Thank you, Mr. Valeriote. There was a lot there that I'll address in sequence.
Certainly I saw Madam Migneault here today and I look forward to speaking more with her. I've already learned quite a bit from her perspective as a caregiver and the compassion she shows, and I appreciate those in the home helping people with operational stress injuries.
Second, on your statement—is this enough?—and your pessimism about this bill not passing, I sensed that there would be delays in Bill C-58 so that's why it's in the budget implementation bill. It will pass. I've made that commitment.
Is it enough? As I said to Mr. Stoffer, fair criticism is to say, there is more to do. In fact, when your party created the new veterans charter—I know you weren't in the Parliament when it was created—it was intended to be a living charter. I've said repeatedly since I became minister that that's what it will be. What I hope is that we pass Bill C-58, which addresses some of the critical items this committee recommended. That's why I was hoping for swift passage. Then this committee could do what it did last year, which was to look back and see whether the new benefits, the new reforms, the new programs in Bill C-58, and in the last two years on mental health have been having an impact, and then plan a new set of priorities. That's how this committee should run. As minister, I would count on that input to make sure that we're meeting the needs, not just today but in the future.
On PTSD, let me say this. In my work before I became a parliamentarian supporting military families, this was my area of focus. It is a huge priority for the government. By the end of this year, we'll have 26 operational stress injury clinics open across the country. The first one didn't open in Canada until 2002. This is trying to address a growing need.
When it comes to the critical injury benefit, what I've said to veterans is, this benefit is open to any type of physical or mental injury. There is the possibility of somebody suffering post-traumatic stress from a single occurrence. The issue with operational stress injuries is that no injury is the same and no treatment regime is usually the same. They're very individualized injuries, so this is inclusive.
But what veterans and parliamentarians should not do is start comparing physical injuries to mental injuries. If the critical injury benefit ends up being primarily for serious physical injuries, that's okay. We're trying to address the seriously injured. It's a tailored benefit that's not meant to apply to 700,000 veterans in Canada. At the same time, permanent impairment allowance is primarily paid to people with mental injuries from service. Is that inherently unfair to somebody with a physical injury? No, it is not. The new veterans charter tries to tailor financial support, medical support, and rehabilitation to the needs of the veteran, whether their injury is physical or mental. So it's not fair to compare who might qualify; it's about getting them the support they need.