Some of these convene regularly with VAC at stakeholders committee meetings and I would like to pass on some of the concerns of these groups. Perhaps the most important relates to the Veterans Charter. Fine words, but unless the provisions are implemented in the spirit as well as the wordings it is virtually meaningless. The recommendations of the Special Needs Advisory Group should be followed. Veterans were promised that no cuts would be made to veteran services, VIP for widows and no reduction in survivor benefits for marriages after age 60.
The National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada is concerned about the takeover of the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Hospital by the Province of Quebec. Based on experience in other provinces, it is essential to ensure that veterans' rights are protected. For example, as most of the patients are Anglophones the provincial language policy could prove a problem.
There are other concerns--the claw-back of military pensions at age 65, reserve force benefits, the need to maintain the Pension Act conditions for older vets--that continue to arise and it pays to monitor them. Overall, our Veterans Affairs is doing a creditable job--there is obviously some dissatisfaction, but then nobody's perfect!
compiled by Les Peate