Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, which includes the largest army base in Canada, I am proud to participate in today's adjournment debate. Over 5,000 soldiers at Base Petawawa and their families know I have their backs when it comes to keeping the government accountable. We owe it to our soldiers to keep them safe in whatever we ask them to do to perform in the service of our country. That obligation continues when the service is completed.
Earlier this year, I asked the Minister of National Defence why his party refused to implement the recommendation made by the Canadian Forces ombudsman to ensure that before a serving member of the Canadian Armed Forces was medically released from the military all benefits were in place. I am pleased to confirm for the benefit of the military families watching this adjournment debate my strong support for this recommendation by the military ombudsman. The record at committee shows the numerous times I have brought this issue forward only to be stonewalled by the Liberal majority.
It was with some scepticism that I noted the change of position by the government to include a line in the announced defence policy that included the word “ensure” that benefits would be in place before a soldier was released. On a number of occasions, I brought to the attention of the House the case of now retired Warrant Officer Roger Perreault. The time I first brought attention to this case, 27-year veteran retired Warrant Officer Perreault was still a serving member of the Canadian Armed Forces. Warrant Officer Perreault was seeking justice that was being denied him in his application to receive the critical injury benefit.
He was injured in 2006 in a blast from an improvised explosive device, while serving in Afghanistan. He has had three back surgeries, two hip replacements, and other complications. That case has still not been resolved.
I ask Canadians who are following this debate to question if it was just a coincidence. Roger Perreault was medically released two days before the Minister of National Defence announced, with great hoopla, the government would "ensure that all benefits would be in place before a member transitions to post-military life." Warrant Officer Roger Perreault was discharged from the Canadian Armed Forces with nothing in place, no pension, no medical benefit, no critical injury benefit, nothing.
The Liberal Party had known for over a year that this soldier was being medically released and still he was released with nothing in place. What is happening today? Roger has heard nothing about the critical injury benefit, except that his case may be heard in December. The pension that soldier paid into for almost 27 years and was entitled to receive, finally kicked in after months of complaining by his local member of Parliament. Roger is thankful for his local Conservative member of Parliament, for he is certain he would still be waiting for his pension had I not intervened.
The permanent impairment allowance, career impact allowance, or whatever it is being called this week, as the government keeps changing names of allowances to pretend it is providing a new benefit when in fact it has just renamed an existing benefit, has yet to show up. Ironically, if Roger wanted to smoke pot to alleviate his pain and suffering, he could get a pot licence from the Liberal government right way.
I hope it was this sorry record of treatment that led to the dishonourable discharge for the minister of Veterans Affairs from that portfolio in the last cabinet shuffle.
Now retired Warrant Officer Roger Perreault and thousands of military families just like his, face a new crisis. Thanks to the bad spending by the government and the need to raise taxes today to pay for the bad debt tomorrow, the futures of military spouses are now in peril. For many military families posted on a regular basis, the military spouse, who kept the home fires burning, would not have had the opportunity to accumulate a work pension. The guaranteed income supplement provides an additional monthly non-taxable benefit to the old age security pension recipients who have no other source of income.
When the Conservatives were the Government of Canada, in cases where couples that were previously not eligible for the guaranteed income supplement based on their total family income and who were involuntarily separated, for example, one spouse being admitted to a long-term care facility, the spouse remaining—