Here is my interpretation of the section of the budget on services for veterans.
This budget ignores calls by veterans to reopen Veterans Affairs offices. The budget also ignores the shortage of front-line workers like case managers and client service agents available to provide in-person services to veterans.
Instead it announces $2.1 million to try to fix problems with ill-reputed online tools that many veterans can’t or simply won’t use.
This government is making it more difficult for veterans to access the services they need. Fixing a website isn’t going to make up for office closures and cuts to front-line workers who provided face-to-face services to veterans.
From the budget, page 232: “Providing Better Access to Veterans Affairs Canada’s Services Online,” Economic Action Plan 2014 proposes funding of $2.1 million in 2014-15 to improve My VAC Account, a web-based tool that provides information and access to Veterans Affairs Canada’s services, and allows veterans and their families to do routine business with the department.
“The government proposes to invest $2.1 million in 2014-15 to continue to enhance the way that veteran programs are delivered, by putting in place improved web-based tools that will provide veterans and their families with quicker access to the information and benefits that they need. The improved My VAC Account will offer a complete suite of online services that mimics services offered in-person, and will allow veterans to conduct business with Veterans Affairs Canada 24 hours a day, seven days a week from anywhere in the world.”
The whole budget is a failing grade, not only for the veterans but the people of Canada. One thing after another of no good news comes from them.
However, I must give my hats off to the finance minister not to balance the budget this year. It’s funny how we went from more than $50 billion to $2.9 billon in such a short time. I encourage the public to read the budget (it’s long but good) and see what this ruling party is truly saying about everything.
Canadians are asking questions about the office, which I find refreshing that the people are interested in this issue.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 14, 2014