IN THE HOUSE ~ Question ~ about cuts to frontline services to Canada's Veterans

   M. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NPD): Monsieur le Président, on a hâte d'avoir un gouvernement qui reflète les valeurs canadiennes.

    Le ministre des Anciens Combattants nous a dit hier qu'il a coupé les postes de 1 000 spécialistes qui venaient en aide à nos anciens combattants car ils ne sont que d'obscurs bureaucrates qui passent leurs journées à faire des photocopies. C'est faux. Seulement 10 % des coupures touchent des postes administratifs.

    Pourquoi le premier ministre laisse-t-il son ministre tromper les anciens combattants? Pourquoi ne pas le congédier? Il est incompétent et il n'a plus la confiance des anciens combattants.

    Le très hon. Stephen Harper (premier ministre, PCC): Monsieur le Président, on comprend très bien la position du NPD: il veut protéger les postes des bureaucrates du ministère des Anciens Combattants et il est contre les services pour les anciens combattants.

    Let me give tell members, in line of this question, precisely what I am talking about. In fact, in the veterans independence program, the department cut 100 people whose only job was to process small claims from veterans that are now allowed automatically. That is what we did.

    At the same time, we increased benefits under the veterans independence program. The NDP voted against that.

    Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, tell that to the 50% of veterans who cannot even access disability benefits.

   Yesterday, when asked about cuts to frontline services, the minister responded, “veterans have been saying that we should in fact reduceâ€�, but the minister cannot tell us the names of these veterans who have supposedly been coming to him, demanding cuts.

    In the minister's fantasy world, he has only been cutting backroom and internal services.

    He also says that cuts in his department are somehow reinvested back into service.

    Wrong, wrong, and wrong.

    The current minister has lost the confidence of veterans. Why does the Prime Minister not fire him?

    Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I could give thousands of examples of where we have streamlined back-office support, including, of course, eliminating photocopy and processing clerks in place of digital medical records.

    There is the difference. The NDP wanted to keep bureaucrats to do nothing but cross us and delay payments to veterans under a program it actually voted against. On this side, we cut down the bureaucracy. We deliver service to the veterans.

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