Interventions in Committee
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Faith McIntyre
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Faith McIntyre
2017-05-18 12:04
Thank you very much.
Mr. Chair and honourable members, it's certainly a privilege to be able to address you today. I have some very brief remarks just to situate the context of the changes that are being put forward for division 12 of the budget implementation act. I will be brief because I know there are some time constraints today.
We are here to discuss the budget implementation act that includes three of the eight budget 2017 initiatives that were provided for Veterans Affairs Canada. They include the veterans education and training benefit; a redesigned career transition services program; and the new caregiver recognition benefit; as well as a change in the name of the act and enhancements to simplify administration, all of which will come into place as of April 1, 2018 and total $624 million of investment over five years.
To begin, we are proposing to change the name of the act from the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Act to the Veterans Well-being Act. This change highlights the important link to our ultimate goal, which is the well-being of veterans.
As well, the family caregiver relief benefit will be replaced with the caregiver recognition benefit, a monthly payment of $1,000 tax free and indexed annually that will go directly to the caregiver. It will be provided in recognition of the valuable role that caregivers play in supporting seriously disabled veterans.
In addition to the supports for families and caregivers, we are doing more for veterans transitioning to their post-military life. We are introducing the veterans education and training benefit. It will cover up to $40,000 in tuition and other costs for veterans who have served at least six years and up to $80,000 for veterans who have served at least 12 years. Of this, $5,000 can be used towards professional and personal development courses such as pursuing a real estate licence.
We're also redesigning our career transition services so that more people can use them, including serving members of the armed forces, and the survivors, spouses and common-law partners of veterans.
Labour market information, career counselling and job search assistance services will be provided based on needs. The service providers will have access to job search assistance and counselling in order to work with veterans and employers to ensure success. The veterans will be guided by coaches who understand military life and culture.
We are also adding ways to help streamline program delivery. The act includes a more simplified application waiver that will enable the department to waive application for benefits and to make decisions if the department already has the necessary information on file. This change is being added to the general provisions, so it will apply to all programs.
In closing, the measures included in budget 2017 and the budget implementation act will go a long way to support veterans and their families as they transition out of the military and settle into civilian life. However, the job is not yet complete. There are additional measures that are currently being pursued that will be announced in the coming months. An example is the lifelong pension. The department is committed to continue the research and work to understand the needs of veterans and their families.
I thank you for the opportunity to speak briefly to you today in my remarks, and I am certainly available now to take your questions.
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