Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to participate in the adjournment debate, or what is known in parliamentary jargon as the late show, for the first time. I will learn how this works in the next few minutes.
I am also pleased to see that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, the hon. member for Kanata—Carleton, is here. I hope that she will be able to give me some answers.
I am here to share some concerns that have been expressed by Canadians in general, not just veterans. The House will understand why. Recently, the minister introduced new financial benefits for veterans under Bill C-12, which unfortunately no longer exists because those measures have now been inserted into omnibus Bill C-15.
These amendments include increasing the disability award, expanding access to the higher grades of the permanent impairment allowance, and increasing the earnings loss benefit. Veterans tell me that these improved benefits are worthwhile, but that the government could have made a better decision. For example, veterans would have liked the government to invest more in mental health clinics, provide more assistance for families, such as military spouses, and improve help for the transition from military to civilian life.
This evening, I will talk about the fact that the disability award was increased and that the increase is retroactive to 2006. We are talking about approximately $3.7 billion that will be spent on these retroactive payments. This expenditure is highly questionable.
I am going to tell a story that explains why I think that we need to ask questions in that regard. One of my constituents came to see me. She earns about $100,000 a year. She was a soldier and she has hearing problems. Although she will not do so, if she were to apply for a disability award from the Department of Veterans Affairs, she would be eligible to receive a cheque for between $5,000 and $10,000. I think that everyone here will agree that this person, who earns $100,000 a year, does not need that money and that her loss of hearing does not prevent her from working.
Imagine how many cases like that there are in Canada and how many people, in the coming months, without thinking of their fellow soldiers, will apply for disability awards for physical injuries that do not necessarily prevent them from working. Under the law, they are eligible for that money and it is good that the government is trying to help them. However, when it comes to veterans, there are urgent needs in many other areas, including those I talked about earlier.
My question for my colleague from Kanata—Carleton is very simple. According to her estimates, how much money will be paid out retroactively to 2006 for hearing-related injuries?