Thank you for the question, Mr. Opitz, and thank you for your service for many years in the Canadian Armed Forces, and the work you've done with veterans on transition and hiring programs. It's appreciated.
When I unveiled the retirement income security benefit, which was a key priority of this committee, of the ombudsman, of the Legion, of NATO vets, and of a number of organizations addressing this issue at 65 for moderately to severely injured veterans, at that time I said that I wanted the department to move toward a predictable and understandable lifetime payment for our seriously injured. People understand what a pension is in terms of that permanency.
With the new veterans charter there are a lot of supports and benefits, but because they're stacked on top of one another, we have potentially three or four lifetime benefits. They're different things stacked on top of one another: permanent impairment allowance, permanent impairment allowance supplement, retirement income security benefit. We need to streamline those into a single payment that's understandable for those veterans that are eligible. That will give them peace of mind. It will also allow Canadians to know that support is there.
As you slide down the scale of serious injury, mental or physical, the focus truly has to be on the rehabilitation piece, income support through earnings loss, vocational rehab, retraining, and re-education to get into that second career; all of this whether or not they have accumulated pension time in the Canadian Armed Forces.
If you joined at 18 and wanted to be a soldier, sailor, or airman for the rest of your life, and an injury changes your plans at 32, what is the best option if you can physically and mentally get into a new role that's good for you, your family, and your future? Let's facilitate that. With these fixes, we're going to start getting the balance, as the committee said, not just working for most veterans because most is not enough.