IN THE NEWS ~ $1 BILLION IN LAPSED FUNDS FOR VETERANS

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Published | Publié: 2014-11-20

Received | Reçu: 2014-11-21 11:39 AM

CBC TV: Power and Politics

CBC TV: Power and Politics

$1 BILLION IN LAPSED FUNDS FOR VETERANS

EVAN SOLOMON

Participants: ERIN O'TOOLE, PETER JULIAN, FRANK VALERIOTE

EVAN SOLOMON (NEWSCASTER):

WE LEARNED OVER A BILLION DOLLARS INTENDED TO HELP VETERANS NEVER GO OUT THE DOOR BECAUSE OF CONSERVATIVE MISMANAGEMENT. HOW CAN THE CONSERVATIVES JUSTIFY THIS. WHILE THEY CLOSE VETERANS OFFICES AND SHORTCHANGE TO 3.5 BILLION IN 2012, 2013. SHAME ON THAT PARTY FOR PLAYING POLITICAL GAMES ON THE PART OF VETERANS.

THE OPPOSITION TOOK THE GOVERNMENT TO TASK OVER REVELATIONS THAT MORE THAN A BILLION DOLLARS IN UNSPENT FUNDS IN VETERANS AFFAIRS RETURNED TO THE GOVERNMENT COFFERS SINCE 2006. THIS THE OPPOSITION SAYS WHILE CUTS TO THE DEPARTMENT HAVE LED TO THE CLOSURE OF REGIONAL VETERANS AFFAIRS OFFICES, CUTS TO SOME VETERANS PROGRAMS. THE GOVERNMENT SAYS IT HAS INCREASED OVERALL SPENDING TO THE DEPARTMENT SINCE COMING INTO OFFICE BUT WHY WASN'T THIS MONEY SPENT? VETERANS GROUPS INCLUDING THE ROYAL CANADIAN LEGION WRITTEN TO THE MINISTER LOOKING FOR STRAIGHT ANSWERS. SHOULD LAPSED FUNDING BE RETURNED TO GENERAL REFERENCE OR DIRECTED TO THE VETERANS AND THE DEPARTMENT IT IS SUPPOSED TO SERVE? JOINING ME TO TALK ABOUT THIS PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY OF MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE, THE NDP HOUSE LEADER, AND THE LIBERAL VETERANS AFFAIRS CRITIC. Mr. O TOOL, HELP US UNDERSTAND THIS. THERE IS A BILLION DOLLARS THAT WAS EARMARKED FOR PENSIONS AND OTHER BENEFITS FOR VETERANS. IT WASN'T SPENT OVER A NUMBER OF YEARS BECAUSE SOME VETERANS PASSED AWAY. YOU KNOW, YOU HAVE GOT VETERANS WHO PROTESTED THE CLOSURE OF OFFS. YOU KNOW THE SAYING, BENEFITS DELAYED IS LIKE BENEFITS DENIED. WHY WASN'T THAT MONEY SPENT ON VETS? THIS IS A GOOD TOPIC TO DISCUSS, EVAN, BECAUSE I'M HOPING MY FRIENDS WHO HAVE BEEN IN PARLIAMENT FAR LONGER THAN I HAVE WILL HELP ME EXPLAIN TO CANADIANS HOW THE MAIN ESTIMATES AND THE ESTIMATE PROCESS WORKS IN GOVERNMENT BUDGETING. SO THIS LAPSED FUNDING IS ACTUALLY YOU JUST PART OF THE ESTIMATES PROCESS WHERE THE GOVERNMENT HAS TO MAKE AN ESTIMATE OF HOW MANY VETERANS WILL TAKE ADVANTAGE OF PROGRAMS IN A GIVEN YEAR GIVEN HOW MANY VETERANS THERE ARE, AND HOW MANY WILL ACTUALLY COME TO YOUR DOOR AND ACCESS IT. THE CRITICAL PART TO REMEMBER, THESE BENEFITS ARE BASICALLY STATUTORY ALLOCATIONS, EVAN, WHETHER THERE IS TEN VETERANS THAT WALK THROUGH THE DOOR OR 10,000, IF THEY ARE ELIGIBLE, THEY WILL GET THEM. AND THAT'S NOT DISCRETIONARY. THAT'S PART OF THE STATUTORY ALLOCATIONS UNDER THERE. EACH YEAR THE DEPARTMENT PROVIDES AN ESTIMATE PROCESS WHERE THEY TRY TO SAY HOW MANY VETERANS WILL TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE PROGRAMS RANGING FROM HOUSING AND THE VETERANS INDEPENDENCE PROGRAM THROUGH TO SEVERAL HUNDRED MILLION DEDICATED TO RETRAINING AND EDUCATION OF VETERANS AND YOU ALWAYS YOU HAVE TO PLAN IN THE ESTIMATES FOR AS MANY AS YOU THINK WILL TAKE ADVANTAGE. IF THEY DON'T REACH THAT, THAT'S WHERE YOU SEE THE GAP. IT'S NOT MONEY THAT DIDN'T GO OUT THE DOOR. IT WAS PLANNING FOR EVERYONE.

YOU KNOW THE CRITICISM IS THAT EVERY SINGLE PROGRAM HAS TONS OF LAPSED SPENDING NOT JUST FOR VETERANS. WANTED TO BALANCE THE BOOKS FOR 2015. SOME MIGHT SAY Mr. O TOOL I APPRECIATE THE LESSON ON LEDGERS BUT YOU CLOSE NINE VETERANS AFFAIRS OFFICES, THAT MONEY COULD HAVE BEEN USED TO KEEP THOSE OFFICES OPEN TO HELP SOME VETERANS WHO WERE ON THIS PROGRAM, SOME IN TEARS BECAUSE THEY COULDN'T GET THE SERVICES. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THEM WHEN YOU SAY WELL, THERE IS MONEY THERE BUT WE HE COULDN'T SPEND IT.

WE ARE SPENDING MORE. SPENDING IT IN NEW WAYS. TALK ABOUT THE NINE OFFICES THAT WERE NOT BEING USED. WE OPENED 17 OPERATIONAL CLINIC AND THE SERVICE CANADA NETWORK OF OFFICES HAVE THE SAME LEVEL OF ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT THAT THE OLD STAND-ALONE OFFICES USE. SO WE ARE IN A POSITION WHERE WE HAVE VETERANS IN THEIR 20s AND 30s. WE ALSO HAVE WORLD WAR II AND KOREAN VETERANS IN THEIR 80s AND 90s. WE HAVE TO EVOLVE SERVICES SO WE SERVE YOUNG VETERANS AND THE ODE VETERANS. WE ARE ESTIMATING MORE AND WE ARE SPENDING MORE BUT THE OPPOSITION THIS WEEK HAVE BEEN PLAYING ABSOLUTE GAMES ON IT. USING BENEFITS IF THEY QUALIFY, THE VETERANS WILL GET THE BENEFITS.

Evan: Mr. JULIAN, LET ME HEAR FROM YOU FIRST. DO YOU BUY THESE ARE BASICALLY PROGRAMS NO ONE IS USING?

VETERANS WILL TELL YOU, AND AT REMEMBRANCE DAY I WAS LIKE MOST MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT WITH MY VETERANS FROM MY RIDING AND THEY ARE INCENSED AT THIS GOVERNMENT'S ATTITUDE. CLOSE TO NINE VETERAN AFFAIRS OFFICES CLOSED. CUT BACKS TO VETERANS HOSPITALS. I EXPERIENCED THAT IN MY OWN RIDING. SEEN AS WELL THAT MOST OF THE DISABLED VETERANS CAN'T EVEN ACCESS DISABILITY BENEFITS THAT THEY SHOULD BE PROVIDED WITH. GOT VETS DENIED HEARING AIDS. IT IS ABSURD WHAT IS HAPPENING OUT THERE. IT IS A NATIONAL SHAME AND IT'S BECAUSE WE HAVE A GOVERNMENT THAT LOVES TO PLAY THESE LITTLE FINANCIAL GAMES RATHER THAN PROVIDING SERVICES TO VETERANS AND I THINK MOST CANADIANS ARE APPALLED BY THE ATTITUDE OF THIS GOVERNMENT. Evan: CAN YOU COMMENT ON THIS. I WILL READ A QUOTE FROM SOMEONE IN THE DEPARTMENT TO US. THE VARIANTS BETWEEN PLANNED SPENDING AND ACTUAL SPENDING IN 13/14 IS ATTRIBUTED TO THE FACT THAT TRADITIONAL VETERANS NUMBERS ARE DECLINING. SOME OF THE OLDER VETS SADLY ARE DIEING. WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THAT ARGUMENT? THAT'S SPEAK. IT'S THE GOVERNMENT TRYING TO SPIN A LINE WHAT WE ARE SEEING MONEY THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ALLOCATED TO VETERANS AND DENIED TOE VETERANS AND VETERANS ARE SUFFERING. SAW VETERANS IN FRONT OF PARLIAMENT HILL SELLING T-SHIRTS TO TRY TO GET ENOUGH MONEY TO PROVIDE SOME SERVICES FOR THEMSELVES. IT IS A NATIONAL SHAME AND THIS GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF ITSELF AND PROVIDING THOSE BENEFITS TO VETERANS.

WHERE ARE YOU ON THIS?

FIRST OF ALL, EVAN, YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT WE AT THE VETERANS COMMITTEE COMPLETED A REPORT AND THAT REPORT PROVIDED FOR 14 RECOMMENDATIONS THAT REQUIRED THE GOVERNMENT TO MOVE ON VETERANS BENEFITS, PAYMENT FOR PAIN AND SUFFERING, FAMILY SUPPORT, PTSD COUNSELLING AND WE HAD A UNANIMOUS REPORT, AND THAT WAS SENT TO THE MINISTER, THE MINISTER PROMISED THAT HE WOULD EMBRACE THAT REPORT, AND NOT ONE PENNY, NOT ONE MENTION OF VETERANS IN THE RECENT FEDERAL FALL BUDGET UPDATE, NOT ONE DISCUSSION ABOUT IT, NOT A CENT TO VETERANS AND THIS PLACE IS LIKE A REVOLVING DOOR WHEN IT COMES TO VETERANS WHO ARE BEGGING FOR MONEY. THEY ARE DISAPPOINTED. THEY ARE LET DOWN. KNOW THEY HAVE BEEN HOODWINKED BY THIS GOVERNMENT WHO HAS DECIDED TO BALANCE THE GOVERNMENT ON THEIR BACKS. I VISITED ONE OF THOSE VETERANS' COMMUNITIES WHERE THE VAC OFFICE WAS CLOSED IN BRANDON, MANITOBA. THEY HAVE TO TRAVEL TWO HOURS TO GET --

THAT'S NOT TRUE.

YES, IT IS TRUE. GET TO WINNIPEG. TO GET SERVICES.

UNDERSTAND THAT BETTER. THEY CAN BE SERVED AT SHILO.

SHAME THE MINISTER INTO MAKING A PAYMENT TO A VETERAN FROM CHARLOTTETOWN WHO WAS PROMISED $750 FOR COUNSELLING SUFFERING FROM PTSD AND IT HAVE DENIED HIM. THINK ABOUT THE ONES WHO DON'T CALL THEIR MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT TO STAND UP AND SHAME THE MINISTER TO MAKE THE STATEMENT.

FRANK IS INCORRECT ACTUALLY. I HAVE BEEN TO BRANDON AS WELL. THE BASE BY BRANDON, CFB SHILO HAS A JOINT PERSONNEL SUPPORT UNIT. IN RECENT YEARS WE ALLOWED VETERANS TO BE SERVED AT NEARBY BASES AS WELL. THAT'S IN ADDITION TO THE SERVICE CANADA OFFICE IN BRANDON, WHICH IS IN THE SAME BUILDING FOR BASIC ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT, MORE DETAILED SUPPORT FOR THE MILITARY BASE. Evan: A LOT OF DETAILS HERE. ON THE OVERALL QUESTION, Mr. O TOOL, THE PUBLIC SERVICE ALLIANCE OF CANADA TABLED A DEMAND FOR MORATORIUM ON PROGRAM AND BUDGET CUTS AT VETERANS AFFAIRS. I KNOW THE GOVERNMENT SAYS IT SPENT MORE MONEY SINCE '06 ON VETERANS AFFAIRS. HAS BEEN CUTS SO THERE COULD BE BALANCED BOOKS. WOULD YOU HAVE A MORATORIUM TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU COULD ACTUALLY MEET YOUR MANDATE BECAUSE NOW YOU HAVE VETERANS WHO SAY THEIR NEEDS AREN'T BEING MET. YOU KNOW THESE ARGUMENTS. NOW A BILLION DOLLARS GONE TO LAPSE SPENDING. THE BUDGET OF THE DEPARTMENT HAS A BEEN CUT. AND YOU HAVE GOT VETERANS, YOU HAVE GOT COUNSELLORS WHO NEED -- FOR PTSD, THEY HAVEN'T BEEN HIRED. YOU KNOW ALL THE CRITICISMS ON THIS. WHY NOT THEN PUT A STOP TO THE CUTS AND GET SOME ANALYSIS IF YOU NEED THAT BILLION DOLLARS.

EVAN, I HAVE GOT TO CORRECT YOU ON A COUPLE OF THINGS THERE. THERE HAVE NOT BEEN CUTS. WE ARE SPENDING DIFFERENTLY AND THIS LAPSED FUNDING IS NOT -- HAS NOT LAPSED.

THERE HAVE BEEN CUTS.

MATTER OF THE ESTIMATE VERSUS WHAT IS SPENT. IF YOU LOOK AT ACTUAL WHAT IS SPENT, INVITE EVERYBODY TO LOOK $30 BILLION SPENT SINCE WE FORMED GOVERNMENT, THAT'S ABOUT $5 BILLION MORE THAN WOULD HAVE BEEN SPENT USING THE SAME INCREASES THAT THE PREVIOUS LIBERAL GOVERNMENT WAS DOING. NOW WE ARE SPENDING IT DIFFERENT, HE HAVE HE AN, BECAUSE WE DO HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO MAKE SURE THAT THE NEEDS OF NEW VETERANS, NEW VETERANS FROM AFGHANISTAN ARE SERVED AS WELL AS THE WORLD WAR II AND KOREAN WAR VETERANS AVERAGE AGE OF THAT COHORT IS 88 AND THAT'S THE MAIN REASON WHY WE ARE SEEING A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE ESTIMATES AND THE SPENDING.

REAL QUICK, Mr. JULIAN.

EVAN, WHAT WE ARE SEEING IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE SERVICES THAT SHOULD BE PROVIDED TO VETERANS AND THE SERVICES THAT ARE NOT BEING PROVIDED TO VETERANS. CUTS IN VETERANS HOSPITALS, IN DISABILITY BENEFITS, HALF OF THE VETERANS THAT HAVE DISABILITIES AREN'T EVEN GET THE BENEFIT AND THE ONES THAT ARE ARE GETTING THE LOWEST LEVEL POSSIBLE. POVERTY LEVEL RATES. WE ARE SEEING A WHOLE RANGE OF SERVICES INCLUDING CUTS TO THOUSAND SUPPORT PERSONNEL THAT SHOULD BE PROVIDING SOME SERVICES TO VETERANS. THIS IS A NATIONAL CALAMITY. IT'S A NATIONAL TRAGEDY YOU. THE VETERANS ARE AWARE OF IT. I THINK THE PUBLIC IS BECOMING AWARE OF IT. WHAT THIS GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE DOING INSTEAD OF SPINNING APOLOGIZING TO VETERANS AND RESTORING THE FUNDING.

HUNDREDS OF MENTAL HEALTHCARE WORKERS NOT HIRED AT THE EXPENSE OF OUR VETERANS. NINE VETERANS OFFICES CLOSED TO SAVE $5 MILLION. THEY SPENT $4 MILLION IN THE PLAYOFFS IN THE SPRING FOR SELF PROMOTION ADVERTISING. SELF PROMOTION. FOR A PROGRAM THAT THEY SPENT $298,000 ON. THAT WAS IT ON CAREER TRANSITION SERVICES.

BECAUSE WE DON'T HAVE ENOUGH COMING FORWARD TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE PROGRAM.

(INDISCERNIBLE).

THEY ARE NOT. WHEN THEY DON'T, IT'S FOR A REASON. Evan: AS I UNDERSTAND IT, JUST ON A FACT CHECK, Mr. O'TOOLE, I THINK $226 MILLION CUT FROM VETERANS AFFAIRS BUDGET.

IF YOU LOOK BETWEEN 2006 --

AND SERVICES ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

2006 TO TODAY ABOUT 800 MILLION MORE THAN WHAT WE FORMED GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT.

I APPRECIATE -- SORRY, YOU ARE RIGHT. IF THE BASELINE IS 2006 THERE HAS BEEN AN INCREASE. BUT SINCE THOSE INCREASES IN THE LAST THREE YEARS, YOU HAVE ACTUALLY CUT DEPARTMENTAL SPENDING. THAT'S FAIR TO SAY, WITH RIGHT INTO.

NO. IT'S NOT ACTUALLY. IF YOU LOOK AT THE TIME PERIOD FROM WHEN WE TOOK GOVERNMENT, WHEN THE BUDGET WAS ABOUT 2.6 OR $7 BILLION TO WHERE IT IS NOW, JUST A LITTLE SHY OF FOUR, THAT'S INCREMENTALLY LED TO A DIFFERENCE, A HIGHER AMOUNT OF SPENDING BETWEEN WHAT THE LIBERALS HAVE BEEN SPENDING, ABOUT $5 BILLION. A TOTAL OF 30 BILLION SPENT IN VETERANS CARE. MOST OF THE BENEFITS EVAN AND WHY THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE ESTIMATES IS BECAUSE THERE IS NOT AS MANY VETERANS COMING FORWARD FOR RETRAINING, RE-EDUCATION. THAT'S THE REASON WE ARE RUNNING THE AD.

THAT'S NOT THE CASE AT ALL.

WE PROVIDE FOR MORE PEOPLE COMING FORWARD TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THESE PROGRAMS.

VETERANS ARE LIVE AND I HAD IT'S FOR GOOD REASON. SPIN MAKES THINGS WORSE.

WE DON'T HAVE HOSPITALS LIKE PETER IS SAYING. SHOWS THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND THESE ISSUES. Evan: DO OUR REALITY CHECK LATER IN THE PROGRAM ON CUTS OR NO CUTS. WE'LL GET AN ANSWER ON THAT. ALWAYS GREAT TO HAVE YOU THREE GENTLEMEN ON THE PROGRAM. THANKS SO MUCH.

THANK YOU.

COMING UP THE POWER OF SNOW. BUFFALO. MAN, WHAT IS GOING ON THERE. IT IS BUCKLING UNDER. LOOK AT THIS SNOW. HEAVY BLAST OF SNOW. EIGHT FEET OF SNOW. THAT'S RIGHT. THEY STILL CALL IT EIGHT FEET IN HOW ARE THE RESIDENTS AND EMERGENCY CREWS COPING? WE'LL GET THE LATEST FROM CBC'S HAVARD GOULD. HE IS ON THE GROUND, I THINK UP TO NINE PEOPLE HAVE DIED NOW. STAY WITH US.