An Act to amend the Department of Veterans Affairs Act (fairness principles)

Sponsor

John Brassard  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Second reading (House), as of Dec. 1, 2017

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Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Department of Veterans Affairs Act to require that, in exercising his or her powers and in performing his or her duties and functions, the Minister of Veterans Affairs take into account certain principles in relation to, among others, persons who have served in the Canadian Forces or merchant navy or in the naval, army or air forces or merchant navies of Her Majesty as well as in relation to their dependants or survivors.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Department of Veterans Affairs ActPrivate Members' Business

December 1st, 2017 / 1:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

moved that Bill C-378, An Act to amend the Department of Veterans Affairs Act (fairness principles), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today in the House to speak about my private member's bill, Bill C-378. I stand in the House on behalf of the millions of men and women who have fought for our country, the 700,000 veterans. It is for them that I rise with respect to this bill.

I also rise with an understanding that the sacrifices that have been made by those men and women and their families throughout the course of Canadian history is what allows all of us who sit in our symbol of democracy the privilege to do so. I want to thank them, their families, and their memories. I hope by the time I am done here today, I will have done a good enough job explaining what the private member's bill is all about and ask for the support of the House for it.

I am looking to establish three basic principles within the Department of Veterans Affairs Act: that the person, as well as his or her dependants or survivors, is to be treated with dignity, respect, and fairness; that the uniqueness of a person's professionalism, obligations, and sacrifices such a profession demands also impacts the experiences of the individual's family; and that any decision regarding the care, treatment, and re-establishment in civilian life of the person and the benefits to be provided be made in a timely manner.

It is in the spirit of Sir Robert Borden, who spoke to Canadian soldiers preparing for that great battle of Vimy Ridge, that Bill C-378 is introduced. Our eighth prime minister said to the troops at the time:

...you need have no fear that the government and the country will fail to show just appreciation of your service...The government and the country will consider it their first duty to prove to the returned men its just and due appreciation of the inestimable value of the services rendered to the country...

Sir Robert Borden may have been the first to talk about an obligation and duty, but he has not been the last. Veterans and current members of the Canadian Armed Forces who I met with this summer told me they wished to see these principles in place.

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to travel across the country to meet with veterans, their families, and stakeholders. Every single one of them talked about this sacred obligation, this covenant, on behalf of the government and its service men and women. When Sir Robert Borden spoke of that obligation to Canadian soldiers, there has never been an obligation to the men and women and their families enacted in Canadian legislation, and that is what I hope to change with Bill C-378.

This is not an indictment on any government. It is not an indictment on the current government and it is not an indictment on the valuable employees who work at Veterans Affairs Canada. This is about doing something for which veterans have asked.

The previous government brought in a Veterans Bill of Rights in 2007. Under the Veterans Bill of Rights, veterans have the right to take part in discussions that involve them and their families, have someone with them to support them when they deal with Veterans Affairs, to receive clear, easy-to-understand information about programs and services in English and French, as set out in the Official Languages Act, and have their privacy protected, as set out in the Privacy Act.

More importantly, the Veterans Bill of Rights has two rights that are included as principles in Bill C-378. The first principle is that the person be treated with respect, dignity, fairness, and courtesy, the benefits and services as set in our published service standards, and knowing one's appeal rights.

Canada had the Veterans Bill of Rights, but it is the 2011 armed services covenant from the United Kingdom, Prime Minister David Cameron, that was the gold standard, and continues to be the gold standard, for stating a nation's obligation to its forces.

Highlights in the U.K. armed forces covenant include that they, the men and women and their families, “deserve our respect and support, and fair treatment.” It says in that covenant, “the whole nation has a moral obligation to the members of the Naval Service, the Army, and the Royal Air Force, together with their families.” They “should face no disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services. Special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given most such as the injured and the bereaved.”

It is also important to understand that the United Kingdom is the only country in the world that has a covenant with its service men and women.

I am proud of Bill C-378 and the principles that our armed forces members and veterans are asking for. I would like to take some time to go through the three principles. The first principle states, “that the person, as well as their dependants or survivors, is to be treated with dignity, respect and fairness;" This respect is duly earned, as the men and women who defend our democracy essentially go to work in a theatre of war where those they are battling do not recognize the rights and freedoms that Canadians expect to have.

Canadians would not have those rights and freedoms without the efforts of our brave soldiers and the sacrifices they have faced on battlefields for the past 150 years. In the words of Aaron Bedard, a veteran and someone I now consider a friend, about fairness, respect, and dignity, “I know that the principles of fairness, respect and dignity towards Canadian veterans are as important to [Canadians] as they are for veterans and our families.” I believe that in all that I am. It was Sir Robert Borden who first touched on the idea of obligation because of the duty performed by our Canadian Forces.

The second principle of Bill C-378 states that we should recognize “the uniqueness of the person's professionalism”, and “the obligations and sacrifices”, such as that a profession “demands also impacts the experiences of their family”.

It was only in recent years where the duty of a soldier's family has been recognized. This recognition is long overdue. For far too many years, families along with veterans suffered in silence with what was at first called “shell shock”, which we know now as the unseen injury of post-traumatic stress disorder.

On that note, the hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George has passed Bill C-211 in the House. It has been 168 days that legislation has been in the Senate, and it is time that the bill be passed in the Senate.

In many veterans affairs committee meetings, it was the spouse or a family member that spoke out about their roles in keeping their father, brother, mother, sister alive after returning from theatres of war. Bill C-378, if passed, will forever recognize the uniqueness and obligations of not only the veterans who fought, but the families of the soldiers and our veterans.

More important is the third principle, “that any decision regarding the care, treatment or re-establishment in civil life of the person and the benefits to be provided to them be made in a timely manner.”

Many discussions in the House and in committee revolve around the care that our veterans receive. In some cases, Veterans Affairs does well, and I commend the men and women who work in VAC offices across Canada, in call centres, and in the Charlottetown headquarters, for the work that they do.

However, there must be a recognition that there are cases where gaps are located and the standard of service cannot be met.

The idea of providing benefits in a timely manner must be considered in all aspects of the care received by our veterans when they are transitioning to civilian life. There is a standard of care, but there are way too many gaps right now causing delays. We can do better, and we must do better.

Dave Bona, a veteran and mefloquine survivor said it best when he stated:

When a soldier comes home all they ask for is to have the services and medical care they need available in a timely manner for themselves and their family. Having these reasonable principles in the act will set in place the simple obligation that we ask for.

The obligation is that care be provided when it is needed, not six, seven, 10, or 12 months after it is asked for. The obligation of getting care to veterans rests with Veterans Affairs Canada. Service provision in a timely manner does not mean using an average of 16 weeks to deliver services within, for example, but giving a realistic expectation to veterans and their families of the different care that will be delivered in varying circumstances. The principle of receiving care in timely manner takes the idea of “in a timely manner” from being aspirational to being realistic and expected. It also puts it in legislation. As research improves how care is delivered, so should the timing of when that care is delivered.

As I said, last summer I had an opportunity to travel the country with the members for Yorkton—Melville and Souris—Moose Mountain, and met with veterans and their families. I met with a Robert Gagnon, a veteran walking across B.C. to help veterans suffering from PTSD. In Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, we talked with the women and men who run the military family resource centres. I met with Medric Cousineau, who has saved 99 lives by pairing veterans with trained service dogs. In Calgary, we learned the incredible story of how the police are helping our homeless veterans. In Edmonton, we met with CAF members and veterans together, and in that meeting, a colonel helped one veteran get off the street after hearing his story at that round table.

I give all of the credit for the three principles in Bill C-378 to everyone we met this summer. It is the veterans and their families, the MFRC staff, and the volunteers and activists who helped get this bill to the House today.

I hope all members of the House will support this bill and get Bill C-378 to committee, where more voices of veterans and their families can be heard on these important principles and the need to get them put into legislation.

Finally, as I close, I will give the last words to Don Sorochan, a lawyer from Vancouver, B.C. He wrote to me and said:

I welcome this Bill to further recognize the Military Covenant. Throughout our history Canadians have put life and limb on the line to serve Canada. The Covenant is Canada’s promise that in return for this service to protect our country and its democratic institutions, those who serve and their dependents will be honoured, respected and looked after by a grateful nation. The implementation of this Covenant should not be left to the whims of bureaucrats or the other pressing demands of the government of the day.

It is important to understand that this obligation is not just to be placed on the current government, this minister, or the bureaucracy. This covenant is to be placed on future generations, future governments, future ministers, future bureaucrats, and future parliamentarians, who understand the sacred obligation, the covenant that Canada should have, needs to have and, hopefully, will have with its veterans.

Department of Veterans Affairs ActPrivate Members' Business

December 1st, 2017 / 1:40 p.m.
See context

Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne Québec

Liberal

Sherry Romanado LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to debate Bill C-378, an act to amend the Department of Veterans Affairs Act.

I want to thank the member for Barrie—Innisfil for his advocacy on behalf of veterans. It is a real pleasure working with him on the committee for veterans affairs.

I do not think that there is a person here today who does not want what is best for Canada's veterans. I know that the Government of Canada respects what veterans have done for this country, and will ensure that those with service-related pain and suffering will be well cared for and supported for life.

In hindsight, it is no secret that the new veterans charter introduced in 2006 was not completely successful. Some parts of it worked, but many others did not. The matter of the transition back to civilian life was never properly addressed.

When the Liberal government took office in 2015, the Prime Minister clearly indicated that the time had come to fix that. Veterans and their families deserve our respect and gratitude, and the existing system needed a major overhaul to create a process that is easy to access, simple to navigate, and focused on the veteran.

To accomplish this, he tasked the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence with an aggressive mandate, with 20 commitments that focused on three clear points.

First, the veteran must be at the centre of everything that Veterans Affairs Canada does. Second, we have to work harder to include the veteran's family in all planning, benefits, and services. Third, we have to do whatever we can to help every veteran reach their new normal.

A big step forward in achieving these goals is to regain the trust of Canada's veteran community, which is something the department has been making strides in by engaging with veterans and taking action. I have personally travelled to 12 wings and bases since March, and I have talked to our troops, veterans, and their families about how we can work together to get this right. As part of a military family, I believe it is important to listen to our veterans, our Canadian Armed Forces members, and their families, and I will always be willing to do so.

Veterans Affairs Canada has held stakeholder summits and working groups, has created six ministerial advisory groups, and has listened to concerns, ideas, and suggestions from veterans and veteran stakeholders from across the country. That feedback helped lead to our delivering on six mandate commitments in 2016, and to the initiatives that were introduced in budget 2017 that will deliver on eight more.

In budget 2016, the government committed to investing $5.7 billion over six years to restore critical access to services, ensure the long-term financial security of veterans with disabilities, and honour the service, sacrifice, and achievements of those who served in our military.

Budget 2017 provides for a comprehensive set of measures to recognize the important role of caregivers, help more families, support mental health, and pay for the education and training veterans need to find a job.

That includes the implementation of eight measures totalling $624 million over six years.

Our work continues as we enhance the financial security and wellness elements of the new veterans charter to help veterans and their families transition to post-military life and make choices about what they want to do next, whether it be work, education, or other activities.

There is no doubt that our government has worked hard to provide veterans and their families with the care and support they need, and to commemorate those who served, all in line with the principles laid out in the Veterans Bill of Rights. Applying to all former members of the military and family members, the bill of rights includes the principles of dignity, respect, and fairness, because this government knows it is due to their contributions and sacrifices that we are all here today.

As I can confirm, family should always be a part of the discussion, because when a man or woman serves, or when their sons are serving, as mine are, the entire family serves along with them.

While the new veterans charter, introduced in 2006, received all-party support, what emerged over the years was a patchwork system of policies and benefits, which made it more complicated for veterans to get the support they needed when they needed it. This was a consistent message from the veteran community, and something the department has gone to great lengths to address. For over a year, through a service delivery review, they reviewed and assessed how programs and services are delivered to veterans and their families.

We now have a plan to provide services that are faster, more flexible, and more responsive by focusing more on veterans when they contact the department for the first time and by providing a personalized response that meets all of the veteran's needs.

Regardless of whether veterans call, visit an office in person, go online, or send a request by mail, Veterans Affairs Canada will ensure that they get the same information and have the same positive service experience.

This type of change does not happen overnight, but we have an action plan in place. It is posted on our website. It outlines each recommendation and when it will be completed.

The department has already started making some of the important changes that will make a difference now. For example, it has simplified the approvals process for certain disability claims, like PTSD and hearing loss, and has reduced the burden on veterans. This has resulted in 27% more decisions being completed in the last fiscal year compared to the year before. It is a small step, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.

One of our biggest endeavours so far has been the guided support pilot project. Launched in a few cities, a group of veterans were identified to receive one-on-one assistance in applying for benefits and services to ensure that they are getting the most out of what the department has to offer. The pilot project received tremendous feedback and delivers on some of the recommendations for in-person service delivery. It also addresses the larger issue of veterans not always knowing the right questions to ask. The department does the hard work of navigating the system and provides the veterans with the specific information and advice they need. Veterans Affairs is currently looking at the next steps with the project in order to roll it out nationally.

Another recommendation was to bring back the client survey in order to ensure that all veterans and their families had a chance to provide feedback. I am proud to announce, on behalf of the department, that the results of this national survey are in, and it is clear that we are making progress.

Some of the results attest to the department's efforts to improve the long-term financial security and independence of veterans who are sick or injured. To restore critical access to services, Veterans Affairs Canada reopened 10 offices across the country last year, in addition to substantially improving access to front-line staff and case managers.

In this recent survey, 83% of veterans, RCMP members, and family members responded that they felt their case management plans met their needs. That is a significant increase from 2010, when only 24% were satisfied. Additionally, 81% responded that they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the support the department provides, and many felt that services exceeded their expectations. An overwhelming 94% found that VAC staff treats them with respect. That speaks volumes for the progress the department is making, indicating that it is headed in the right direction in respecting, supporting, and treating all veterans fairly.

The issue at the core of the bill comes down to how we treat veterans and their families in their dealings with Veterans Affairs Canada by calling on the department to treat them with fairness, respect, and dignity, and to recognize the unique experience of veterans and their families. I doubt there is a member in this place who disagrees with the importance of these sentiments.

The challenge presented by the bill is how we define these principles so they are interpreted consistently and not subjectively. These principles exist in the Veterans Bill of Rights, and if they can be strengthened, we should examine doing that. I would like to see the bill make it to committee where members can take a much closer look at these principles and how Veterans Affairs can and should apply them.

When it comes to our Canadian Armed Forces members, our veterans, and their families, we will always strive for excellence and to improve our services and benefits. Indeed, the very reason I decided to run for federal office was that I felt veterans and Canadian Armed Forces members and their families were not being treated as well as they could be. With two sons serving, I know that they, too, one day will be veterans, so I am committed to working hard for them and all military families.

I look forward to working with the member for Barrie—Innisfil to make sure that we do right by our brave men and women in uniform, those who have served, and the families who support them.

Department of Veterans Affairs ActPrivate Members' Business

December 1st, 2017 / 1:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Karine Trudel NDP Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, if passed, Bill C-378 would amend the text of the Department of Veterans Affairs Act to require that, in exercising his or her powers and in performing his or her duties and functions, the Minister of Veterans Affairs take into account certain principles in relation to, among others, persons who have served in the Canadian Forces or merchant navy or in the naval, army, or air forces of Her Majesty as well as in relation to their dependants or survivors.

It is somewhat ironic that this bill was tabled by a Conservative member, given that it was the former Conservative government that abolished lifetime pensions and shuttered Veterans Affairs offices across Canada. Veterans who need help in my riding of Jonquière are still suffering the consequences. Furthermore, the Conservatives laid off 900 staff at the department, forcing veterans who were leaving the department to scramble to reach case managers and receive services and benefits.

Like all my NDP colleagues, I am proud to support these changes that would enshrine respect for veterans in law, especially as it related to timely access to benefits. Far too many veterans have to wait to receive benefits because their applications can take months to process.

Currently, when wounded veterans are discharged, their benefits, services, and medical care are often still being processed, which puts them and their families in a precarious financial and emotional situation.

It can take several months before they start to receive their benefits and before they can access medical care. It is important that these women and men who fought to protect our freedom be treated with dignity. I think that their service has already caused them enough stress, so let us not make things worse for them. The government should do its duty; veterans have already done theirs.

Canadians will recall that the Conservatives are the ones who took veterans to court, refusing to admit that the government had a sacred obligation to ill and injured veterans. It is very disappointing to see that the Liberals have hired the same lawyers to make the same arguments in court.

Despite the rhetoric from a number of members on both sides of the House, both Conservative and government members, we must give our veterans all the support they need. After all, real action is worth more than words.

As a member of Parliament, I have the honour of meeting veterans and members of the Royal Canadian Legion in my riding at all of their events. With them, I travel back in time to be reminded of what transpired, whether we are talking about the great wars or about missions they may have carried out throughout their careers. This is also an opportunity to discuss their work experience and what they went through. The stories are sometimes sad, but they can also be happy.

It is also always a pleasure to participate in the Remembrance Day ceremony. I was very proud that this year, on November 11, we were able to attend a parade of members of the army, air force, navy, the Saguenay naval reserve, and the cadets. A number of veterans were there to commemorate Remembrance Day. This parade took place in Arvida, where my riding office is located. I am very proud to speak with them as their member of Parliament.

While I am at it, I want to talk about the work that members of the Arvida branch of the Royal Canadian Legion are doing. These men and women are very involved in their community. They take part in Remembrance Day ceremonies and other activities, and they make a difference in the lives of veterans and their families by helping and supporting them every day.

I want to emphasize the family part because family is important to people who are facing hardships or whose health no longer allows them to do day-to-day or work activities.

Veterans' main focus is on working with the Legion to promote Remembrance Day, but they also support serving men and women in uniform. I would like to take advantage of the opportunity I have today as we debate Bill C-378 to acknowledge all the work Arvida's Royal Canadian Legion Branch 209, with its president, Steeve Brown, and his whole team, has done. I would also like to acknowledge the work of the women's auxiliary members, who are always present at the activities and who also support veterans. I am proud to recognize their president, Annie Drolet, who is a constant presence.

I am talking about the Legion because the branch will be celebrating its 70th anniversary on December 3. That is extraordinary. I would like to share a little story. Arvida's Legion building needed some renovations and one veteran even mortgaged his home to get the money needed to redo the roof of the building where we still celebrate many events today. These are good people who are very committed. I am sure I will hear more of their stories on December 10 at the brunch celebrating the branch's 70th anniversary.

To come back to the bill, I would like to quote the Royal Canadian Legion, which said the following with regard to Bill C-378.

The federal government’s budget has checked off a couple more priorities from the Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) mandate letter, but it certainly has missed the opportunity to deliver on key recommendations brought forward by the VAC ministerial advisory groups, specifically, the need for lifelong financial security for ill and injured veterans. Budget 2017 provides vague promises and no clarity on how the government will deliver lifelong financial security for our veterans and their families.

It has to be said: this bill is a step in the right direction, but it does not go far enough.

In conclusion, the NDP supports the improvement of services and pensions for veterans and their families. These changes are welcome, but they are nowhere near enough to give them what they desperately need. Action must be taken immediately to bolster pensions and mental health programs, increase the assistance offered to families, and improve career transition services for medically released veterans.

The NDP would like the National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces ombudsman's report entitled “Simplifying the Service Delivery Model for Medically Releasing Members of the Canadian Armed Forces” to become policy at the Department of National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada.

Department of Veterans Affairs ActPrivate Members' Business

December 1st, 2017 / 2 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to stand today to speak in support of Bill C-378, an act to amend the Department Of Veterans Affairs Act.

I want to make a short comment on the speech made prior to mine. The MP for London—Fanshawe is on the committee representing the NDP and I want to say what a pleasure it is to work with her. As the member for Barrie—Innisfil said, the work going on in that committee is significant and although at times it does become frustrating as we work from our various perspectives, the amount of work being done is significant, and it is a pleasure to serve there.

The new veterans charter, we must remember, was brought in by all parties within 48 hours through the Senate and back, with the unanimous consent of the House. Therefore, it definitely needs to be labelled a “living document” and there is a great deal more work to be done. I want to commend the member of Parliament for Barrie—Innisfil for putting forward such a significant private member's bill that seeks to put into law Canada's sacred obligation to our veterans, their families, and dependants.

Specifically, the Canadian definition of “military covenant” that the member is seeking states that the military covenant “is a promise by the nation ensuring that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly.” This covenant recognizes that there is no equivalent profession to that of service in the Canadian Armed Forces and the uniqueness of military service extends to the experiences of military families.

I have no connections to the military myself. I have always seen myself as a Canadian who truly supports and cares for our military. Having had the privilege of being part of the Veterans Affairs committee and serving as deputy shadow minister, I can say that my depth of appreciation and awareness has only grown, and this statement regarding an equivalent profession not existing is very true.

The bill also recognizes the obligation of the people and the Government of Canada to provide dignity, care, and respect to those members of the Canadian Armed Forces who have been disabled or have died as a result of military service and to their dependants in a timely manner. Since Prime Minister Robert Borden addressed the troops in 1917 who were preparing for the Battle of Vimy Ridge, stating, “you need have no fear that the government and the country will fail to show just appreciation of your service”, the terms “military covenant”, “sacred obligation”, or “sacred covenant” have been used off and on by governments and the government of today, and yet the term has not been entrenched in legislation as a form of respect to the members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Just yesterday, at the Veterans Affairs committee, the Minister of Veterans Affairs spoke about the investment made into developing our armed forces members into the best soldiers they can be and that the same level of commitment must be made in assisting them to integrate into civilian life when they choose not to, or can no longer, serve. The words that he spoke have been echoed in that committee over and over again over the course of the two years of the current government in leadership. This is not something new. It is something that we all agree to and our obligation expressed in Bill C-378 is seen as an absolute expectation by Canadians. It is a value that should be and can be documented for all to see. It should be formally entrenched in legislation as a form of respect to the members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

During the member of Parliament for Barrie—Innisfil's time as shadow minister for Veterans Affairs, I had the pleasure of working on committee and travelling with him this past summer, as he mentioned, on a veterans tour. Having the opportunity to go to Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Brandon, and then on to Dundurn, Saskatoon, Regina, and Moose Jaw with my Saskatchewan colleague MP for Souris—Moose Mountain, we heard first-hand from so many veterans about the challenges that they face. Some of it was very heartwarming; other parts of it were very heartbreaking. There is no question that a great deal more needs to be done, and veterans hold us accountable to that. Quite honestly, after talking to them face to face and getting to know them, they really do not care who is in power. Whoever is in power is going to hear from them and those who are not in power are going to work with them to encourage the government to move on with the next steps that need to be taken.

I just want to share a few stories that I had an opportunity to hear.

I met a veteran in Edmonton who had served for many years. His father had served in World War II and was not well when he came home and desperately tried to get the care that he needed. The veteran was the eldest of eight children. His mom was at home trying to take care of them, while his dad took care of the family financially. The veteran's dad was very ill and clearly not getting better. Thinking he had to do something, he enlisted, and began to serve. Within a year of his enlisting, his dad passed away. He told me it became his responsibility to care for the family. He gave $25 of his paycheque from the armed forces to his mom, which I imagine was a considerable amount of money then, so she could take care of his siblings,

What he told me next, I cannot even fathom because I assume that most of the problems we hear about today are from our newer veterans, while this was some time ago. He said that when the chain of command learned that he was giving his mother $25 a month, they indicated that they would be reducing his pay by that same amount, as he clearly did not need it.

What we have here is a culture that has gone on for some time. This again expresses why we need to put this into law. We need this covenant there to hold us to another level of accountability.

As sad as that story is, there is another side to it that I think reflects what I heard everywhere we went. Yes, there were frustrations and circumstances that were unfair in many circumstances, as well as situations in which the government was providing poorly and not doing the best it could do. Despite that, the veteran continued that he never regretted a day of service and was proud to serve his country. He is now in his early eighties and works at Home Depot. To this day, he wakes up at 5:30, shines his shoes, creases his pants, and goes to work. This is the kind of person we want to put this covenant in place for to show them respect for everything that they, our service men and women, do.

We are probably wiser and better off as a result of much that we do not understand or comprehend. That is why I encourage this entire House to move this bill to committee. Let us make it happen.

Department of Veterans Affairs ActRoutine Proceedings

October 23rd, 2017 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-378, An Act to amend the Department of Veterans Affairs Act (fairness principles).

Mr. Speaker, I rise this afternoon to introduce an act to amend the Department of Veterans Affairs Act. This legislation would introduce fairness principles to the duties of the Minister of Veterans Affairs. These principles come from veterans across Canada, veterans I had the pleasure to serve with in my role as opposition critic for veterans affairs.

The principles that I hope we will adopt by passing this bill will ensure greater respect, dignity, and fairness for our Canadian Armed Forces veterans and their families. They deserve our respect, our support, and fair treatment.

These principles form the basis of the Armed Forces Covenant passed in 2011 by the U.K. Parliament. The Armed Forces Covenant is a pledge that together we acknowledge and understand that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, should be treated with fairness and respect in the communities, the economy, and the society they serve with their lives.

With this legislation, I hope to have these principles added to the Department of Veterans Affairs Act to guide the current and future governments in the treatment of Canadian Armed Forces members, veterans, and their families. I hope that with this legislation, all veterans will receive the obligation owed to them by the Government of Canada and all Canadians.

I look forward to speaking further on the bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)