House of Commons Hansard #124 of the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was housing.

Topics

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Luc Desilets Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I completely agree with my colleague.

The government is responsible for making the relevant information available to people leaving the Canadian Armed Forces. I very much enjoyed my colleague's answer.

I would like to give her a few seconds or minutes to talk about a project in London, Ontario, that wiped homelessness off the face of the map. I am extremely curious. Who financed the project? How did it start? What organization is responsible?

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I did note the organization and what its name was earlier. What was so important is that the stakeholders and the municipality came together to say it was an issue they wanted to address. By bringing everyone together within that community, they identified I believe about 20 veterans in their area who were homeless. They then actively created strategies collectively.

One of the things we know, especially when we sit here in a federal seat, is that we are big and we cover a huge country, but local solutions make the most sense because local people know how to work collaboratively, so it is important that, as the federal level of government, we always look at ways we can support the people on the ground. If those resources are not given to those organizations, then the actions cannot be taken in a meaningful way.

I am glad London could do this, but I think it is very important that the federal government steps up, supports these kinds of programs and looks at models that work so we can do what we must do, which is get veterans into homes.

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is tragic that the Liberal government has not responded. Although the Conservatives have moved this motion today, it was the former Conservative government that was responsible for cutting supports to veterans. Now we have a crisis where people who sacrificed of themselves are living on the streets. I know the NDP has offered solutions. I wonder if my hon. colleague could discuss some of those them.

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, very briefly, the NDP has again recommended that we need more non-market housing. At the end of the day, what we need to deal with the housing crisis across the country is housing that is actually affordable, not defined by corporations but defined by people's incomes.

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Blake Desjarlais NDP Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want thank to my hon. colleague for a remarkable speech, one that hits on the very important aspects of today's debate.

Today, we are talking about veterans and it is always an honour for me to recognize the contributions of veterans and also the veterans who are present in the House. I want to thank them for their service.

What we are seeing across Canada today is truly deplorable. We are talking about homeless veterans, something that should never have been a topic in the House. It is to the extent that nearly 5,000 former serving members, who make up a part of about 630,000 veterans across the country, continue to live through this every day.

We are seeing veterans on the front lines of poverty. Whether it is my community of Edmonton—Griesbach or Powell River or Winnipeg, indigenous women and other vulnerable groups hit the intersection of this crisis. When we are talking about veterans, the barriers they feel are immense.

I want to highlight some of the history of veterans affairs in Canada and my own experience with advocacy for veterans in the Métis community.

For a long period of time, Métis people have contributed greatly to the Canadian Armed Forces at home and overseas. I am reminded of the stories that veterans shared with me in September 2019, when the government and the Prime Minister apologized for the mistreatment of Métis veterans in Regina.

I was present at that apology and what I heard was the recognition that indigenous veterans were left behind. They served in World War II. Whether it was the Cree code talkers or the expert snipers from indigenous communities, they put their lives on the line, even when Canada did not recognize them. They knew that the fight for justice and the fight for freedom was one that we all share and one that unites each and every one of us as Canadians.

It is deplorable to think that, during World War II, this country was able to manoeuver and make what was financially impossible materially possible. We were able to house, feed and clothe over one million Canadians during the war. Today, we are talking about 5,000 veterans who do not have those means.

This is a true matter of our nation's dignity, the treatment of those who put their lives on the line, the treatment of those who sometimes go ignored for their service. Today must be a day when we recognize their sacrifices, not just during their service but during the time that comes afterward. We just heard the New Democratic critic of veterans affairs describe the importance of veterans and the issues that they are currently facing in transition.

When we think about the services that the government should be providing for veterans, we often think of the other groups that are doing that work, the groups that are filling the gaps for veterans, the groups that are continuing to feed, house and clothe with barely any resources. I think about the Veterans Association Food Bank of Edmonton, for example, which started as a food bank and today has grown into a larger mandate of supporting veterans. When I toured that food bank, I met with veterans who are proud of the service they have contributed to our country.

What they are not proud of is the fact that Veterans Affairs and the government will not provide them that same level of dignity. They are a remarkable people, working and volunteering on behalf of veterans for veterans, who are doing this work in my city right now, helping veterans access those programs where Veterans Affairs will not.

We must ensure that all veterans have that access. These programs that veterans have been unable to access are truly part and parcel of how we look toward a better future for veterans. When they do not work, it is the opposite. It shows these veterans that the door is closed, not open.

When I think about the tremendous work of veterans and their own contributions to communities, I think about the folks in my community who are volunteering at homeless shelters, even though they themselves face that same crisis. These are men and women who are contributing and want to contribute, but they also need to have their government contribute. We have the means in Canada as one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

To all of my colleagues in the House, I know that each and every one of us is dedicated to the prosperity and betterment of veterans. This should not be a partisan issue. Each and every one of us can recount our own family members, friends and neighbours who have served, and some continue to serve. These barriers should not be present.

As I said in the beginning of my speech, in Canada, when we had less wealth, when we had fewer people even, we were able to house, feed and clothe one million Canadians. Today, we must fight poverty, which is the challenge that is facing veterans and Canadians from coast to coast to coast. We can, in fact, make a contribution to veterans that eliminates poverty. We can, in fact, do the work that makes the financially impossible materially possible. I am confident that, with members of the House, if we can see beyond our differences for the betterment of all veterans in our country, we can, in fact, house 5,000 veterans, we can clothe those veterans and we can feed those veterans.

There is no amount of money that is too much to ensure that veterans and their families are taken care of, because what they are offering is far more than what our country could ever give back. They are offering their lives, their families and their time. It is a huge sacrifice and one we cannot take for granted, one to which Canadians owe a debt. We can, in fact, eliminate poverty for veterans. I know we can do this if we are able to see veterans as the truly remarkable people they are, and not just when they serve but in our communities. They are our neighbours, our community members and the people who show up at the Legion and help out when they are asked to. These are real people. They do not, like many others, deserve to be homeless.

Canada is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. I know that, with co-operation from each and every member of the House, we can, in fact, eliminate poverty and we can eliminate houselessness. What better way to start than by ensuring that our veterans are housed, fed and clothed.

On this day of our debate, I hope we can continue to hear, through the contributions of all of my colleagues, about the importance of veterans, and not just in our communities but across the country. I also hope to hear of members' commitment to work across party lines to eliminate the issues of transition that veterans face today, to see the nuanced division and intersection between indigenous veterans and women veterans and to see that we need to do more.

I am confident that, if we do that, we will not have to return to this place and debate again the fact that we have houseless veterans, which is a true tragedy in Canada and one that we can eliminate. We can eliminate poverty.

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (Senate)

Madam Speaker, I agree with the member for Edmonton Griesbach that we should allow nothing to stand in our way to house, in particular, these 5,000 veterans who are homeless.

It would be very easy to put money to this, and I do not think anybody in the House would disagree with that. However, as indicated by the member for North Island—Powell River who spoke before the member, one of the real challenges has to do with getting in touch with these veterans who are homeless. Quite frankly, many of them do not know that the supports are there, and we do not know where many of them are physically located because they are homeless.

I wonder if the member could comment on the position that perhaps the government should be taking to get the word out there and to try to get in touch. Is there anything that we can do beyond putting money towards something, which I know everybody in the House would agree we should do?

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Blake Desjarlais NDP Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Madam Speaker, there are existing community organizations doing this work.

My hon. colleague for North Island—Powell River gave an example related to the elimination of veteran houselessness in London. We know that partnerships with local communities and municipalities can provide the data that is important in helping us identify those veterans, offer better supports and at times fund support programs that are already in place.

The Edmonton veterans association, for example, hosts peer nights, where veterans come together, share stories and participate together. We need to invest in these solutions.

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

November 3rd, 2022 / 12:10 p.m.

Bloc

Xavier Barsalou-Duval Bloc Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères, QC

Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is very aware of the issues facing the French language. The hon. member for Rivière‑des‑Mille‑Îles, our veterans affairs critic, has taken up the fight and has often spoken about the major inequities between francophone and anglophone veterans, including the fact that francophones' files are shelved and nothing is done about them.

I would like to know whether my colleague also condemns this, and whether he thinks it is acceptable for there to be two ways of doing things in this country, the fast way for anglophones and the slow way for francophones.

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Blake Desjarlais NDP Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for bringing this important advocacy to the attention of the House.

It is important that we understand that, often in Canada's history, francophones have been discriminated against not only in veterans affairs but often in other social programs for which they are eligible. This is part of a systemic problem not only in this place but also in local legislatures across the country, which continue to grapple with the promotion and protection of francophones.

I am in solidarity with the member from the Bloc Québécois who is raising this important point. Francophone veterans do deserve the same level of respect and access to programs that they deserve.

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Alex Ruff Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Madam Speaker, I know the NDP member is close to CFB Edmonton. Could he elaborate on how big of a challenge homelessness for veterans is in his own riding?

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Blake Desjarlais NDP Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague not only for the question but for his service as well.

Indigenous women and other minority groups are often the ones seen in Edmonton Griesbach in tents and on the streets throughout the community. What we do not often see is that some of these people are veterans. Some of them do not want to come forward and self-identify as veterans because of the shame associated with their living conditions. However, that is not their fault. That is the fault of the system that failed them.

What we see is that when that transition period comes there is a massive drop-off. It is almost like going off a ledge, where they seem to plummet and not find the support they need.

There is a grassroots movement across Edmonton. We have the Edmonton veterans association that has picked up the pieces to identify, house, clothe, feed, provide peer support and unite these veterans with community.

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (Senate)

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Lac-Saint-Louis today.

Normally, I am very critical of the opposition, the Conservative Party in particular, moving motions of concurrence like this. I usually feel as though it is an opportunity to try to slow down government legislation, but I am grateful the opposition moved this today. It is very important that we have this discussion as we lead up to Remembrance Day.

Quite frankly, I have learned a lot sitting here this morning while listening to what other members have had to say. Any opportunity we have to further educated ourselves on the issues that veterans are facing, in particular as it relates to homelessness, are opportunities we should take. I am more than happy to have the opportunity to speak to this.

I have mentioned that we are approaching Remembrance Day. The Tuesday morning after Halloween, my six year old started talking about Christmas, as young children do as they move from one festive day to the next one. I made a point of saying, “Frankie, I think it is better if we talk about Remembrance Day for the next 11 days before we get to Christmas. He asked me what Remembrance Day was.

That gave me an opportunity to explain to him about the men and women who had gone out to various parts of the world to defend the values we hold so dear and to give us the quality of life we have. His eyes completely expanded as he was absorbing what I was saying. Obviously, a six year old cannot understand the realities of war, the complexities of global and foreign affairs, and the struggles our country has gone through to give us our incredible quality of life. Any opportunity we have to talk about this important issue is one that we need to have inside and outside the chamber.

It was referenced by the veterans affairs parliamentary secretary that one in 60 Canadians are veterans. We should stop and reflect on the number of individuals who have come from our country, and currently reside in our country, who have given that incredible quality of life. He talked about his recent trip abroad and about the people in the countries that Canada helped liberate many years ago through different wars. In particular, I think he was talking about World War II.

I was immediately reminded of my own family. I literally would not be standing here today had not been for the men and women who fought for our country. My grandparents on my father's side came from Holland and my mother's came from Italy. They moved to Canada in the 1950s from their war-torn countries. My grandfather, up until he passed away in the mid-nineties, would tell the story of the Canadians who liberated Holland.

My grandfather and grandmother owned a cornerstore in Hilversum, which is about 20 minutes north of Amsterdam. When the Germans moved into Holland and started to occupy it, he had to hide, as many men did during that time, from the Germans every time they would come through the country looking for men to work in factories.

As the war dragged on and the Germans started to run out of people to work in these factories and as it was becoming more clear they were struggling, they would walk into houses. They would bang on the front doors of houses in Holland, walk in and take men who would often not return home. My grandfather told the story of how he would hide from the German soldiers, as many other men would, to avoid being ripped from their families.

One day, he came out of hiding to see Canadian soldiers walking in the streets of Hilversum, literally liberating his country that had been under German rule for three years, I believe, by that point. They were liberated by Canadian solders. It was at that point my grandfather said that was where he wanted to live, in a country whose individuals had travelled across the world to defend values and freedoms.

As a result, my grandparents packed up their family and left their war-torn country with literally nothing but the idea and the dream of having a better life. They travelled on a boat, and my dad still has the ticket from that boat, to Canada, where they eventually ended up in Kingston. My mother's story is not much different, just from another European country at the time. As a result, I am the product of the decisions made by both sides of my family that allow me to be here today and to be in Canada.

I say this because when we talk about Canada being a country that promotes peace around the world, we quite often get caught up in this idea and lose sight of what that really means. We get caught up in thinking that it means people who stood in the chamber, debated in the chamber, created laws and policies and engaged in diplomatic foreign affairs throughout the generations before us somehow created Canada's incredible reputation. I would argue that this has very little to do with the politicians who were in this room and so much more to do with the men and women on the ground, even today, representing Canadian values.

When I was on the defence committee, I had the opportunity to travel to eastern Europe to study Operation Reassurance and Operation Unifier, and nothing moved me more on that trip than when we were sitting with the chair of the defence committee for Ukraine. He asked if we knew why the Canadian brigade had all these other countries lined up to be part of it. He said it was because those countries had the option of joining the brigades of the United Kingdom or the United States, but they were not interested as they wanted to be part of Canada's brigade.

When we talk about Canada's leadership throughout the world, it is not the leadership, in my opinion, that comes from this room; it is the leadership of our men and women and how they engage with people in other parts of the world.

I say all this to set the premise for how we should be taking care of these veterans when they come back from serving our country. The member for Barrie—Innisfil, in addition to others today, brought up Homes for Heroes. This is an organization specifically geared toward helping veterans find stable places to live so they are not homeless. As many members in the House have said, it is an absolute travesty that there are 5,000 homeless veterans in our country, which I did not know before I heard it in the debate today, after the incredible sacrifices they made for us.

Homes for Heroes is doing great work, and I understand the federal government has been helping to employ people to engage in growing this organization and making the operation successful. I am very familiar with the organization because it recently established a location in the city of Kingston to house veterans.

One of the biggest problems with housing veterans and finding and establishing communities, like what Homes for Heroes is striving for, is ensuring we have the right pieces of land to make that happen.

Unfortunately, because of decades of processes that have been put in place to rezone property, it can become quite cumbersome for organizations that are quite feeble in their operations and do not have the resources that larger developers might to properly go through the process of rezoning land to create villages like what Homes for Heroes is doing. The federal government needs to continue to explore with its provincial counterparts how to expedite that process. In Kingston, the provincial minister was able to say that the province was going to put an end to the process.

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Richard Bragdon Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Madam Speaker, we all in the House share a great respect and a tremendous debt of gratitude for all those who have served our country, who have fought and paid the ultimate price for our freedoms, not only our veterans but their families that carry such a weight along with those who serve and make those big sacrifices.

One of the most tragic things that has emerged of late is about a veteran who was in crisis, experiencing tremendous trauma, and I am sure at a low point, needing help, reaching out for assistance, and was encouraged by a staff member of VAC to consider MAID as an option. That is a tragedy. This should never take place.

I would like to know what the government will do to address that and ensure safeguards are put in place so this never happens again.

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, I was unaware of this incident, although I have heard about it today in this debate. If I can accept what the member is saying to be factual, trusting that he has done his research, I will respond to that. I certainly do not believe it is anybody's business to discuss medical options with any individual other than the person's doctor and, in this case, somebody who is qualified to make comments to that end.

Do I believe that any staff member, as the member suggests, should be talking about such things? Absolutely not. It is absolutely horrendous if that is the case and there should certainly be an investigation into this by that individual's superior.

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Bloc

Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Madam Speaker, the government has been setting targets for francophone immigration outside Quebec since 2004, but in all that time, it has never achieved those targets.

In its response to a committee report, the government admitted that there was racism within IRCC and, as a result, students from francophone African countries have been treated inequitably. In the matter before us today, it is pretty clear that francophone veterans are discriminated against compared to anglophone veterans.

Will the government admit, once and for all, that it does not care about the French fact in Canada?

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, I will not admit to anything about which I am unaware of the details. However, absolutely nobody should be discriminated against in our country.

In particular, when we talk about veterans, if there is one issue that all members of the House should be able to get behind is that the safety, security and supports for our veterans are of absolute paramount and we should spare no expense to ensure that is the case. We will always have different opinions as to how that should be done. I think we can work in a collaborative way to forge some kind of consensus on how we move forward with that.

To the member's question more specifically about discrimination, clearly I do not see a place for that. I do not condone it. I would certainly urge anybody who is in a position of authority to do something about that and look into it.

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Lisa Marie Barron NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, even one veteran who is homeless is too many, yet we are here today debating and discussing the ways in which the government can move forward with solutions to ensure veterans are not homeless.

As a member of the Liberal government, what would the member propose should be changed today to ensure that veterans have barrier-free access to supports, so we are not leaving veterans on their own to sort this out, and that we are providing these supports for them.

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, one thing the government should focus on actually comes from a comment I heard from a colleague of the member for North Island—Powell River. We need to do more to find out where homeless veterans are. The reality is that there are many homeless veterans out there, but we just do not know there physical location. We know they are unaware of a lot of the supports that exist.

I understand that we rely a lot on community and volunteer-based organizations to collect that data. I do not know the extent, personally, to which the government is collecting that data, but we need to work better at finding individuals who are homeless, veterans in particular, so they can be made aware of their supports.

The federal government, in my opinion, should be focusing on that in addition to everything else.

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, I commend my colleague on a fantastic speech, which I found very interesting, particularly the part about the history of his family and his parents.

Like all my colleagues here in the House of Commons, I am very thankful for what the members of the Canadian Armed Forces do for the well-being of everyone, the well-being of the country and peace in the world. Obviously, we are all deeply grateful for the sacrifices of these veterans, many of whom gave their lives to preserve, promote and protect our freedom and world peace.

I represent a community, Montreal's West Island, that has deep ties to the military history of this country and to veterans. It is not because we are better than others, but due instead to a very particular history in the area.

After the Second World War, there were a lot of veterans in the various cities and rural areas of the country. There were a lot of veterans in the Montreal area and many moved to the West Island.

Also, Ste. Anne's Veterans Hospital was built in 1917, if I am not mistaken. That hospital received veterans from the First World War who required medical care. The hospital still holds a prominent place in Montreal's West Island community.

The hospital was replaced by a new hospital in 1968, the highest building in the area. The building can be seen when you arrive on the island of Montreal. It can bee seen from the village of Hudson on the road toward Montreal. That building, which is also a hospital, is well-known to everyone who lives on the West Island.

Attached to the original hospital was a centre reserved for those coming back from wars who were suffering from what is now called post-traumatic stress. That term was not used at the time. A lot of these people stayed on a type of campus attached to the veterans hospital, called Senneville Lodge. It no longer exists, as the hospital offers those services for veterans. In 2019, next to Senneville Lodge, the village of Senneville dedicated an extraordinary park on the Lac des Deux Montagnes now known as Souvenir Park. It is dedicated to our veterans, including those who spent much of their lives at Senneville Lodge or Ste. Anne's Veterans hospital.

On the weekend, a series of ceremonies will begin in my constituency to mark Remembrance Day. It will begin with an extraordinary ceremony that is repeated every year, which takes place at an exceptional site known as Heroes Park.

I would like to recognize the person who spearheaded the project, who had the vision to create that park. He is a friend and a fellow citizen, retired Major Richard Gratton. He served in Afghanistan and, when he returned, he worked for the Canadian Armed Forces at home. He held administrative positions. It is thanks to Major Gratton that we can mark Remembrance Day in Beaconsfield at Heroes Park, which pays tribute to the military and to all first responders, including law enforcement. The ceremonies begin on Saturday.

I would also like to mention that, although he is retired, Major Gratton works hard to help veterans, modern-day veterans, integrate. He works very hard for a foundation called The Trail.

The Trail's mission is to promote excellence by supporting veterans in crisis in Quebec and Canada. To date, the foundation has opened three service centres for veterans to help them in their transition and reintegration into society. There is a service centre in Mirabel, one in the Quebec City area and one in Notre‑Dame‑de‑Grâce on the Island of Montreal. The foundation is currently working hard to open a shelter for veterans in transition on Montreal's West Island.

The foundation is preparing a funding application under the veteran and family well-being fund, a program that has existed for some time but that was enhanced in budget 2021. The program works with community organizations.

Through that program, the government has been able to support groups like the Old Brewery Mission in Montreal, emergency transition services for veterans, the Home for Heroes Foundation, homeless shelters in Fredericton, the Good Shepherd Refuge Ministries in Toronto, Legacy Place, and many others.

I hope The Trail will be able to access the program's fund to carry out its extraordinary project of acquiring a shelter on Montreal's West Island.

Obviously, there is still a lot of progress to be made. That is why we have committees that conduct studies and make recommendations like the ones we are discussing this morning. This committee work sometimes leads to some very specific recommendations being made to the government. This gives the government the opportunity to create a road map to improve our country and, in this case, the services we provide to our veterans.

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Fraser Tolmie Conservative Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan, SK

Madam Speaker, one of the things my colleague mentioned was the committee, which I sit on, and the number of reports and recommendations. In this committee, we have reports from the ombudsman, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, our own committee and now the Auditor General, in addition to this report, which have all said the government has a failing record.

What is the point of having all these reports if the government is doing nothing about them? What is the government going to do?

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, I am not a member of the government; I am a member of Parliament. I do not sit in cabinet. I share the objective of other members of Parliament, including those in the opposition, which is the goal of bringing attention to issues that the government needs to deal with.

I hope that through the debate we are having today and, yes, through the report, some good concrete action will come out. The government has many programs that are benefiting veterans, but as our Prime Minister has said, better is always possible. Governments can always do better and do more.

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Bloc

Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to see my colleague's list of agencies that are helping seniors across Canada.

That being said, in Quebec City there is another organization: le Repos du soldat. It is requesting a parcel of land that belongs to the Department of National Defence, a department that gave land to an anglophone school in a city that is 97% francophone.

Why is an anglophone school in a francophone community getting preference over our veterans?

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, my colleague raises a very interesting point.

Earlier I was talking about the Senneville Lodge, an asset belonging to Veterans Affairs Canada. A local association wanted to acquire the land in order to build seniors residences with a focus on veterans. However, there is a process to go through when the government wants to divest its assets. It is a rather objective and complex process.

In the case my colleague raises, I am not aware of how this unfolded. I am sorry, I cannot comment.

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, earlier this year, I participated in a Vancouver Island motorcycle run for homeless vets, and the funds we raised were given to Cockrell House, Homes for Heroes and the Legion. I am just wondering if my colleague can offer some thoughts on why, with this problem and in this day and age, we are still relying on the efforts of individuals to raise funds to address this problem. Does he have any comments on that? This problem is so perennial but we are still relying on the efforts of individuals. With no resources of their own, they are trying to highlight this issue and do the work that governments should be doing.

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, as I mentioned in my speech, budget 2021 and budget 2022 did include some infusions of funding specifically to address the problem of homeless veterans, so yes, there is funding. I am sure there are areas where there could be more funding, but citizens step in even when there is ample government funding. We see it in the hospital sector, for example, where foundations are created because people want to help.

This is an important priority and it deserves a great level of government support.