Sarnia-Lambton’s Member of Parliament says changes made by the federal government to address needs of Canadian Veterans should prove to make a difference to residents who have served in the Canadian military.
New legislation in the form of a Support for Veterans and their Families Act includes a $70,000 tax-free award to support the most severely injured and ill Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members and veterans.
Introduced on March 30 by Erin O’Toole, minister of Veterans Affairs, the proposed legislation is said to address the immediate impacts of the most severe and traumatic service-related injuries or diseases sustained by CAF members and Veterans. It is intended to work alongside the existing benefits and supports delivered by Veterans Affairs Canada for which injured Veterans are eligible. It is separate from disability award payments.
Along with the Critical Injury Benefit, other important initiatives in this new legislation called for by Veterans themselves, include:
- the Retirement Income Security Benefit for moderately to severely disabled Veterans and their survivors, beginning at age 65;
- the Family Caregiver Relief Benefit for eligible Veterans requiring ongoing informal care—a tax-free grant of $7,238 annually;
- the addition of a purpose statement to the New Veterans Charter recognizing the Government’s obligation to CAF members, Veterans and their families; and
- the authority for Veterans Affairs Canada to provide advice and information to CAF members and Veterans, and make decisions on applications for benefits and services prior to their release from the military to help them successfully transition to civilian life.
“As the MP for Sarnia-Lambton, I realize how important it is for Veterans to know that they will have a support and benefit system in place that is reliable and provides the financial support that these men and women will require in both the short and the long-term,” said Davidson. “With the announcement of the suite of benefits and supports over the past several weeks, we are clearly expanding the options available to Canadian Veterans to ensure they have the ability to live a dignified and respectable life. It is also incredibly important that these programs and services have been called for by Veterans, Veterans Organizations and the Veterans’ Ombudsman, and I am pleased that the Support for Veterans and their Families Act will fully address the calls we have been hearing from Veterans and affiliated stakeholder organizations for these changes to be made.”
Davidson said the government initiatives are also bolstered by recent investments in new and expanded mental health initiatives, including a Veteran-specific Mental Health First Aid training program, a four-year pilot project to expand access to military family resource services, a new research project aimed at families of Veterans with operational stress injuries, and development of a mental health action plan. In January, a permanent operational stress injury satellite clinic was announced for Hamilton and a major new OSI clinic will also be established in Halifax.