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Percy Downe

The Hon. Percy E. Downe, B.A. Senator Percy E. Downe was appointed to the Senate of Canada by the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien. He has served in the Senate representing Charlottetown in the province of Prince Edward Island since June 26, 2003.

Parents of Critically Injured Soldier Denied EI Benefits

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Published by Senator Jane Cordy on 30 April 2009

Trooper Kyle Ricketts, a Canadian soldier from Newfoundland and Labrador, was critically injured by a roadside bomb on March 8th while serving in Afghanistan. He has since undergone a dozen or more reconstructive surgeries. Of course his parents wanted to be with their son, as any parent would, while he was having his operations.

Mr. and Mrs. Ricketts are seasonal workers and they were told that they would be stripped of all their EI benefits if they left their province to be with their son in Ottawa.

Minister Finley personally intervened and she assured the family that this would not happen and they would be able to be with their son and continue to receive benefits. Minister Finley made the following commitment through a ministerial spokesperson, “The Ricketts’ case has been resolved and they would get their benefits.” (CP Wire, March 20th, 2009) The Ricketts were then flown to Ottawa to be with their son.

I have been told that the Ricketts family was informed in a phone call made by Senator Wallin, on behalf of the government, they would now only receive one week of benefits. The family was told by the Minister they would receive full benefits and now have been told by the government they will receive only one week and forced to pay back any benefits which they received in excess of one week.

I find it unbelievable that our government would treat this family in such a way. Our military and their families give so much to Canadians. Can we not afford to pay the parents of a severely injured soldier employment insurance benefits for a few weeks while they spend time with their son who is undergoing surgery?

On April 29th during Question Period in the Senate I asked the Government Leader, Senator LeBreton about resolving the issue.

I am awaiting an update from her next week.

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