Evidence of meeting #106 for Veterans Affairs in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was homeless.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

William Webb  As an Individual
Stephen Gregory  Founder, Respect Campaign
Brenda Fewster  National Director, University Outreach and Program Evaluation, Respect Campaign
Ralph Mahar  Executive Officer, RCMP Veterans' Association
Karen Ludwig  New Brunswick Southwest, Lib.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

I'm just saying, because Cousineau from Nova Scotia fought hard for that service dog tax credit.

4:50 p.m.

As an Individual

William Webb

I've been claiming my service dog as a medical expense since I received my dog.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

Okay.

Are you aware of the new ID veterans cards that we...?

4:50 p.m.

As an Individual

William Webb

I'm still waiting for mine to come in the mail.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

You made reference to the fact that you didn't have it and that did cause you many struggles as you were moving forward.

4:50 p.m.

As an Individual

William Webb

Being homeless, I'm not allowed to renew my driver's licence without a fixed address. I'm unable to drive my vehicle and take my kids to clinic appointments because I don't have a driver's licence. In B.C. you're required to have a fixed address.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

And you didn't have a service card before?

4:50 p.m.

As an Individual

William Webb

No. I was released prior to the service card being cancelled. My base would not fill out the paperwork and allow me to apply before I was released.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

The service card was cancelled in 2014?

4:50 p.m.

As an Individual

William Webb

It was February 2016.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

The service card?

4:50 p.m.

As an Individual

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

You didn't receive the other one yet. We'll run a check on that. It's extremely important.

You did share something that I wasn't aware of. You said that with housing, if there is more than one person involved it's a problem being able to access those programs.

Is what I understood correct? Can you explain that a little?

4:50 p.m.

As an Individual

William Webb

Because I have children, I don't have access to any of the organizations that offer community housing for veterans. That community housing is set up for primarily hard-to-house homeless veterans who are dealing with addictions and far more severe mental health issues than I deal with.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

Were you homeless?

4:50 p.m.

As an Individual

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

Someone helped. He was not a veteran from Canada but an ally, was he?

4:55 p.m.

As an Individual

William Webb

Yes, I was able to get into some form of social housing because of a British veteran who worked for that organization.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

What can we do to identify homeless veterans? Would you have any suggestions for us? It's a very important issue.

4:55 p.m.

As an Individual

William Webb

From what I've seen from the data from the Legion Ontario Command, they do a fairly decent job tracking homelessness.

There is no mechanism in place where I live, through the Vancouver Island Health Authority. They are not tracking veterans. They don't even ask the question, when dealing with homelessness in B.C.

I'm your resource to initiate that process in my region, because I work with veterans. We're the resources you should be asking to do the work for you on the ground—the boots on the ground.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Neil Ellis

Mr. Kitchen.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Gordon Kitchen Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you all for being here today.

I'm going to continue on that same line, if I might.

Sergeant, we heard from a constable, I believe, from Vancouver, who is helping veterans on the street there. I suspect I know what you're answer's going to be. It sounded like she was doing it 24/7. I was totally impressed with the amount of work she puts into that. What I think I'm hearing from you is that you've basically taken on that role on Vancouver Island and that there's a big difference between veterans on Vancouver Island and veterans in downtown Vancouver.

I come from rural Saskatchewan, and it's very difficult to get into those areas to find out who are veterans are. Do you have any comments, maybe speaking from that perspective, as to the challenges you have on Vancouver Island?

4:55 p.m.

As an Individual

William Webb

There are no services at all for homeless veterans on Vancouver Island—zero—especially for people who have children and are homeless. We don't qualify for those social housing projects. In places like Vancouver or Vancouver Island, if you ask anybody who is homeless, everybody's a veteran because they all think they're going to get some help or some free money. We need a common stream to track the data, to make sure they are veterans. It's pretty easy when I ask, “What's your service number?”, and they just throw a number out there, you know they're not a veteran.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Gordon Kitchen Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Okay. That's a big challenge that we hear. We're hearing that veterans don't identify with the question, “Are you a veteran?” They will say no, but if you ask them, “Did you ever wear a uniform?”, then you at least get that first initiative to talk with them.

February 4th, 2019 / 4:55 p.m.

As an Individual

William Webb

That's a pride thing with veterans: we don't want to ask for help.