeping, groundskeeping, repairs to the home, all those kinds of things. It would be very nice to be able to do that for every widow, but it's very impractical. Some of the widows are drawing pensions of 30 percent or something like that, and there are probably 200 or more, 1,000 of them somewhere along the line, so that's very impractical.

    So what we have suggested in our submission is that you have to divide the widows into three groups. First, there are those who are less than 50 percent. If the veteran died and his pension was 50 percent or more, the widow went right to the top of the list of 100 percent. However, when you come to what you're going to do after the man dies, can you take all of those at 50 percent to 100 percent in? I don't think so. I think you have to go to what we call the seriously disabled veteran and do something. I'll explain it to you this way. The man is alive, he's getting a pension of 100 percent, he's getting exception and capacity allowance of $300 or $400 a month, he's getting attendance allowance of $300 or $400 a month. That works out to about $4,500 a month. When the man dies, the VIP is carried on for one year, but the rest of it ceases, and the widow drops from $4,500 a month to about $1,600 a month. That is a very serious thing.

    What we are suggesting, then, is that you take the top 20 percent of your pensioners, those who are 80 percent or more, and say these conditions must apply. First, a man must have had this condition for at least 10 years. Second, there must be a caregiver who's been doing the job for at least 25 years. If those two things apply, you give her VIP for life, because she is the one who did the job all the way through, who looked after the very seriously ill 80 percent or more pensioner. And you give her another $150 a month added to her VIP. That means that her income would go from $4,500 down to something like $2,500 a month.

    NCVA has been studying this for years. We said, how are we going to approach it? You can't give it to all widows. Veterans Affairs have already produced cost figures, in any case, and that's out of the question. But what are you really going to do for the very deserving wife, for the wife who looked after this 80 percent, 90 percent, or 100 percent pensioner for 25 years, cut her right off and say, you're no different from anybody else? There is a way to do it, and the way to do it is to give her VIP if she has been doing it for 25 years, as long as the guy had his pension for 10 years.

    Those really are the main points in my submission. I'm prepared to discuss any other issues with this committee, and I'll just list them: Veterans Affairs trust accounts, a big issue with the media; compensation for POW's of Dieppe--I can explain why that should be different from others; compensation for aboriginal veterans, which is going to be a much larger issue; the question of removal of war graves in France and Belgium, which is something I'm dealing with right now; finally, the execution of deserters in World War I. These are the big issues that have been in the media affecting veterans. I'm willing to discuss any one of them.

    Those of you who know me know I never read a brief, I come in and try to tell you what is in there in plain, simple language, then take any questions on anything. If they're hard questions, if they're critical questions, that's fine. Veterans Affairs is a controversial area. I always laugh when I have a chance to talk to a new minister and he thinks he's got a shoe in, he thinks he was appointed as minister and this is an easy department. I always tell them, it's probably the toughest department to administer, because out there you've got all these veterans who are getting older and having a tough time, and the legislation can very easily get out of date.

    Thank you very much.

¿  +-(0940)  

+-

    The Chair: Thank you. I think you've generated many questions from us. It was very interesting.

    Mr. Bailey.

+-

    Mr. Roy Bailey (Souris--Moose Mountain, Canadian Alliance): Thank you, Madam Chairman.

    I'd say, Mr. Chadderton, there is an analogy with your saying to the minister this is one of the easiest departments. You should talk to the MPs on both sides of the House. Too many have the same opinion, that this is a nothing committee. I hate to say it, but that's my observation. It's not that they don't give much importance to it, but it isn't as important. We're way down on the list in importance. Of course, I have to disagree on that.

    It's rather ironic that the position of long-term beds is such as it is, because nobody knew at the end of World War II where the health care delivery system in Canada would be at this time. That in itself has put to us, and to you, sir, a real problem, because of the shortage of beds. In the province I come from, the last time I was home, I read in the paper that there were something like 31,000 people waiting for beds for elective surgery, the seniors mainly for knees, hips, shoulders, and so on. We have to understand, then, that veterans are in a real quandary about getting these services.

    I want to suggest to you--and I've given it some thought; I really went out on my own and did some visiting as well--that there are within range of the cities many small town facilities. Each province regulates them differently, even though they're provincial and some private. They have nurses and they have regular visits from doctors. They may be 30 miles out, but my God, if you drive across the city, you're going to drive 30 miles. They could be an answer at the present time. Around Regina these people would be quite willing to take veterans. One is about 32 miles out, a beautiful facility. I had my mother and my father in these facilities. It's the same basically across Canada. If they were sick, they maybe would go to the hospital for 24-hour observation and so on. On top of that, I also have my wife's sister. So I have a lot of experience with this.

    I'm wondering if we couldn't pursue that. In my area I could provide rooms for probably 50 of those on the waiting list right now. They never mentioned extra money. The most expensive seat on an airplane is an empty one, and the most expensive bed in a nursing home is an empty one.They could put two or three in there without increasing staff and without much more increase in the fundamentals. I think we should take advantage of this. Many of the towns in western Canada are going this way: the facilities are there and the facilities are not full.

    I have to bring that to your attention. I think that's just a terrific idea.

¿  +-(0950)  

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     Sir, I'd like to comment upon your attitude towards the VIP. I think that's long overdue. If, when the husband and wife were living together, they required the VIP services, it's almost for damn sure they are required now. So I like that idea, and in many instances till death.

    I want to bring up a point I think we should indeed explore, and that concerns dealing with veterans whose problems can't be proven to be war-related. The very fact that they are veterans tips the scale. They may be overseas people who came home.... I remember having to play baseball with these guys, and they were good. I see nothing wrong, but now they are experiencing--they are a little older than I am--some difficulties. It's not a war-related thing, so they get turned down. That really cuts me inside. As I mentioned when we had the people in, I think, if anyone who served in the Canadian Forces presents a case, and they go back to the review board and get one sentence back, your application has been denied, that's a damn disgrace. If your medical doctor did that to you, you'd say, what kind of a guy is that? That's the bone I have to pick with them.

    I like the idea of exploring these other areas in which we could meet the needs of some of our vets, and quite frankly, I think they should have first priority on this.

    Thank you, Madam Chair.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Since we didn't hear a question in all of that, we'll go to Mr. Stoffer.

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: May I comment on Mr. Bailey's remarks?

    This isn't practical. Your overseas veteran goes to the district office in Regina, or his wife or the doctor may write a letter. This man needs a long-term care bed. A counsellor goes out and says, well, we can put you on VIP, we can give you VIP-like services, or we can put you in our waiting list management program. It doesn't work with veterans. He wants a bed, and I can't for the life of me understand why the bureaucrats in DVA--and I'm very sympathetic and work closely with them--have come up with all these fancy terms and what not, when the beds are there and the provinces, as you say, are not necessarily asking for money. That's true. Some of them are not, but the hospital managers are. It's all right for the provincial government in Saskatchewan to say, we'll do this, but if you were the manager of a hospital--

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    Mr. Roy Bailey: The CEOs want money.

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: That's right. To me, it's a simple solution. You're dividing between the veteran on one side and the civilian on the other, but there's nothing new about that, we've been doing that for years, but if they went to one of these homes where this division doesn't take place....

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    The Chair: You talked about how people weren't taking this committee seriously, but you'll find that everyone on this committee fought to be on here, and we've got other people who wanted to be on it. We didn't have room for them. So I think you'll find it's a very enthusiastic and determined committee.

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: It always has done a marvellous job.

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    The Chair: Mr. Stoffer.

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    Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville--Musquodoboit Valley--Eastern Shore, NDP): Thank you, Madam Chair.

    Mr. Chadderton, my parents and eldest brother were liberated by the Canadian military in 1945 with the liberation of Holland, so I've always had an extremely strong affection for our veterans. But it's not just the veterans, it's also their family members. I don't mean to be critical in my question, but when you mentioned splitting the widows in three, as far as I'm concerned--correct me if I'm wrong--the spouse and family members of a veteran are just as integral to the armed forces as the veteran who serves overseas, whether they served in war, in Korea, peacekeeping, or the current Afghanistan situation.

    I work closely with the military family resource centres, and they're pushing very hard to have the widow taken care of after the veteran passes on . One year doesn't cut it. When you're saying put them in three groups, that sounds very bureaucratic. It means some widow may not have the same status as another woman. A widow should be taken care of in the same way as the veteran, if they are alive, until he or she goes into a nursing care facility or whatever, where those extra concerns won't be met. If I'm wrong on that, I'd like to know why.

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: The division of the widows is not my invention. That occurs right now in the department's health regulations, and also in the pension act. If a pensioner was below 50 percent, under the pension act, when the pensioner dies, the widow gets one-half. If he was getting 40 percent, she will get 20 percent. So they've already created one class of widow there. If the pension happens to be, let's say, 50 percent or more, and the man dies, that widow goes right to the top and gets the same pension as the 100 percent pensioner, even though the man may have only been receiving 60 percent.

    Veterans Affairs has said they cannot give a continuation of VIP to all widows, because it would be too costly. We say, let's apply some common sense here. The widow, where the pension was 50 percent, really didn't have to bathe him, cut his toenails, and look after him like a caregiver all of his life, but if the man was a 100% pensioner, she probably did all the driving, looked after him, was the caregiver. So your first 50 percent is provided in the pension act. Your next groups of widows at the moment, and there are two, are those who have gone to 100 percent. Veterans Affairs said they can't give VIP to all of those widows. So we say, okay, take the top 20 percent and give it to them.

    So I'm not inventing something as I go along. I'm saying that the division of widows is there, because of the way the legislation is written, sir.

¿  +-(0955)  

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    Mr. Peter Stoffer: Thank you.

    Also, you mentioned that you wanted to discuss, if possible, the aboriginal affairs concern.

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: Yes.

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    Mr. Peter Stoffer: I notice that aboriginal veterans of Canada are not part of your organization.

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: Yes they are. Are they not listed here? Yes. National Aboriginal Veterans Association.

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    Mr. Peter Stoffer: I apologize. I was just looking for “aboriginal”, sir.

    I'm getting in my office some Korean veterans, and Perry Bellegarde of Saskatchewan is bringing up the issue of compensation for the veterans. I was wondering if you could just elaborate a bit more on that.

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: Yes. We will be providing this in the French language, but we've already done a research review on the aboriginal veterans. I believe, again, Madam Beaumier, your clerk has these. They are being translated, because they're being published in our magazine. So I'll make sure the committee gets the ones in French. The research we've done in the last three to four years on aboriginal veterans is all in one nice compact article, which we could distribute to the committee now, if that's acceptable. I think you will be interested in it.

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    Mr. Peter Stoffer: Well, we should wait on it.

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    The Chair: Perhaps we should wait until the French has been completed.

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: Well, this is the article on the aboriginal veterans. We spent three and a half months putting this together. We published it as an article in our magazine The Fragment. It tells all the terrible story of what Canada did to the aboriginal veterans after World War II. The National Aboriginal Veterans Association, with Mr. Claude Petit, speaks for Métis, for status or treaty Indians, as they call them, on the reserves, and for treaty or status Indians off the reserve. So they are all encompassed in his group.

    What happened to these people? Let me tell you the story of recruiting. In 1940 the army put out a document saying, recruiting for the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, my own regiment, take your trucks and go to the Indian reserves, go to the areas where the Métis live, and try to get them into the army. This was after four months: boy, these guys will be great soldiers. A lot of Métis tried to enlist right after the war began, and they were turned down, because the recruiting officer said, I'm sorry, we're looking for people who have more than a grade three education. So they had a tough time, but eventually, they were enlisted. Any infantryman--and I am one--will tell you they were the best soldiers we had.

    But after the war, when they got out, they went through the DVA counselling system, and people said to them, maybe you should take a job as, let's say, a watchmaker; we'll train you as a watchmaker. Come on. You don't train Métis people as watchmakers, they're outdoors people. Those who were on the reserve lands could not take advantage of the Veterans' Land Act. There were many ways they were just discarded like that.

    It's now coming back to haunt us. There will be a meeting within the next two weeks with the president of the National Aboriginal Veterans, but I want to warn the committee--and I'm looking at Bob Wood when I talk about the merchant seamen, if you think that was bad-- because they were all trying to get something done, but working at cross-purposes. There are four different groups of aboriginal veterans. Fortunately, Claude Petit, who's a tremendous man, speaks for the National Aboriginal Veterans. We are going to forward a proposition that what we do with these people, instead of going out individually and finding, let's say, Claude--he had a tough time, but the other Métis did as well--is look at them as a group. You have to say, they were a group, they served this country. As a group, generally, they were thrown out on the economy. They couldn't act, they weren't allowed to join veterans organizations, they couldn't go into beer parlours, and they said, my God, I fought for this country--it didn't matter.

    So the National Aboriginal Veterans will be very much an issue in regard to veterans as we go over the next few months. But I wanted to tell you that they joined NCVA. We have been working with Mr. Petit and his people to come up with some sort of solution that we can put to the Minister of Veterans Affairs. As a matter of fact, it's no secret. The solution is simple. Take what was known as the War Service Gratuity, which these people got, look at it in 2002 dollars, get an honour roll of these people, and pay them.

À  +-(1000)  

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Wood.

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    Mr. Bob Wood (Nipissing, Lib.): Thank you, Madam Chair.

    To carry on what Mr. Chadderton just said, I don't know if we have issued Mr. Petit an invitation to appear before the committee, but it might not be a bad idea. Have we?

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    The Chair: He's coming in the fall.

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    Mr. Bob Wood: Okay.

    Mr. Chadderton, I just have a few quick questions and some concerns. I have a concern over one of your recommendations, recommendation vi. It says basically that if the province pulls back on funding below a certain level, the federal government should pick up the difference. My fear here is that the province, though I don't know if they would ever do that, could take the attitude of savIng some money: we'll cut back on funding to the veteran care facilities, because the feds will pay out of their pocket.

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: Mr. Wood, they're doing that now. It's exactly what they're doing, and it's why we are against it. We say it's not a question of money, it's a question of beds. Provide us with the beds, and it is $270 a day extra that VA can put out. But this is what happened at the Perley-Rideau. There were a lot of complaints, so they did an audit, and Veteran's Affairs said, okay, we will give you some more money to look after veterans. The province will play that game until they bleed the federal government, bring it to its knees. The idea is contract beds, not money.

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    Mr. Bob Wood: We did contract out a number of beds, I think, in Ontario over the last couple of years, right?

À  +-(1005)  

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: Yes.

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    Mr. Bob Wood: There are another 100 or so--

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: One hundred and fifty.

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    Mr. Bob Wood: Does your organization keep track of those?

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: Oh yes.

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    Mr. Bob Wood: How's that program working?

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: I'll turn the question over to Jean.

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    Ms. Jean MacMillan: It is working. Certainly, the issues that were arising a couple of years ago have been helped with these initiatives that have been put in place, but it is a stop-gap solution. There is concern that as the medical needs increase for the long-term care, the beds aren't going to be available as quickly as they need to be.

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    Mr. Bob Wood: I see.

    Recommendation viii is the one dealing with the surviving spouse who, in your words, “provided an exceptional level of caregiver assistance for a period of 25 years or more”. Who's going to determine what amounts to an exceptional level of care? I think, Mr. Chadderton, there's always a potential problem when it comes to grey areas like that. In your mind, how does it work?

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: That's why they have horse races, as they say. Veteran's Affairs now do the adjudication for the Canada Pension Commission. We have something called exceptional incapacity allowance, and they make those decisions every day. They say, this man's incapacity is exceptional. So you get a report on a widow. She started to look after this man in 1945, she's given an exceptional level of care. If you say she's given a level of care, that's not enough. It's got to be a widow who was there full-time for 25 years.

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    Mr. Bob Wood: So it has to be a 25 year deal. Peter talked about the three different levels, right?

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: Yes.

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    Mr. Bob Wood: But somebody could have exceptional care for only two years, if they're really in bad shape.

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: Yes. I agree, but--

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    Mr. Bob Wood: But you say it should usually be 25.

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: Mr. Wood, I'm setting out a proposal. It can be knocked around, changed--why not? Somewhere along the line what NCVA believes is that if a man had an 80 percent pension or more for ten years, and he had a spouse who gave exceptional level of care in the home for 25 years, she certainly is entitled to a continuation of VIP.

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    Mr. Bob Wood: With regard to your recommendation iii and the supporting comments at the end of the recommendation, your organization says, “Such specified priority access contract beds in a long-term care facility could be occupied by a non-veteran until such time as a qualified veteran can be moved into the institution”.

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: Yes.

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    Mr. Bob Wood: What happens to the non-vet who occupies the bed if a veteran comes along and says, I want your bed?

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: In my discussions with the provincial authorities there are two things they have said. Veterans will not jump the queue on a waiting list. Second, we are not going to put a civilian out of a bed to put a veteran in, but once the bed becomes empty, because the civilian non-veteran has left it, it becomes available for priority access by a veteran. I don't know if I got your question clearly.

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    Mr. Bob Wood: Yes, you did.

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: That's the way the provincial people look at it. They say, we have no responsibility for veterans, but if you want to put some extra money in, we're not going to kick civilians out of a bed, priority access means you go to the top of the list, you wait, and if a bed becomes available, because the lady who was in it died, we'll put the veteran in it.

À  +-(1010)  

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    Mr. Bob Wood: Do you think that's fair?

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: Yes, I do. In 1940 this government said we were going to war. They asked Canadians to volunteer, and Canadians did, a million of them. Not all went overseas, but we're talking only about overseas veterans. The fact that they are overseas veterans should give them some status over and above the person who did not serve. I know some people will say that's not right. In that case, why do we have a Department of Veterans Affairs, why did we have the pension act, why do we have all this legislation? Because we have selected the man who served his country and we've treated him differently from the man who did not.

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    Mr. Bob Wood: Yes, absolutely.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mrs. Wayne.

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    Mrs. Elsie Wayne (Saint John, PC): Thank you very much.

    I want to welcome Cliff to this committee today. We thank you very much. You've worked long and hard for the veterans, and we all know your voice has been heard, Cliff.

    When the hospitals were turned over in 1963 to the provinces, was there anything in that agreement that said those hospitals had to be at a certain standard, a federal standard of health care, like Ste. Anne's in Montreal, which rightly stayed under federal jurisdiction? Now we're asked by the dominion commander of the Royal Canadian Legion to travel, look at all our other veterans hospitals, and try to bring them up to the same standard. That tells me that the standard at the federal level is much higher than the standard at the provincial level. With respect--and I'm not being political--the cutbacks in transfer payments for health care affected all these hospitals. Was there anything in that agreement you know of, Cliff, that said they all had to stay at the same standard when they turned them over?

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: There was a general, shall we say, approach explained by the then Prime Minister that when Deer Lodge hospital in Winnipeg, for example, was turned over to provincial control, it would continue to operate, but it would not provide active treatment, it would develop into a long-term care, or a type 2 or type 3 care, institution. I never saw any figures. I think it was just an understanding that the care would be the same as it always has been. For example, in Toronto, they really followed it very closely. They built the Kilgour wing, they built the George Hees wing, and they said, now the standard of care in Sunnybrook is the same as it always was. As a matter of fact, in my view, it probably is.

    What the Legion's been talking about and what this committee's been talking about is going to the institutions where Veterans Affairs had a contract and seeing if they lived up to the contract. I think you would come up with some very interesting observations, because they did not.

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    Mrs. Elsie Wayne: Back in Saint John, my city, I was in total shock when they knocked down our DVA hospital. As you know, it was also a historic hospital. Now we've had to add on to this tiny Ridgewood hospital. The number you have here, the number of beds, 60, doesn't include that expansion we just opened, does it? It's all Alzheimer's; every one of our veterans in the addition has to be an Alzheimer's patient. I have to tell you, Madam Chair and Cliff, we have a very serious situation. Here we tear down the hospitals, and yet our veterans are getting older and in much more need.

    With the help of many people and our veterans, we were able to get a veteran into Ridgewood. He was falling on the floor, and at 4 o'clock in the morning my son, who had agreed to help this man, was being called to get him up off the floor. He couldn't walk or anything, yet he did not get one penny from Veterans Affairs, even for the lady who came in to bathe him; she couldn't lift him in the tub, he had to sit on this kind of stool, and she'd wash him from there. They never got a penny, but anyway, he is in there now. I had to buy him some blankets and things, and that's all right too.

    I am appalled. Has this been happening all across our veterans hospitals? They were going to take our chef out of the hospital in Saint John and fly in the bacon and eggs from Toronto. I said, I'm stepping down as the MP, and I bloody well will come out here and cook the darn bacon and eggs--we're not doing that. We kept our chef, Madam Chair, a young man who doesn't get paid a lot, but like me, said, they're not doing this. Are they doing that in other hospitals, do you know, flying in the bacon and eggs and the meals? They have MSG in them--holy God!

À  +-(1015)  

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: Yes, they are. That's why I said at the start of my remarks, though, is it the responsibility of VAC or the federal government to police 79 institutions, when all those institutions come under some form of provincial legislation? That's where they're wrong.

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    Mrs. Elsie Wayne: Madam Chair, when we're looking at Ste Anne's--and it's rightly under the federal jurisdiction, and we don't want to change that--I think we have to look at making sure all of the rules and regulations governing the rest of these, even though they've been turned over to the provinces, meet the federal level in all these areas, because this is truly sad. It just breaks my heart to see that.

    I have another concern. On your list here of things you said you would speak to is the removal of the war graves in France. We've been up in the House of Commons, we've been asking about this with our minister, and we haven't had a further update. Can you give us an update about the Somme situation, where they're going to put in a new airport? Where are we with that now?

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: There are meetings being held now between the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the French government, and the Belgian government. They say this is sacred ground, but it's not new. They have been moving graves for quite a long time where they put through an infrastructure, a new highway, and that type of thing. We can't hold up the progress that's required in France or in Belgium because they're graves. You've been there, you know what I mean. You drive down any of those roads, and there's a cemetery every 500 or 600 yards. I got the Michelin map out, gave it to the minister, and said, these are the cemeteries--how would you like to try to build a highway right through that area? I provided him with that, and if I'm not mistaken, the minister is over there now, or is going.

    The discussions should not be between the Canadian and French governments. The French government is in a tough position. They say they have to build this airport. They don't want to get in trouble with Canada, moving Canadians or Britons. The discussions are going on now, and I have a letter I can file with the committee, if you'd like to see it. These discussions are between the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the governments of Begium and France, to try to bring some order into the situation.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Bailey.

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    Mr. Roy Bailey: Thank you.

    I just got one of those traditional calls that they think they need me in the House, so I'll keep my last comment short. There were basically three things, sir, that I wanted to have you briefly mention. One is the trust account you mentioned, and of course, the situation with the veterans' claims. I've had the president of that particular association visit me several times. But I'll leave that for now.

    What I'm going to ask you about is a proposal--and I'm not sure of the source--where, on the death of a veteran, all the widows would automatically get the VIP. I have some trouble with this, because originally the VIP was developed because of need. Now we're taking a look at where the VIP is coming in strictly with money. Now they're saying the widows of all the vets, because they are widows, should be getting the full amount of the VIP, and if their income taxes are so high, let them claw back that portion. I have mixed emotions about that. The origin was need, and now we're taking a different approach. I'm not sure I would want to make that decision this day, but I would indeed like to hear your opinion.

À  +-(1020)  

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: The VIP, as a matter of fact, was originally only for pensioners, then they expanded it to war veterans' allowances etc. As a veterans' advocate, I would like to see every widow get VIP. However, I've also seen the financial studies by Veterans Affairs Canada, and it's an astronomical figure. That's why we say, all right, if we're going to get anything out of this, we've got to put forward a reasonable solution. That's why we said it should apply only for the 80 percent to 100 percent pensioner and only if there has been a caregiver in existence for 25 years. That Veterans Affairs could find the money for. What you're talking about I would like to see happen, but the money is not there.

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    Mr. Roy Bailey: Has anybody actually taken a good look at it with a financial magnifying glass to see what the clawback would really cost them?

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: Yes. There was a meeting on January 31, at which I was unable to be present. All the figures were brought forward, and the Legion was there, Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans was there, I had a representative there. It's just astronomical. Even when you get into the clawback, nothing was ever done about that, because they said in the first place, they didn't have enough money to pay the money out. So what we've said is, all right, bring your expectations down and deal with your top pensioner.

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    Mr. Roy Bailey: Which groups of people are favouring this proposal of everybody getting it, then clawing it back? Is DVA one?

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: DVA say they don't have the money for it, and that's it. It was a proposal of the Royal Canadian Legion.

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    Mr. Roy Bailey: All right. Thank you very much, sir.

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    The Chair: Mr. Bailey, could I ask you to stay? I'm going to suspend these proceedings for two minutes; it's normally done in camera, but I don't think anyone objects to this. We'll just suspend this to deal with the matter of the budget, because we do need time to pass our budget.

    Does everyone have a copy of the motion? Do we agree?

    (Motion agreed to--See Minutes of Proceedings)

    The Chair: I guess we can now resume. You don't see arguments in here on budgets and what we should do and where we should be going. As I say, it's a very enthusiastic group.

    Mr. Wood is next.

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    Mr. Bob Wood: Thank you.

À  +-(1025)  

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    The Chair: Can I just make one comment? I know there are a lot of issues we want to deal with, but we're really trying to write a report on health care. The other issues, I know, are extremely important, but perhaps we could have other meetings to discuss things at large.

    Mr. Wood.

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    Mr. Bob Wood: Right on.

    Mr. Chadderton, something that has been bugging me, and it's one of my little things, is the amount of time veterans, apparently, have to wait if they are looking for added benefits. I know that's always been a bit of a problem, and I think Mr. Bailey has suggested they just get a letter back saying, sorry, you're not going to get any extra money. There used to be a backlog of this stuff and you could wait as much as eight years before you got a hit. I find that unacceptable. I don't know if it's been changed, but you must run into that a lot with representing so many organizations. Is there any way we can streamline this? I think some of these people are there to help the veterans and set up the veterans, and in my mind, a veteran should be given just about anything he wants, because he was there when other people weren't. But a lot of these people think that money is their own, and they don't want to give it out to the veterans who really need it. Do you have any opinions on how we can streamline this thing, so that when a veteran applies for added benefits, whether it's a hearing problem or any other problem, we can get this thing moving and they don't have to wait for so long? Half the time they might have passed away before their hearing has even come up.

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: You're quite right, sir. We have no objection to the time taken by VAC, who make the original decision, or the Veterans Review and Appeal Board, who make the final decision, if it's a very difficult case. If it's a person who has a serious disability and, stemming from that, three or four other disabilities, some of those do take a lot of time. Where we feel the streamlining could come in, almost to the point of pushing buttons, is in cases like hearing cases, where you've got an audio report. The man served, he was in the gunners or what have you. That's where they spend oodles and oodles of time on cases that are very simply dealt with. Australia, for example--and I've studied their system--simply put a template on the thing and say, “Yes. Qualifies”. They push the button, and that's it. It's 10 minutes.

    On a hearing case, by the time it goes through DVA, it's turned down, it goes to the Bureau of Pension Advocates, they get all the expert opinions, the hearings, and what not, three or four years can expire. I really think there are no complaints about the difficult cases. The simple cases could be handled much more quickly than they are. I don't think I can give you a better answer than that.

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    Mr. Bob Wood: That's a good answer, but as the chair just said, our role is to try to make it easier for veterans and to make sure they get the proper care. How do we get the bureaucrats off their derrières to do this in a quick and efficient manner?

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: Recommendations from this committee have had that effect in the past. I sat before this committee on pension reform five years ago, and they redid the whole system. They said the original decision would be made by Veterans Affairs, not by the Canada Pension Commission, which was abolished. If there is an appeal, it will go through the Bureau of Pension Advocates, and the Bureau of Pension Advocates will then take the appeal to the Veterans Review and Appeal Board. If there is a backlog, it's probably at the level of the Bureau of Pension Advocates, but I think you should have them in front of you to speak for themselves. We don't deal with them. We don't go through the Bureau of Pension Advocates, but we know that if you take a case through there, they try to do the very best job they can, even though it takes a lot of time.

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    Mr. Bob Wood: How successful are you?

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    Mr. Brian Forbes (Honorary Secretary General and Legal Counsel, National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada): We tend to use written submissions, which gives us access to the system in an expeditious way, as opposed to having the veteran in a hearing where you have to schedule his timing, the timing of the board, the timing of the review panel, and we've been given terrific access on written submissions. Quite frankly, with our clientele--we're talking largely war amps 75 to 80 years of age--a hearing is not what that veteran wants. He wants an expeditious decision and he wants his benefits, and our success levels, without being boastful, are very high.

À  +-(1030)  

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    The Chair: Mr. Stoffer, please.

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    Mr. Peter Stoffer: Thank you very much.

    I would like to thank our researchers for the following two questions.

    Sir, with the nursing shortages in the provinces across the country, is your association expressing concerns to the premiers on that issue when it comes to care of our veterans?

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: Not to the premiers. The Nursing Sisters' Association of Canada is a member of the National Council, and they submitted, with some assistance from us, their own brief about the shortage of nurses, the whole question of training, the question of the status of a nurse's aid, and that type of thing. They submitted all that information to the former minister and the former deputy minister. When it comes down to the provinces, of course, we don't have any direct connection. The nurses' association does, but they're looking at it only from the point of view of service to veterans.

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    Mr. Peter Stoffer: Thank you.

    Also, a lot of women have served overseas in various functions, as with the Red Cross corps, the St. John's Ambulance, and the Wrens. Do you feel enough attention is being paid to women veterans in our facilities?

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: You would be aware, I'm sure, that VAC has just published a book entitled Women in the Services. The answer to your question is, no. They were ignored, and as a result of some submissions from all organizations and others, came a fairly detailed study, and they've put it out in the form of a pretty thick booklet. It tells what they did. Unfortunately, when it came to rehabilitation, the answer from the old DVA was, well, you're a good-looking girl, you go and get married and raise a family.

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    Mr. Peter Stoffer: Also, there have been some changes to the disability tax credit forms that have gone out across the country. The form says, right on the front page, that if you can go 50 metres on a flat surface with a device, you no longer qualify. We've been dealing with this issue in Nova Scotia, and I know Elsie, Bill, and the rest have. We have veterans who are amputees, who fought and served the country, now being told they are no longer disabled. I'd love your opinion on that, because we find it one of the most offensive pieces of documentation ever to come out of the government. The all-party committee has asked them to change it, and still we get, they'll have to appeal. I'd love your opinion on that, please.

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: May I refer this to Mr. Forbes, a lawyer? Between the two of us, we have appeared in front of a number of provincial adjudicative bodies on this very issue.

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    Mr. Brian Forbes: Peter, I think it's a very serious concern. In fact, we have had to go to the steps of the Tax Court, which is the final appeal, on numerous occasions, even on behalf of war amputees, and particularly on behalf of child amputees, which is another element of the war amps programs, so that their families can get the tax credit for the young amputee. The problem we have is that the definitions the income tax people, now the Canadian Customs and Revenue Agency, have created are extremely stringent, you're right, and unrealistic. The big problem is that this is something a doctor has to respond to on behalf of the taxpayer, sometimes the amputee veteran, sometimes the child amputee's parent. How does a doctor respond to that? Most people, theoretically, could walk 50 metres with assistance, but the question in the act, which is sometimes lost in the analysis, is, how much time does it take to walk the 50 metres? That is actually part of the criteria. The tax people don't like to talk about that, but you can win many cases on the basis of, oh, yes, I can walk 50 metres, but it's going to take me three and four times the average person's time to walk the 50 metres. We win a lot of cases on that basis, Peter, but your point is valid.

    I would very much be interested in any committee's efforts to try to challenge the Revenue people. I know it has been happening, but I think the more effort that is made in this area, the better. I know this sounds quite melodramatic, but it's our view that Revenue has attempted, through the use of definitions and administrative tools, to eliminate literally thousands of claimants. We were very offended regarding war amputees, Mr. Chatterton wrote to the minister many years ago, and I think that addressed the subject to some degree. Our major concern, though, is with child amputees and other disabled who don't have that kind of representation. We feel our representation matters, but there are tens of thousands of taxpayers who don't have representation. I would suggest to you, with all due respect, that it may be part of this committee's role and other committees' roles to get at the issue, because the more pressure that's brought to bear, the better.

À  +-(1035)  

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    Mr. Peter Stoffer: Thank you for your comments.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mrs. Wayne.

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    Mrs. Elsie Wayne: Have you looked at exactly what amount should be put back into the Department of Veterans Affairs to bring our health care system up for our veterans to where it should be?

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: Have I looked at the amount?

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    Mrs. Elsie Wayne: Yes.

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    Mr. Clifford Chadderton: Interestingly enough, it's not a matter of money. The money is there. It's the matter of a bed. That's what this committee has to look at: where are the beds coming from? The province has the beds and they'll make them available, but on the basis of a contract, as we've said, with DVA paying another $270.

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    Mrs. Elsie Wayne: When you talk about beds, l see we have 10 at our regional hospital that are set aside for veterans, and 10 at Saint Joseph's Hospital are set aside for veterans, because our Ridgewood Veterans Hospital isn't big enough and can't accommodate them all. Is it not better to have another expansion? I'll just take our Ridgewood Hospital, where the one unit we just opened was all for Alzheimer's; you had to be an Alzheimer's veteran in order to go in it. Every bed was filled within a matter of weeks. My understanding is that we have almost 100 veterans in need of beds. So wouldn't it be better for us to push for expansion on those veterans hospitals, rather than trying to get them into the private hospitals, one little bed here and one little bed there? It's a different quality of life for them, because they can communicate with other veterans, and there are other programs for them as well while they're there. It's different when they're in their veterans hospital from being in just the provincial hospitals.

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: I think I can answer that very quickly. I do not think the federal government is going to put out enough money to build new institutions. Second, I would go on record as saying that if you look at the waiting list for the Perley-Rideau, where the department put in $50 million, or the waiting list for Broadmead, which is in Victoria, a beautiful institution where the federal government put in x million dollars, you see the money was no answer. I don't think the federal government is going to put any more money into bricks and mortar. I think they're going to have to go out and find where there are beds in these community hospitals and make private arrangements to get the veterans in.

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    Mrs. Elsie Wayne: Thank you.

    I apologize, Madam Chair, I have to go to a press conference.

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mrs. Wayne.

    Actually, I have a couple of questions, if I have permission from the committee. Thank you.

    I really thought your presentation and your comments on standard of care were realistic. However, when you look at places like Perley, we have additional funding for veterans. You look at Sunnybrook, and changes have occurred there. Read documents prepared by people such as Dr. Willie Malloy talking about doing better things with less money, making the money we have, by changing the way we do it, go further.

    What I'm asking about is the possibility of centres of excellence. The federal government has lots of property out there. We know many patients who are suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia don't need a full-time hospital setting. If we don't need operating rooms, you could have doctor's offices instead at these. Perhaps we could take some of the services that are being offered to veterans and put them into centres of excellence, and at the same time, begin adding to the beds available and doing things differently, to serve two purposes. First, if we're convinced of it, these new programs can work better to set a standard for the governments to follow. Second, we can have better accountability on the way our money is being spent.

À  +-(1040)  

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: The standard of care is a provincial government responsibility. That's why we fought so hard to keep Ste Anne's Hospital, so that we would have a standard of reference to say, that's what we need. But when you come down to these organizations--and I'm looking at the Cariboo Memorial Veterans Pavilion, I'm looking at the Western Newfoundland Veterans Pavilion--for Veterans Affairs to walk in and say, you have to increase your standard of care in these smaller institutions, Madam Chair, I think it's impractical. That's why we are spending a lot of time talking about the standard of care in institutions over which Veterans Affairs has no authority at all, but are we not running into provincial regulations and provincial legislation that is supposed to provide accreditation for hospitals or provide standards in nursing care homes and that type of thing? It's one thing to say we should have a standard of care where, as Mrs. Wayne says, a veteran doesn't fall down and has to be helped into bed. It is the responsibility of the New Brunswick government to make sure that isn't happening. What I'm saying is, in the final analysis, it's down to one word, bed. That's what he needs.

    When you're talking about tearing down institutions, if you go to Victoria, ask them what happened to the old Jubilee Hospital. They ripped it down and built Broadmead. The old Jubilee Hospital was a great place. The veterans could go and play cards, they could watch television, they could do all sorts of things. Now they can't get into Broadmead. Consequently, DVA says, our answer is to put you under one of our programs for VIP-like services, and the veteran says, if that's what it is, fine. The veteran's wife says, just a minute: am I, at 80 years of age, supposed to give my husband a back to do all the things he would get in an institution? These are stop-gap solutions that Veterans Affairs are coming up with.

    To come right back to your point, this committee has to produce a report on health care. I cannot see any arguments against saying the department should go out and renegotiate contracts with the provinces for the number of beds where veterans would be given priority access. The provinces have district offices, 36 of them. Once the veteran goes in, you have counsellors who can go into the hospitals and say, this veteran is not being properly looked after, and he can report to the manager of the hospital. But I just think to say to provinces, we, as a federal government department, are going to tell you how to run your hospital, isn't going to work.

À  +-(1045)  

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    The Chair: I've misstated my point. I'm talking about the federal government taking existing properties and making them into centres where we could supply beds within a non-medical, non-hospital setting to accommodate veterans who don't need a hospital setting, but need a full-time specialty setting to deal with dementia and other problems.

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: I think that's an excellent idea. I think you already have that in existence at Ste Anne's Hospital in Quebec, and possibly in the Maritimes. Probably, you could go to Deer Lodge in Winnipeg, where they have a new institution, and say, let's expand this into centre of excellence, so people will know what we're talking about. That's fine. The federal government put a lot of money into Deer Lodge. Then you could take, say, the George Derby or one of the hospitals in Vancouver, and say, we have three centres of excellence where we are developing ways and means of looking after those who have dementia, who have amputation, who have the problems arising from amputation, etc. That's probably a very good idea.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Wood.

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    Mr. Bob Wood: With the VIP, Cliff, I believe the cap is $20,000 before you qualify. Is that how it works? What are the numbers on that?

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: I'll turn that over to Faye Lavell, if I could. Do you have the figures at your fingertips?

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    Ms. Faye Lavell (Director, National Service Bureau, National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada): With the WVCA recipients, if they are in a higher bracket, but their health care needs reduce the income below that, they are eligible for VIP as well.

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    Mr. Bob Wood: There's still some thought of increasing the threshold, so that more people would qualify for that service. Do you have any thoughts on that?

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: I don't think it's necessary. With a veteran who came back from overseas service, got himself a pretty good job, his wife is dead, he sold his home, now he needs a bed, money is not a problem. He can go into the DVA bed. He has to pay another $24 a day from his own pocket, but DVA is the avenue through which he gets the bed. On the other hand, if he goes to the intake officer of the province of Manitoba, for example, he might be 287 on the list, and he has no status. You've got to give the veteran the status. How do you give the veteran the status? By dangling $270 a day in front of the hospital manager--I'm sorry to be so blunt about it--

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    Mr. Bob Wood: I don't mind bluntness. That's what we're after.

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: My problem is that this solution we've been talking about is so simple. Take your DVA people, send them out on the road, let them talk to the provincial officials, and see if this is going to work. Instead of that, they spend hours and hours coming up with fancy things like waiting list management. This is the kind of veteran who might go to Dave Brown at the Ottawa Citizen and tell his story, and it's going to get in the paper. So VAC says, no, no, don't do that, we will find you a bed somewhere out in Carleton Place; we will pay the first $270 a day on that bed, and you will have to pay the other $24. That, in fact, is the way this waiting list management has been handled.

    I'm not critical--I want to say it again, Madam Chair--of the bureaucrats at DVA. I think somebody has told them to find some way to do this without going in and seeing the provinces and renegotiating these contracts. I sincerely believe that.

À  +-(1050)  

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    Mr. Bob Wood: You've been around a heck of a long time, and as you commented before, you have appeared before a heck of a lot of committees. Do you think it's time all that stuff was revisited and changed? When was the last time that criterion was changed? When was the last time somebody sat down, went over it, and changed it? Do you remember that?

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: Yes. I was the executive director of the Woods commission. That was in 1963 to 1965. We took 35 submissions from veterans' organizations. We examined Veterans Affairs officials. It was a commission headed by a judge of the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, who has now passed on. That was an independent look at the whole thing.

    I don't really think that's necessary now. You have this committee, you have your--perish the thought--Senate subcommittee. Somebody told me the Senate and this House are separate. That's fine, but they have a Senate subcommittee, and you're all looking at the same thing. If you call the officials of Veterans Affairs in front of you, you're going to get.... As I said the other day to my wife when I phoned her and she asked how it went, you would think the officials of DVA invented the overhead projector. They put these projections down and they talk and talk about this management, blah, blah. At the end of the day I turned around and said to the senior officials, what is wrong with going and rewriting contracts with the provinces? Provinces are saying that for $270 a day they would put a veteran in the bed on a priority access basis. I just have to say it's that simple.

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    Mr. Bob Wood: You're saying somebody from Veterans Affairs should take the initiative and do it.

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: I think the initiative really has to come from this committee. Tell them, you're playing with words here. If you tell some veteran, look, we're going to put you on the waiting list management project, that isn't going to cut it. The veteran is going to say, just a minute.

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    The Chair: The $270, is that just a bribe, or is this money to be spent on the veteran's care?

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: I'm sorry, it's $170. My mistake.

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    The Chair: Okay, $170.

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    Mr. Clifford Chadderton: What happens is that if they go into a community hospital, it's priority access and they put the veteran in, Veterans Affairs will pay that hospital an additional $170 a day.

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    The Chair: I understand the bribe aspect. What do they do with the $170, whatever they want?

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: That's true. It just goes into the pot.

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    The Chair: Okay.

    Mr. Stoffer.

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    Mr. Peter Stoffer: Thank you, Madam Chair.

    I have two quick questions for you. To play the devil's advocate for a second, I think the difficulty the provinces may have--I can't speak for them--is that they could get a lot of political pressure from non-veteran seniors who say, I've been waiting just as long as anyone else, and now you're going to bump me because someone has access to more funds than I do. I can see that being a concern for some provinces. I just throw that out. I agree with the content of your proposal, and I think it merits further discussion.

    As you know, the ombudsman did a report on post-traumatic stress syndrome about the concerns of our new veterans who are coming through in the current personnel. Do you feel enough is being done? What can be done to address the needs of post-traumatic stress syndrome with veterans now and current military personnel who will become veterans in the future?

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: My answer to that is quite simple. When the new minister took over, my understanding is that he received a memorandum from the deputy minister in which they said, we have to look after the traditional veterans, but we have to put a priority on what we're going to do for the peacekeepers--though they don't like to be called that any more. Mr. Forbes has just spent three days, and I spent part of the time, at the Canadian Forces Advisory Committee, where they are developing tremendous programs. I had to play the role of devil's advocate, sir, and say, your plans are wonderful, do you have the money? I think the money is going to come from the Department of National Defence.

    The answer to your question, sir, is that we are very pleased about what is being done for the post-war peacetime veteran. I think it's wonderful. But we still have this big problem of, as the Auditor General said, possibly 50,000 veterans already out there. As a matter of fact, I told the deputy minister the other day, if you don't want to do it, we'll do it. We'll pay for a survey. We'll put an ad in the paper that'll say any World War II veteran who may require a bed should telephone 1-800-so-and-so, and Charlottetown can start taking down the list. They're going to get an awful surprise, because I know the veterans. I served with them, I'm one of them, and a lot of them are in good shape, as I am, but two years from now I might need a bed, and there won't be one available.

À  -(1055)  

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    Mr. Peter Stoffer: I'm done, Madam Chair, thank you.

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    The Chair: There are many other issues we haven't touched, such as care for the homeless. We're fortunate that we had a mild winter, because one of these days a war veteran is going to die on the streets. I would like us to be proactive on those issues as well, instead of reactive, scrambling around to cover our bottoms when it happens.

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: Care of the homeless in the United States is exactly the same as looking for a long-term care bed. I know that from when I went to a conference in Boston in December. I thought homeless veterans were a bunch of guys living outside in old mailbags. No. They have the same problem in the States, they just have a different terminology: they say the homeless veteran. The homeless veteran is the same here. If you had a bed for him, he would not be homeless.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    It was very informative, and I wish we had more time. Perhaps we'll have to do this informally as well. I assume you would be available to those of us who have questions.

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    Mr. H. Clifford Chadderton: At any time, Madam Chair, we're available.

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    The Chair: Thank you. We appreciate your participation, and we're very privileged to be able to work with you. We hope we produce something here that you'll be happy with.

    Meeting adjourned.