Mr. Speaker, I would like to comment on some of the points that the member opposite raised.
On the issue of aboriginal veterans, following the first nations veterans grievance, last year in June we made the announcement of an offer of up to $20,000 for each veteran. There was a total of $39 million for all those first nations veterans who returned to the reserves shortly after the war.
That package has been accepted by the first nations veterans community. Applications have been received. and as of last month close to 1,000 applications had been processed.
Regarding the Métis grievance, to date we have reviewed some 120 files provided to us by the National Métis Veterans Association. I can tell the House that the Métis veterans did receive the same benefits as all other veterans.
This is not surprising because the Métis were not recognized as Métis and therefore they could only be recognized as veterans-at-large. However, we wanted to be assured and so we reviewed the files. In fact, the files showed that they too received the benefits.
Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I gave the assurance, when I met with the leadership of the National Métis Veterans Association, that I would continue to review files provided to us to add the greatest of certainty.
On the issue of regulatory changes alluded to that are not in the bill, by their nature changes to regulations are governed by another piece of legislation. Section 5 of the Veterans Benefit Act has made it possible for Parliament to delegate the authority to make regulatory changes to the governor in council.
With this process we were able to do the regulatory change to the veterans independence program extending benefits to spouses much sooner. Otherwise we would be engaging in debate and the benefits would not have started.
As to why we have not extended the benefits to other widows whose benefits had ended prior to the effectivity of this particular regulatory change, I can only say, we tried. We did not succeed. This issue will remain always in the heart of this minister.