Strong investments in Veteran well-being, Defence and Security welcomed
OTTAWA, ON, 19 April, 2021 – The Royal Canadian Legion is pleased to see this year’s budget not only contains a critical focus on pandemic support and recovery, but also outlines a range of investments that will prove beneficial to Veterans and their families.
“Given the needs arising due to the pandemic, we were not expecting this much welcome investment in our Veteran community and we are very happy to see our Veterans have not been forgotten,” says Dominion President, Thomas D. Irvine, CD. “We look forward to working collaboratively with the federal government and all partners to provide support wherever we can.”
Focus on Veteran mental health. Veterans’ mental health will be a major focus with $150 million in immediate funding to Veterans Affairs Canada for a new program. It will cover mental health treatment costs for Veterans with a range of diagnoses, while they wait for their disability benefit applications to be processed. The Legion is pleased with this outcome, as we have seen the toll that wait times have taken on Veterans. The strain on mental health has been further exacerbated by the pandemic.
Reducing the benefit application backlog. The budget provides $29 million to allow Veterans Affairs Canada to retain personnel who are working to combat the current massive backlog of benefit applications, something the Legion helps Veterans complete.
Enhancement of Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund. The investment of $15 million over three years for Veterans Affairs Canada to expand and enhance this fund, is welcome news. Projects will include supporting Veterans post-COVID-19, related to homelessness, employment, retraining and other health challenges. The Legion has been pushing for improvements in all of these areas.
Reduction in Veteran homelessness. $45 million over two years, will allow Employment and Social Development Canada to pilot a program aimed at reducing veteran homelessness, a key Legion priority. Under the program, rent supplements and support services such as counselling, addiction treatment, and help finding a job will be included. Another priority for the Legion is improving transition services for Veterans, and we hope this pilot program will help strengthen knowledge about what works.
Commitment to Long Term Care. We are pleased to see a 3 billion dollar commitment to Long Term Care, in particular, an additional $90 million in funding for a Stay at Home Wellness Program to ultimately benefit our Seniors, including Veterans.
Fighting misconduct. We applaud new funding for the Department of National Defence to help with legal costs for formal complaints related to misconduct, in addition to new resources to work on eliminating sexual misconduct within the military. There will be new external oversight mechanisms to bring greater independence to the processes of reporting and adjudicating sexual misconduct in the military, a crucial element expressed by Veterans the Legion has served.
Protecting health and safety. We welcome new and ongoing funding to ensure that Canadian Armed Forces members receive timely access to health care. Further investment to pilot online and in-person peer support groups for CAF members and Veterans who have experienced sexual misconduct during their service is a crucial commitment. The groups will be tailored to military experience.
Defence and Security. The budget provides significant funding for defense spending including needed dollars for equipment such as fighter aircraft and a new frigate. The Legion believes our military requires the best and most modern tools to do the job. We are pleased to see a commitment to modernize NORAD, which helps detect and defend against threats to our continent. Further support to sustain existing continental and Arctic defense capability is also positive news. In addition the budget provides for higher Canadian contributions to NATO’s common budget and military activities.
For more information on the full list of Legion priority areas, please visit: https://www.legion.ca/advocating-for-veterans/advocating-for-change
About The Royal Canadian Legion
Founded in 1925, the Legion is Canada’s largest veteran support and community service organization. We are a non-profit organization with a national reach across Canada as well as branches in the U.S., and Europe. With close to 250,000 members, many of whom volunteer an extraordinary amount of time to their branches, our strength is in our numbers.
Public Relations / Media Inquiries: Nujma Bond 613-591-3335 ext. 241 or PublicRelations@Legion.ca