Mr. Speaker, before starting, I would like to inform you that I will split my time with the member for Ottawa—Orléans.
I am very pleased to rise today to speak in support of Bill C-27. I served for 23 years in the Canadian Forces, in the reserves, the regular force, and the cadet corps. I participated in the missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in Afghanistan, in 2007, when we were starting to realize that we were not in a peacekeeping mission but at war.
I am pleased to speak to yet another important way that our government is creating new opportunities for Canada's veterans and still-serving members who want to join the federal public service. The veterans hiring act builds upon our efforts to create priority hiring for those men and women who are medically releasing from the military because of a service-related injury.
This new bill reflects our government's profound gratitude for the service and sacrifices of Canada's men and women in uniform, past and present. Just as importantly, it recognizes that Canada's veterans and servicemen and women are highly skilled and admired individuals who are known for their courage and dedication. It recognizes our government's appreciation for their leadership, their professionalism, and their teamwork.
Most of all, it recognizes that they are renowned for getting the job done, no matter what the mission is. Our government is proud of them. We are proud of their extraordinary contributions to our great country, and we want Canada to continue to benefit from their experience and expertise. They have a lot to offer, even when they are retiring at the compulsory age of 60.
Increasing access to career opportunities for veterans in the public service does all of this. It also builds on our many other important investments and initiatives to support veterans in their transition to civilian life, an ongoing eight-year commitment that started when we implemented the new veterans charter, in 2006, and one that has continued with the delivery of our economic action plan 2014, in February.
Our government has been single-minded in doing everything we can to ensure that veterans and their families have the care and support they need when and where they need it. This includes ensuring Canada's veterans make a successful transition to civilian life, which often depends on finding meaningful new employment.
The fact is that the average age of our releasing Canadian Armed Forces personnel is just 37 years old. These young men and women have the drive, skills, leadership, and experience to start successful new careers. That is why we are helping veterans and their families with vocational training and employment opportunities after their military service.
This includes a flexible new approach to training for eligible veterans in the rehabilitation program, which provides up to $75,800 for even the most specialized training, if needed, and the hire a veteran initiative that is aimed at connecting veterans with employers.
We are working closer than ever before with both the private and public sectors to remind them of the very real benefits and advantages of hiring former military personnel. We are committed to ensuring that veterans have the supports they need to successfully transition to civilian life.
We demonstrated this when our government announced that Canadian Armed Forces veterans who are medically released due to a service-related injury or illness would be given the top level of priority consideration for job openings in the public service.
The veterans hiring act builds on this. We want to help move veterans to the front of the line when it comes to hiring qualified Canadians for federal public service jobs.
As well, this initiative would provide even further support for all medically released veterans, by extending their existing priority entitlement period from two years to five years.
However, our government proposes to go even further.
The bill adds new measures that would benefit even more veterans and Canadian Armed Forces personnel. Among other things, we would extend additional hiring opportunities to other honourably released veterans and still serving members who want to start a new career in the federal public service.
Through the amendments we are proposing, qualified veterans who have at least three years of military service will be given access to internally advertised positions. We will also allow them to continue to compete for these internal postings for a full five years after their release from the Canadian armed forces.
As well, these veterans would receive a hiring preference in the externally advertised hiring process if a veteran is equally qualified and has been honourably released and has at least three years of military service. Simply put, if a veteran is as qualified as the other candidates, the hiring priority will ensure that the veteran gets the job.
During their service to Canada, Canadian Armed Forces personnel and veterans have acquired the skills that make them ideal employees. These new measures recognize that. They have demonstrated their commitment to Canada, and it is now our responsibility to ensure that they have access to the employment opportunities they need to be successful when their time in uniform is complete.
At the same time, the five-year hiring preference would provide veterans with sufficient time to further upgrade their education and skills if required, before they seek work in the federal public service. This measure would ensure exactly what I mentioned at the outset of my comments, that our government will continue being able to tap into a remarkably skilled and dedicated pool of individuals, a pool of talent that was created through our country's investment in their training and development.
Although their time in uniform is complete, their dedication to Canada remains, which is why I am pleased that these measures would help veterans continue their service to Canada in the public service. This is the right thing to do for every Canadian who has proudly worn our nation's uniform.
We hope all members of the House will throw their full support behind these measures. Let us move quickly so that we can put these enhancements into effect as soon as possible. Our nation's veterans and still serving members deserve our support, and our government is proud to deliver it.
Obviously it is a shame that the Union of National Defence Employees is unsupportive of what is being proposed. It does not agree that we should recognize the service of Canada's veterans by providing them with access to jobs that will help them and their families succeed. Instead, it wants to see them moved to the back of the line behind civil servants. I strongly urge the NDP to bring the union bosses onside and support this legislation.