OTTAWA - The Conservative government, under fire for its treatment of injured veterans, will be handed a prescription to fix the problems Tuesday when a parliamentary committee presents its recommendations to ensure that Canada’s wounded soldiers are looked after.
“It won’t fix every problem out there but it will go a long way,” NDP MP Peter Stoffer (Sackville-Eastern Shore) said Monday.
“The government has an opportunity right now to do the right thing.”
The report is expected to address problems identified by the Royal Canadian Legion as well as drawing heavily on past recommendations from the veterans ombudsman.
The proposed changes are aimed at improving the Veterans Charter, a package of benefits aimed at helping modern-day veterans. Though introduced in 2006 and revised in 2011, “significant deficiencies” remain, according to the legion.
There have been complaints that it fails to fairly compensate veterans for their wounds or ensure their financial security for life after the military.
The legion has been seeking an increase to disability awards, saying the payments have not kept pace with civilian awards for pain and suffering due to injuries.
And it wants benefits increased for reservists, who served alongside regular force troops in Afghanistan but often received less compensation for their injuries because of their status.
Injured soldiers leaving the military can receive 75 per cent of their salary, capped at $42,426. The legion wants it raised to 100 per cent of the pre-release salary, paid for life.
Liberal MP Frank Valeriote (Guelph) said the committee tried to incorporate as much of the testimony it heard from veterans groups and associations into the recommendations it will unveil Tuesday morning.
“We’re hoping to address the requests of various, some in a very specific way, some in a broader way,” he said.
He says the recommendations are affordable and will make the programs “accessible, sufficient and adequate.”
“We’re doing it in such a way that in my opinion, it’s going to be very difficult for this government to resist or ignore,” Valeriote said.