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Existing federal support may be enough to fight vets poverty: Feds

ABOVE: Canadian Forces veterans slam Julian Fantino and the Conservative government for breaking the “sacred obligation” to care for injured and wounded soldiers 

OTTAWA – The Veterans Affairs Department is weighing whether federal programs will provide enough of a safety net to keep the most severely injured ex-soldiers from falling into poverty after they turn 65.

READ MORE: Veterans say there’s a huge gap between Tory rhetoric and reality

Minister Julian Fantino and senior officials have told a Senate committee that concerns about gaps in coverage, raised last fall by the veterans ombudsman, are still under review.

READ MORE: Some ex-soldiers retire in poverty due to veterans charter: report

But Fantino suggests some worries may be addressed by a parliamentary review of the new veterans charter, the Harper government’s signature legislation that governs the benefits and entitlement of those who served.

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Veterans ombudsman Guy Parent found that hundreds of disabled veterans, most from Afghanistan and recent peacekeeping missions, will be left out in the cold at 65 because they don’t have a military pension and will lose some allowances.

READ MORE: Conservatives failing veterans, critics say

Mary Chaput, deputy minister of veterans affairs, says the ombudsman may be on to something, but officials need to study the situation.

She also says other existing government programs such as Canada Pension Plan benefits and old-age security, are available and officials are looking at how they help these ex-soldiers.

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