Mr. Speaker, to honour veterans, fallen soldiers, and peacekeepers who stood up for Canada, we gather on Remembrance Day to honour the service of the men and women who put their lives on the line for our country.
Nanaimo—Ladysmith's Legions, No. 256 Mt. Benson, and No. 10 Harewood, in Nanaimo; No. 257 Lantzville; No. 171 Ladysmith; the Gabriola Island Veterans Association; and Cedar Valley Memorial Gardens, all held powerful services to recognize Remembrance Day in Nanaimo—Ladysmith. I am grateful for their work. They are keeping veterans' stories alive, and we are grateful to them.
Veterans need parliamentarians to do our part to recognize and support those who have sacrificed for our country. There is clearly a debt owed, there is money in the till, and sincere and vital promises have been made. Every year, 3,000 veterans pass away, so let us get on with it and act to show that we truly support veterans.
There are eight things that parliamentarians can do to live up to that responsibility. Last year, this House unanimously passed a motion brought forward by my colleague, the member of Parliament for Port Moody—Coquitlam, recognizing Canada's covenant of moral, social, legal, and financial obligations to veterans.
Here are the eight ways that we could act on that unanimous commitment of this House:
One, instead of spending thousands of dollars fighting veterans in court, the Liberal government should halt the court proceedings against wounded veterans and spend that money instead to bring back veterans' pensions.
Second, because one in six vets experiences mental health or alcohol-related disorders, or have in this past year, and because half who have served in Afghanistan have suffered PTSD, depression, and anxiety, I call upon this Parliament to prioritize and support the mental health of military service men and women, veterans, first responders, retired and volunteer first responders, and their families.
Third, to make real change for vets and their families, we can defeat paternalistic legislation that blocks pension benefits for two groups: one, spouses of veterans, RCMP members, judges, and public sector workers who choose to marry after the age of 60; and, second, retired and disabled Canadian Forces and RCMP veterans.
The fix for this bill and the mental health one referred to previously are Bills C-260, C-261, and Motion No. 61, all from the member of Parliament for London—Fanshawe and the New Democrat critic for Veterans Affairs.
Fourth, to our shame, homelessness rates in Canada are shocking, with estimates that there might be as many as 1,300 veterans living on Canada's streets. Canada's national housing strategy must take action on veteran homelessness.
Fifth, the government should act on detox treatments for veterans exposed to chemical defoliants like Agent Orange. Medical treatment can cut dioxin levels such that veterans can return to work. It will not repair the damage, but it can help people function.
Six, we should relax the regulations on access to veterans hospitals, and ensure that veterans from World War II and the Korean War are able to access these beds when they require long-term care.
Seven, and I am very glad to say that this has already been done, the government will start covering the cost of medically prescribed cannabis extract products for police and military veterans being treated for PTSD. This was the subject of a petition that I sponsored, and I am very glad that the government listened to the many Canadians who supported this change.
Eighth, we can pass this bill to make Remembrance Day a holiday. Earlier versions of this bill to make Remembrance Day a holiday across the country were introduced by former New Democrat MPs Dan Harris, Chris Charlton, Nelson Riis, and veterans' advocate Peter Stoffer.
In my home province of British Columbia, November 11 is already a holiday. As a result, we see families coming together to recognize and celebrate Remembrance Day. When families remember together, they are able to teach their children about the sacrifices that the men and women who have fought and continue to fight for Canada have made.
For example, Ladysmith's Legion hosts an afternoon ceremony in the community of Cedar, at the Cedar Valley Memorial Gardens, where there are cadets, Guides, Scouts, and and Beavers. It is lovely to see, and a great example of what happens when families honour and celebrate together.
Last month, on Remembrance Day, we recommitted to standing up for veterans and their families, so that every veteran has the care that our country owes them. Bureaucratic delays and disingenuous platitudes cannot define Canada's response to veterans, and just 2.5 of 23 Liberal promises have been fully implemented. Let us use our power as leaders and voters and support real change for veterans and their families.
On Remembrance Day and all days, we never forget; we forever honour.