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View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise this evening to tell the House just how much our government values the important contributions that veterans have made to Canada and the world. Their well-being and their families' well-being is something we have supported and will continue to support as we move forward. We continue working hard to restore critical access to services and support for veterans and their families resulting from the Conservative cuts to services, the closure of Veterans Affairs offices across the country and the firing of nearly 1,000 employees from Veterans Affairs Canada.
Over the past four years, we have invested more than $10 billion in enhanced support and services for veterans and their families. This includes enhanced physical and mental health services, research into new treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder and related mental health issues, services for families, support for the transition to life after service, the veterans emergency fund, a new education and training benefit, and much more.
One of the first things we did was reopen the regional Veterans Affairs Canada offices across the country that had been shuttered by the previous government. We opened a new office in Surrey, British Columbia.
Last year, we introduced pension for life for ill and injured veterans, improving their access to care and the choices available to them. Perhaps most importantly, we listened to veterans. The minister, our caucus colleagues and I regularly engage with veterans face to face from coast to coast to coast. We hear them. One of the biggest hurdles they face is that they do not know what benefits they may be eligible for. They cannot apply for benefits that they do not know about.
We have responded. Veterans Affairs takes the initiative to inform veterans and releasing members about the services and benefits they are eligible to receive. We improved our website to make it easier for veterans to apply for benefits.
We have also streamlined how we make decisions regarding social benefits so that less complicated cases take less time. This allows for more time to examine and consider more complex cases. We triage disability claims and expedite treatment for people at risk. These changes are making a real difference, since veterans are now better informed and are using the benefits and services they have earned. Disability claims have increased by more than 60% since 2015. First applications have increased by more than 90%, and 97% of first applications for post-traumatic stress disorder were approved in the last fiscal year.
Members and veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces have earned their benefits and the right to be treated with care, compassion and respect. Our government is providing those benefits and services that they have earned. We have taken important strides in improving their health and well-being and we will continue to do so.
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