Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for giving me an opportunity to expand on the question, because it will allow me to correct a great deal of misinformation in the public domain about this particular issue.
The Minister of Veterans Affairs announced these extraordinary improvements to mental health support for active serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces, Canadian veterans, and their families. He said it was an investment that would significantly improve mental health support for veterans and still-serving members, including their family members.
The member opposite has fallen for the misinformation propagated by members of his own party, and partisan critics of the government have lost sight of what truly is good news. The measures announced by the minister will allow for earlier intervention for veterans living with mental health conditions. This means more support and assistance and a better chance of achieving successful outcomes.
The network of operational stress injury clinics is expanding. By fall 2015, a new clinic will open in Halifax, Nova Scotia; a regional clinic will be set up in Montreal; while the existing clinic in the greater Toronto area will also be expanded. We will also expand services in six other locations throughout the country. Over the six-year period, more than 1,200 veterans in the Halifax area could receive specialized care closer to home, allowing better access to specialized assessment, diagnosis, and treatment services. Additionally, the regional clinics could help 1,300 veterans.
Fifteen new peer support coordinators are being hired to enhance the operational stress injury clinic and social support program. The peer support program is in high demand. By employing 15 new peers, another 2,200 veterans and their families could be helped by trained peer support coordinators who have already experienced the same challenges. These coordinators listen, support, and encourage veterans to access needed treatment.
Access to seven military family resource centres will be expanded on a pilot project basis to include medically releasing Canadian Armed Forces personnel and their families. Traditionally, the services and programs offered through these centres have been available only to still-serving members of the military. This change alone will allow up to 1,200 medically releasing veterans and their families to take part in this pilot project. This is a tremendous resource, giving them access to a wide range of services to help address their needs as they transition to civilian life.
A veteran-specific mental health first aid training course will help increase awareness of the various kinds of mental health conditions. This means that a veteran or his or her family member may be able to respond or intervene earlier if someone he or she cares about is in crisis. This training course could benefit up to 3,000 veterans and their families. Imagine what that would mean to someone who may go from day to day in fear of a mental health crisis.
These are valuable programs and service improvements.
I encourage that member to stop with the partisan games and help us to eliminate the misinformation that continues to cause confusion in the veterans community.