Statement on Vimy Ridge Day

Over a century ago, four Canadian divisions began one of the most remarkable offenses in our military history, the Battle of Vimy Ridge, which is widely regarded as a defining moment in Canadian history. Within those few days, 3,598 Canadians were killed, contributing to the escalating body count as the war dragged on into its third year. By the end of the First World War, around 61,000 Canadians lost their lives, each leaving behind their broken families and shattering their youthful dreams.

Ghosts of Vimy Ridge depicts ghosts of the Canadian Corps on Vimy Ridge surrounding the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. — Painted by Will Longstaff, 1931.

None of this even speaks to wounds and trauma that the survivors brought with them back to Canada, whether it was post-traumatic stress disorder, gunshot wounds, or chemical gas burns. These Canadians came from every walk of life, from the maritime city of Halifax, to the farms of Saskatchewan, to the Anishinaabe communities of northern Ontario. It was a shared collective tragedy for our nation and veterans received support from the federal government for the first time. For over a century, we have been moving forward towards better quality care over our veterans, but there is much to do.

Within the Green Party, we have pioneered compassionate and just policies that aim to elevate the broader livelihood of those who have served or are serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. The policies include the re-implementation of periodic payments of veterans to pre-2006 levels, the expansion of mental health services and disability support to current military service members and veterans, and the streamlining of institutional processes relevant to veteran lives (like the Veterans Review and Appeal Board).

Our campaign will build on these policy objectives and continue to work with veterans to give them the respect and dignity they deserve by:

Developing a comprehensive approach to homelessness

  • Invest in support for veterans and their families to address problems with substance abuse, mental health issues, and other challenges in transition from the military to civilian life;
  • Adopt a housing first approach to ensure veterans and their families have access to clean, safe affordable housing;
  • Implement harm reduction practices including improved access to addiction and mental health treatments in addition to income support;
  • Implement a transition period prior to official discharge to ensure the comprehensive needs of veterans are taken care of by the respective ministries and support organizations before individuals lose the security that comes with being an active member.

Developing an integrated mental health strategy

  • Recognize that PTSD doesn’t just affect the veteran but it affects their family as well
  • Develop a suicide prevention strategy, including reduction of wait times for active service members and Veterans seeking help, provide mental health education, counselling and training, and destignmatize mental health in the military and Veteran community
  • Invest in research to better understand the causes, impact of and treatment of operational stress injuries and mental health in the Veteran community
  • Implement the recommendations of the Standing Committee on National Security and Defense on the use of cannabis as a treatment for PTSD

Providing life-long financial support for veterans and their families

  • Implement the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs recommendations relating to health, transition, and other services for veterans including providing members who no longer meet universality of service requirements support for transition to civilian life and not forcibly discharging them
  • Reinstate the Family Caregiver Relief Benefit, providing respite for families caring for a disabled Veteran
  • Expand the Military/Veteran Family Services Program to make services available to all Veterans and their families, not just ill and injured Veterans
  • Increase the Earnings Loss Benefit (ELB) to provide 100% of pre-release income for life based on the projected career earnings of a Canadian Forces Member
  • Provide financial compensation, support, education, and training to enable a family member to become a primary caregiver
  • Eliminate the marriage after 60 claw back so that surviving spouses of Veterans who happen to be married after the age of 60 still receive the pension and health benefits they deserve
  • Streamline access to long term disability and vocational rehabilitation programs to ensure all Veterans have easy access to rehabilitation and income support

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