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'A lack of leadership': Military, RCMP veterans calling for change to Veterans Affairs Canada


Military and RCMP veterans are calling for changes to Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) – a message that was made clear during a rally in Dartmouth, N.S., on Thursday.

“This is about a lack of leadership inside the department and within the government of Canada,” says veteran Dennis Manuge.

Prince Edward Island Member of Parliament Lawrence MacAulay became Veterans Affairs Minister in 2019. Manuge says, in that time, access to services has declined for veterans.

“The minister has lost the confidence of both veterans and his own employees. It’s time for the minister to resign and step aside," Manuge says.

Those at the rally say, since 2007, they have been promised by the federal government that wait times for physical and mental health services would be addressed. Rollie Lawless, who attended Thursday's rally, says many are still struggling to access the help they need.

“Benefits and services are accessible but again, if you’re in the system already, it’s not hard. It’s those trying to get into the system that seems to be the hiccup, the initial applications for the initial wait times," Lawless says.

Part of the blame is being put on the privatization of veterans services.

In July of 2021, the federal government awarded a multi-year contract to Lifemark Health Group to provide rehabilitation and vocational assistance. A year later, Lifemark was purchased by Loblaws.

“By transferring services over to Lifemark, means that Lifemark has to make a profit. That means millions and millions of dollars that should be going into benefits for veterans will now be going into the private pocket of Galen Weston and his subsidiary companies,” says Peter Stoffer of the Veterans Legal Assistance Fund.

Other concerns include Veterans Affairs Canada staff offering medical assisted deaths to at least four veterans and the unspent billions of dollars set aside for veterans' services.

“When you have $2 billion since 2006 of lapse funding not spent and you want to know why, you have problems,” says Stoffer.

Problems that are prompting this group of veterans to speak out. Top Stories

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