Posted on 25 November 2010
Charlottetown Senator Percy Downe recently learned that the Conservative Government did not spend $33 million, which was supposedly set aside to compensate veterans who had been exposed to Agent Orange chemical spraying.
Downe recently found out that because of the severe restrictions and qualifications attached to the compensation package, many veterans were not eligible. Over $33 million – a third of the announced funding for veterans – was never distributed to victims of the chemical spraying.
At a meeting of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs held on Wednesday, November 17, 2010, Charlottetown Senator Percy Downe asked Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn what became of those undistributed millions. Minister Blackburn responded: “The money would remain in the Consolidated Revenue Fund.”
In other words, this money is not returned to the budget of Veterans Affairs Canada – nor does it go back to fund assistances for Canadian veterans and their families – even though it was originally designated to do just that.
Veterans affected by Agent Orange chemical spraying were hopeful when they heard Stephen Harper promise during the 2006 election, “Our government will stand up for full compensation for persons exposed to defoliant spraying during the period from 1956 to 1984.”
However, once in power, the Conservative Government announced a limited compensation package only to those veterans exposed during the period from 1966 to 1967, prompting Canadian veterans and their families to launch a class action lawsuit against the Government of Canada in an attempt to have Stephen Harper honour his original promise on Agent Orange.
In response to a Written Question Downe tabled in the Senate, the Conservative Government confirmed that over $7.8 million has already been spent on legal fees. It would appear that instead of assisting veterans, the unspent $33 million is being used to fight them in court.
For further information:
Senator Percy Downe: 613-943-8107
Or toll free at 1-800-267-7362