HALIFAX – A two-month delay in the federal budget is also delaying funding and new programs for veterans, said Federal Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent.
Speaking after a town hall meeting in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Parent said the budget delay is creating uncertainty for veterans.
Proposed spending and programs were recommended in a report from the House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs in June 2014, but Parent said so far many of them haven’t been implemented.
“The unfortunate thing is that it’s tied to the budget, money will be coming from that and of course the recommendations will be addressed through that,” he said. “With a two-month delay now in the budget we’re facing some longer waits, frustrations for veterans, uncertainties, and that’s not healthy.”
The committee recommended various changes, including benefits for veterans over the age of 65 but who don’t have access to a military pension and new spending for reservists so they can get the same amount of money and support as regular forces if they are injured while serving.
Minister of Veterans Affairs Julian Fantino gave his response to the the report in October 2014. Fantino’s response led to some immediate changes, said Parent, but the response to other recommendations was an agreement “in principle.” The government will reveal how it will implement the recommendations when the budget is revealed.
“We can’t get a guarantee from the government until the budget is past because that will be the parceling out the money to different benefits and programs,” said Parent.
Parent also said the committee’s report addressed long standing issues with the veterans charter.
“The new veterans charter which is a new program for delivering services to veterans and their families also needs some major changes, it’s too late to go back to the old pension act but if we’re going to go forward with the new veterans charter, many improvements need to be made,” he said. “They need to be made fast and unfortunately budget is delaying a lot of those decisions.”
Finance Minister Joe Oliver announced in January that he would delay tabling the federal budget until at least April.