Hansard
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Add search criteria
Results: 1 - 15 of 68
View Seamus O'Regan Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to ending the ongoing national tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. We thank the commission for its work in identifying systemic causes of violence against indigenous women and girls and for its substantive recommendations on a path forward.
Our job now is to develop a national action plan to implement the recommendations, in partnership with first nations, Inuit and Métis governments and organizations, survivors and families. We must all work together to end this ongoing national tragedy, and Canadians should expect no less.
View Seamus O'Regan Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, we all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the survivors and family members who shared their painful memories and stories with the commission, often putting their own health at risk in order to do so.
In the coming weeks, we will be announcing our initial response to the final report as well as a process and further steps to formally develop a national action plan. This plan will build on the efforts that our government is already taking to address this ongoing national tragedy, including reforms to child and family services that recognizes the inherent rights of indigenous peoples, and investments in women's shelters, housing, education and safety on the Highway of Tears.
View Seamus O'Regan Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, our detailed response to the commission's interim report involves taking immediate action to keep indigenous women safe through investments in women's shelters, housing, education, child welfare reforms and safety on the Highway of Tears.
View Yvonne Jones Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Yvonne Jones Profile
2018-10-04 14:15 [p.22228]
Mr. Speaker, today, here on Parliament Hill and all across the country, vigils are being held in memory of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. I invite all Canadians to observe a moment of silence today on the occasion of Sisters in Spirit vigils, which have been taking place since 2006. A vigil can take many forms, from a walk to a rally to a shared meal; it is a moment to reflect and a moment to remember. Let us honour our Sisters in Spirit by participating in a vigil today. Let us demonstrate our shared commitment to end the national tragedy of violence experienced by indigenous girls and women in Canada.
As Sisters in Spirit Vigil founder, Kukdooka Terri Brown, says, “Grandmother, lighten our path in the dark. Creator, keep our sisters safe from harm."
Today, we remember all of them and work toward a safer country.
View Ken McDonald Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Ken McDonald Profile
2018-10-02 10:44 [p.22081]
Madam Speaker, I have a small, simple question for the member opposite, who at one time sat on this side of the House, as he mentioned.
Why did the same member not speak up in 2014 when this person, this inmate, was moved from maximum security to a medium-security facility? A medium security facility is what she is in right now. Why did he not speak up then, as a member of the governing party?
View Ken McDonald Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Ken McDonald Profile
2018-10-02 11:06 [p.22084]
Madam Speaker, I know my colleague highlighted the fact of it being the rule of law and that we really do not want politicians getting involved in judicial matters. Could she expand on that a little before we end the debate? I was listening intently to her speech, but I was not reading the newspaper while I did it.
View Ken McDonald Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Ken McDonald Profile
2018-10-02 12:57 [p.22098]
Mr. Speaker, we can all agree that a lot of has been said, and we understand the reason it has been said. In an answer just now, the member said that a healing lodge was not a medium-security facility by its nature. Is he now advocating as well that we change the healing lodge designation from medium to minimum security and that anyone who is there considered medium now be put back into the regular so-called gates, razor wire, chains, whatever? Is that what he is advocating for as well when it comes to the healing lodges?
Healing lodges were supported by the former government and the program was expanded by the former government. It supported the healing lodge being designated a medium-security facility.
View Seamus O'Regan Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, our hearts go out to the family of Constable Campbell.
As I said, I asked the department to review the decision and the findings. I directed them to, first of all, ensure that the services received by a family member of a veteran are related to the veteran's service, and where they are not, that the case be reviewed by a senior official, and as well, to address its policy in relation to providing treatment to family members under extenuating circumstances, such as conviction for a serious crime.
View Seamus O'Regan Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, our hearts go out to the family of Constable Campbell, as I said. For privacy reasons, we cannot comment on the specifics of this case.
Let me say this. Unlike the Harper Conservatives, we understand that when a veteran serves, the family serves with him. We take mental health seriously. That is why we opened a new centre of excellence on PTSD and mental illness. We launched a joint suicide prevention strategy.
I will say once again that if veterans are in need of mental health supports, we will give them the resources they need when they need them.
View Seamus O'Regan Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, our hearts do indeed go out to the family of Constable Campbell. For privacy reasons, we cannot comment on the specifics of this case, but I will say that unlike the Harper Conservatives, we understand that when a veteran serves, his family serves with him. We take mental health seriously. That is why we reopened nine offices across the country, which had been shuttered, closed, by the previous government.
Once again, if veterans are in need of mental health supports, we will give them the resources they need when they need them.
View Seamus O'Regan Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, ensuring that veterans and their families know about the benefits and programs they deserve and are entitled to is essential to my job as Minister of Veterans Affairs. That is why it is so important to explain what is involved. That is why I have hosted over 40 veterans town halls across the country. It is why we are working so hard to explain the pension for life as clearly as we can.
More effective programming will help veterans transition to civilian life with dignity. More effective benefits will help in supporting families, and more effective supports will help get ill and injured veterans well again.
View Seamus O'Regan Profile
Lib. (NL)
Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to rise in the House today to speak to this motion and our recent efforts to ensure veterans and their families receive the respect, support, care and economic opportunities they deserve as they transition to a post-military life.
While much has been said in the past few days, the fact remains that our government has placed the highest priority on making sure veterans and their families have the support and services they need, when they need them.
Our government also places that same priority on the privacy of Canada's veterans' personal information, which prevents us from discussing specific cases. When it comes to Canada's veterans and their families, we are not in the business of political opportunism. We are interested in getting veterans well again.
We can and should, however, look at everything our government has done in the last three years to improve benefits and services, not only for our nation's veterans but also for their families. We know that when a man or woman serves in the Canadian Armed Forces, their whole family serves with them.
Veterans Affairs Canada is a different department today than it was three years ago. It is driven by a new vision, with a focus on the well-being and successful transition of our Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP members, veterans and families.
It is this vision that saw us reopen the nine Veterans Affairs offices that were closed by the previous Conservative government, open a new one in Surrey and increase outreach into the north. It is this vision that saw us staff up and hire more than 470 employees after years of cuts. It is this vision that saw us bring benefits in line with where they should have been years ago.
Year over year, our government has committed more money to veterans programs and benefits, ensuring more and better support for veterans and their families, based on feedback directly from them. Their feedback has led to investments of $10 billion since 2016. Ten billion is a big number, a bigger number than most of us can really picture. I will explain in a little more depth how that number translates into the programs, services and benefits that our veterans now have access to every day.
First, I want to address an issue that has recently been brought up, which is lapsed funding. Over the past three years, Veterans Affairs Canada has seen a significant increase in demand for its programs and services, and that is a good thing. It means veterans are coming forward and getting the help they need. It means they are beginning to trust their government again. I am sure that is not easy to do after 10 years of distrust in the previous government.
In order to respond to this increased demand, the department has to request additional funds in the middle of the year. As many of my colleagues in the House are aware, these are the supplements. The department goes and asks Treasury Board for more money, because we have more veterans who want more of the programs and services they are entitled to, indeed, that they deserve.
Our services are demand-driven, so whether it is 10 or 10,000 veterans coming forward, they will receive those services. Instead of going back every day when we see another veteran come forward, the department estimates how many people will access benefits and how much money is needed. It is not an exact science, though.
This process guarantees that whether a veteran comes forward this year, next year or the year after that, we will always have resources available for veterans and their families to access programs and services.
View Seamus O'Regan Profile
Lib. (NL)
Madam Speaker, as I was saying, this process does not guarantee that whether a veteran comes forward this year or the next or the year after that, we will always have resources available for veterans and their families to access programs and services. Lapsed funding does not result in anyone receiving less than they should.
Year over year, we have seen more financial compensation go to veterans and their families than in years previous, certainly in the previous 10 years. We have seen more veterans avail themselves of programs and services, and we have definitely seen more support being given to veterans than what the Conservatives failed to do in a decade.
I bring up the previous government because we know that they too had lapsed funding. This is not a new accounting method. It is how departments budget, but when we look at the Conservatives' record, when we look at the cuts in their Veterans Affairs departmental budgets, the cuts of 1,000 staff at Veterans Affairs and the closure of Veterans Affairs offices, it is a very different picture, one that veterans and Canadians see through.
I would like to dig in a little more on these benefits. Since January, I have held 41 town halls and round tables to meet with and hear from veterans, their families and stakeholders, and one thing I heard repeatedly was that veterans and their families needed better support and that change was needed. While there has been a lot of change at Veterans Affairs, my commitment to veterans and their well-being has remained the same. I am committed to ensuring that veterans' overall well-being is what drives everything we do. We want to make sure that veterans have purpose and are financially secure, safely housed, in good physical and mental health, resilient in the face of change, well integrated in the community, proud of their legacy and protected from political expediency.
When we look at these factors, we can all agree that without financial security, it is hard to focus on anything. That is why last December, we announced our plan to bring back a pension for life for ill and injured veterans. With that return of a monthly pension, the pension for life recognizes and compensates veterans for disabilities resulting from a service-related illness or injury with a combination of benefits that provide recognition, income support and stability.
Pain and suffering compensation is one of the main benefits. It is a monthly, tax-free payment for life that recognizes veterans' service-related pain and suffering.
This compensation is paid to members and veterans with a disability resulting from a service-related injury or illness.
Veterans and members can choose to receive either monthly payments or a lump sum, giving them the flexibility to choose what works for them and their families.
As well, additional support will be available for those with severe and permanent impairments causing a barrier to re-establishment and post-service life through the additional pain and suffering compensation. This will be provided as a monthly, tax-free benefit for life.
On top of that, the income-replacement benefit is a monthly program that will replace six current benefits and provide income support for those facing barriers to re-establishment. Additionally, veterans using this benefit will be able to earn up to $20,000 per year before any reduction to their IRB payment, and that benefit is 90% of their pre-release salary, which keeps up with inflation and includes a salary increase every year for 20 years to match their expected career progression.
Set to come into force on April 1, 2019, the new pension for life combines what veterans have asked for with the most up-to-date research and understanding of a veteran's well-being, but more importantly, the pension for life will become an integral part of that comprehensive approach to veterans' well-being, reinforcing all the programs and services available at VAC, of which mental health is a priority.
Another issue surrounding mental health we have talked about recently in this House is psychiatric service dogs. Some veterans have made it clear that service dogs could be beneficial for them if they are suffering with conditions like PTSD. That is why, earlier this year, we expanded the medical expense tax credit to recognize the costs for these service animals.
The department also invested in a pilot study to explore the use of service dogs as a safe and effective support for veterans with PTSD. As was reported last week, this study was recently completed, the department is reviewing its results and the final report will help to inform policy decisions related to service dogs.
We know that military service creates unique stressors for serving members and their families, both during and after service. Veterans Affairs Canada has concrete measures in place to address mental health, including the joint suicide prevention strategy. Announced last fall, the Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs committed to a coordinated collaborative approach and identified over 160 initiatives dedicated to saving the lives of veterans and Canadian Armed Forces members. One suicide is too many, and with the two departments working together, we will be better able to help military service members and veterans reduce the risk, build resilience and prevent suicide.
Because families play an important role in a veteran's life, we recognize that they are there from day one. From base to base, from day to day, they bear intimate witness to the mental health struggles that some veterans deal with. That is why sometimes it could be determined by Veterans Affairs staff and medical professionals that access for a veteran's family members to counselling and other services would assist him or her better in achieving rehabilitation. Veterans Affairs staff consult and act on the recommendations of mental health professionals from across the country. The department has a nationwide network now of over 4,000 mental health professional who deliver services to veterans and RCMP and Canadian Forces members who have post-traumatic stress disorder and other operational stress injuries. Veterans and family members can also find mental health information, support and resources at the 11 operational stress injury clinics and eight satellite clinics across the country plus use of telehealth services, for those living in remote areas.
It is fundamental that we continue to learn and share best practices. Our government recently launched a centre of excellence on PTSD and related mental health conditions that will allow us to do just that. Announced in May with the Royal Ottawa Hospital, this centre will create and share knowledge on veterans mental health treatments that work and place that information directly in the hands of mental health professionals and others working with veterans on a daily basis.
While mental health is a critical factor in a veteran's overall well-being, the department's vision aims to address all aspects of wellness. That is what led to the new and enhanced benefits that rolled out on April 1 of this year. Addressing families and well-being, financial security and education and training, all were designed with a veteran's well-being in mind. One of those new initiatives is the veterans emergency fund. Veterans or family members who may find themselves in an emergency situation can now apply for those funds 24/7, because as we know, emergencies do not only happen nine to five, Monday to Friday. Another is the caregiver recognition benefit, which provides a veteran's caregiver with $1,000 a month, tax free, recognizing the invaluable role caregivers play in caring for veterans.
Two other new programs that launched this year and are proving to be very successful are the education and training benefit and the career transition service. So far, more than 1,400 veterans have been approved for funding to further their education, and more than 900 Canadian Forces members and veterans have been approved for career transition services, and it has only been five months.
These are just a few of the real differences we are making in the lives of our country's veterans.
Whether having served in the Second World War, the Korean War, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Cyprus or any other mission Canada has supported, every veteran has his or her own story based on his or her service, combat experience or injury.
Veterans' needs and the needs of their families and caregivers have evolved. They will continue to evolve, and we will evolve to meet them. Our government will continue to ensure that we are meeting their needs, enhancing their well-being, and helping them to successfully re-establish their lives after service.
Before I conclude, I would like to directly address the motion that has brought us here. As I have said previously in the House, I have instructed my department to look into this particular case and how this decision was made. I have reviewed the department's findings on this issue, and I am directing it to first, ensure that the services being received by a family member of a veteran are related to the veteran's service-related illness or injury, and where they are not, that the case be reviewed by a senior official before a decision is rendered. Second, I have requested that the department address its policy in providing treatment to family members who have extenuating circumstances, such as a conviction for a serious crime.
From now on, in cases with extenuating circumstances, the decision to extend treatment to a non-veteran family member must be made by an area director in consultation with our departmental health professionals.
View Seamus O'Regan Profile
Lib. (NL)
Far from it, Madam Speaker. I will stand by that veteran. I will stand by that veteran's right to privacy. This is not a case of protecting a murderer. This is a case of protecting a veteran.
The reason I took the time and trouble to spell out what this government has been doing over the past three years is that with each and every dollar of that $10 billion, we are protecting the lives of veterans and their families, even when it is unpopular to do so.
This is the most extenuating of circumstances. I have stood in the House on several occasions and said I was outraged. Everyone in the House has a right to be outraged. Every Canadian who feels outraged should be, but I will defend the veteran at the centre of this case. I will defend his privacy. I will not play fast and loose with the privacy of veterans, as that side of the House has done, as that side of the House has apologized for in the past. I will stand with veterans with every dollar we have passed in the House.
I invite members on all sides of the House to look at every member who was in the previous government during 10 years and ask where they were when we saw cut after cut to benefits, to services, to staff and to the department. Ask them where they were.
View Seamus O'Regan Profile
Lib. (NL)
Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to talk about the ombudsman's report.
The ombudsman's report was based on data that led up to, but did not include, our very first initiatives as a government, believe it or not. It went right up to April 2016. It was in that budget that we had our first measures to deal with the backlog and our first new benefits and services came into force. In fact, it was outdated data. However, I take the member's point, and I in no way want to stand here and pat ourselves on the back. We have a lot of work to do.
However, so much damage was done in 10 years, it is ironic for people on this side of the House. I liken it to coming home and finding that one's house has been vandalized, and when one starts to clean up the mess, the vandals themselves come over to say that it is not being cleaned up fast enough. It is a little rich, but we are hard at it.
Results: 1 - 15 of 68 | Page: 1 of 5

1
2
3
4
5
>
>|
Export As: XML CSV RSS

For more data options, please see Open Data