Motion for veterans passes unanimously in House of Commons

Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns says motion could mean up to $124 million per year

Courtenay-Alberni NDP MP Gord Johns speaks up in the federal House of Commons in Ottawa. PHOTO COURTESY GORD JOHNS

Courtenay-Alberni NDP MP Gord Johns speaks up in the federal House of Commons in Ottawa. PHOTO COURTESY GORD JOHNS

A motion to reallocate unspent funding for Canada’s veterans passed unanimously in the House of Commons today.

Courtenay-Alberni MP and NDP Veterans Affairs Critic Gord Johns tabled a motion on Monday to reallocate the federal government’s lapsed funding to improve services and benefits for Canadian veterans. Johns stood before the House of Commons and asked the federal government to “make use of this lapsed spending so that veterans get the services they need.”

While backlogs have been growing for veterans seeking disability, he said, $372 million has been left unspent in Veterans Affairs.

“This government is failing our veterans, meeting just 12 of its 24 self-identified service standards, and have not hired the caseworkers they promised,” he added.

The NDP’s motion says that the government must automatically carry forward all annual lapsed spending to the next fiscal year in order to improve services for Canadian veterans until the department meets these 24 service standards. The measure could mean up to $124 million per year to improve services at Veterans Affairs Canada, said Johns.

The motion received unanimous support, but John says there is still more to do.

“Just this week we’ve seen that veterans were denied benefits because of an accounting error, and the Liberals will make them wait two more years before they fix it,” said Johns in a later release. “This, on top of the fact that Liberals are trying to reduce pension benefits to some veterans. Canada’s veterans deserve better.”

READ: Feds promise $165 million in compensation after shortchanging 270,000 veterans

Since Johns was appointed the NDP Veteran Affairs critic in February of this year, he has travelled to different communities in his riding to speak to and hear personally from Canadian veterans.

READ: Gord Johns hears veterans issues in Courtenay-Alberni riding

“Passing this motion today is a victory for veterans,” Johns said on Tuesday. “But any lapsed spending is only the tip of the iceberg.”

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com