OTTAWA – Official Opposition Veterans Affairs Critic Peter Stoffer (Sackville-Eastern Shore) raised concerns today about the transfer of the last remaining federally run veterans’ hospital in Canada to the province of Quebec in terms of its impacts on veterans’ care and Department of Veterans Affairs employees. Stoffer was joined by Yvan Thauvette, President of the Union of Veterans Affairs Employees.

“Last week we heard that the Department of Veterans Affairs was planning to cut about 500 employees because of budget-trimming exercise,” said Stoffer. “But we are now hearing that these cuts might be much deeper as over 1,295 Veterans Affairs employees will no longer be federal employees with the impending transfer of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Hospital to the province of Quebec. That means that quite possibly Veterans Affairs Canada may be losing up to forty percent of its staff.”

“The impacts of these cuts on the Department and veterans and their families will be huge,” said Stoffer. “You simply cannot maintain the same standard of care or programs and services with forty percent less staff.”

Stoffer also noted that the federal government has a responsibility to provide specialized health care services to veterans as part of its moral obligation to those who accepted the condition of unlimited liability in the service of Canada.

“Instead of closing down these facilities and transferring veterans’ hospital care over to the provinces, I have urged the federal government to move quickly to expand access and turning these facilities into Veterans Health Care Centres of Excellence for use by all Canadian Forces and RCMP veterans and their families.”

“I have urged the federal government to broaden the eligibility of veterans who may be admitted to veterans’ long term care beds and facilities. Unfortunately, Veterans Affairs has created this class system of veterans that allows some veterans to be admitted to a veterans’ hospital or long-term care facility and some who are not. We need a new model that follows the principles of “One Veteran, One Standard.”