Thunder Bay Veterans Services Closure Angers Rafferty

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The faces of Canada - Veterans represent the best of our country
The faces of Canada - Veterans represent the best of our country

“Veterans are facing a crisis” – Rafferty

OTTAWA – An emotional John Rafferty states “Our veterans are facing a crisis”. The Thunder Bay Rainy River Member of Parliament is in the House of Commons debating a New Democrat motion that would compel the federal government to increase assistance to Canada’s veterans and keep nine Veterans’ Affairs open, including the Thunder Bay office.

The wording of the New Democrat motion is as follows:

Mr. Chicoine (Châteauguay—Saint-Constant) — “That, in the opinion of the House, the men and women who bravely serve Canada in the armed forces should be able to count on the government for support in their time of need, and that the government should demonstrate this support by (a) immediately addressing the mental health crisis facing Canadian soldiers and veterans by hiring appropriate mental health professionals; (b) reversing its decision to close veterans’ offices; and (c) prioritizing and concluding the over 50 outstanding boards of inquiry on military suicides so that grieving families may have answers and closure.”

Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino has come under fire over the past few days after a finger pointing session with a group of veterans in Ottawa.

Veterans are asking for Fantino’s resignation.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Prime Minister Harper states, “It is important that we state the facts and ensure veterans get these facts. This government is increasing points of service for veterans from a very few number of offices, the 600 points of service across the country. I know why the unions and the NDP oppose that, but this is in the best interests of veterans. They can play politics; we are going to keep delivering services to veterans”.

The faces of Canada - Veterans represent the best of our country
The faces of Canada – Veterans represent the best of our country

Rafferty Statement in House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have cut vital services that veterans rely on. They have called veterans “NDP hacks” when they complain. Now the minister has held a so-called round table. Why? Apparently it was so he could insult veterans to their faces.

In Thunder Bay, the Conservative government has betrayed local veterans and is closing our Veterans Affairs office on Friday. Second World War veteran Roy Lamore said it is “a disgrace”. This office was helping to support veterans when they were at their most vulnerable.

Our military personnel and veterans are facing a crisis. There have been eight suicides in just two months. Sadly, the Conservatives have been more focused on using the military to boost their brand than listening to veterans.

These brave men and women serve Canada with courage and distinction. Our duty is to be there for them in their moment of need, not abandon them to budget and service cuts. Members should make no mistake. New Democrats have always stood, and will continue to stand, shoulder to shoulder with our veterans.