Statement made on 02 May 2012 by Senator Roméo Dallaire
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire:
Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate and may surprise my colleagues who are involved in veterans issues, because this is a new development as of today.
The charter adopted in 1943 for veterans of World War II and the Korean War included a long-term care program, which meant that the federal government would provide long-term care for these veterans — who suffered for decades from the effects of their injuries and who clearly needed more care as they got older — for the rest of their lives.
Later, in the 1950s, the Pension Act was passed during a period of peace and cold war. In this legislation, the specific needs of our veterans, namely long-term care, were not identified.
The new charter adopted in 1996 and implemented by the government of the day did not provide for long-term care for veterans of recent wars. Today, Canada has veterans who served longer than the veterans of World War II but who are still not provided with long-term care.
Why is the federal government in such a rush to close Ste. Anne's Hospital and turn it over to the provincial government when there are still 400 veterans staying there? This hospital has 446 rooms. Instead, why not offer civilians access to this hospital while continuing to manage it so that the needs of veterans are met? Why do the opposite? At the very least, this could be a temporary solution until there are only a few veterans left there.
In addition, absolutely nothing is being said about the central health care clinic for post-traumatic stress disorder, and yet this is a key component of the health care program for veterans suffering from this disorder. We do not know whether the clinic will be able to continue to operate under the upcoming agreement.
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