Veterans minister on P.E.I. to battle misinformation

Nigel
Nigel Armstrong
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Veteran Affairs Minister Julian Fantino speaks to reporters in Charlottetown Wednesday night after he met a small group of veterans for about 60 minutes. He said he wanted to set the record straight because there is what he called misinformation in the media regarding the problems at Veterans Afairs Canada.

Julian Fantino says Island veterans don't have to leave to get service; DVA staff in Charlottetown number over 1,100 with no change in sight

Veterans will not have to travel off-Island to receive the help they deserve, says Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino.

He arrived in Charlottetown Wednesday for two days of meetings with staff of the national headquarters, and a hastily arranged meeting with a few veterans themselves.

On Tuesday his office contacted the Charlottetown branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, asking for a meeting with any interested veterans for the next day.

It was short notice, said Legion officials, but about 20 people attended, including Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee and MLA Richard Brown for an hour-long meeting Wednesday evening at the Legion home on Pownal Street.

Political parties, unions and veterans have been angry about the closure announced in May, 2012 of the Charlottetown district office. That closure is set to occur the end of this month.

It used to be the location for one-on-one meetings with Island veterans and DVA staff, something that is not part of the operations at the national headquarters in Charlottetown. Some worried Island veterans might now be required to travel to Saint John, N.B. for those meetings.

Not so, said Fantino.

“We try and speak to those most affected by some of these rumours and misinformation and miscommunications and some mischief-making, to set the record straight and to provide them with answers to their questions,” he said.

“They don’t have to travel. They don’t have to leave their homes,” said Fantino.

Staff with the minister told The Guardian that most veterans deal with a client service agent. A DVA-trained agent is now located in the Service Canada office in Charlottetown, the Jean Canfield building.

Some veterans require special attention and care, so have a case worker looking after their file.

Case workers travel to meet those veterans where they live, said staff.

“They don’t have to leave their home at all,” said Fantino of veterans assigned to a case worker. “They never have. They won’t have to in the future.

“We do everything from helping them with their house cleaning, cutting their grass, shovelling their snow,” he said.

“There are all kinds of services provide to veterans that possibly a lot of people that don’t know the system don’t appreciate, but veterans do.”

He had praise for the headquarters staff onP.EI., which numbers over 1,100 even after some 230 job titles are being phased out following the 2012 federal budget.

““Things aren’t always perfect but for the most part they need to know that their service is known and appreciated by veterans and their families but also by the government and Canadian people as well,” said Fantino of DVA staff.

Bill Toussaint is a member of the Charlottetown Legion who attended the meeting with Fantino. He served with the army as a radar technician with two tours in the Middle East.

Toussaint notes that changes to the system now mean marriage partners and families of veterans receive no benefits once the veteran dies, unlike a previous system.

He wants that and other changes to what is called the Veterans Charter.

“It’s hard to say if they are going to do anything,” said Toussaint. “If he does any action while he’s in office, we will wait and see.”

NArmstrong@TheGuardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/NigelPEI

 

Organizations: Veterans Affairs, Royal Canadian Legion, The Guardian Service Canada Veterans Charter

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Iceland, Saint John

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Recent comments

  • candrayo
    January 17, 2014 - 01:08

    It makes me pause and ponder if this conversation in the comment section regarding Veterans will cause as much debate as I have seen on much less serious topics in the past in this paper. I encourage people to stop looking at the symptom and look at the larger picture. Society is under a larger umbrella of Mental Illness than most are aware of…….Please consider a Veteran and TRY to imagine what his or her perspective is and how he is being treated by his fellow man after he or she chose to sacrifice self in the most unimaginable way so you could sit here and ponder this too! Right now Veterans need remembrance day EVERYDAY…we need people to help us now! I am not pleading for me…I have found my help…I am pleading for every other Veteran out there suffering! I remember the most basic concept I learned in the military and try hard to process the negative concepts one day at a time. But I will never forget that we are only as strong as our weakest soldier. We were all soldiers…we need to stand together….everyone of us alive in our society today are soldiers…it is time we stand beside one another. Please ponder a little harder on what Veterans deserve and let the conversation start somewhere…January 28th….text and talk….Mental Awareness is needed!

  • Jordie Yeo
    January 16, 2014 - 19:28

    Yes this is true that there is someone to help at service Canada for the first 3 months. Then there is no one there to help the Vets. What happens then? Also there is no place to sit out away from people when there is a crises. So what then??

  • Walt
    January 16, 2014 - 16:06

    A DVA trained agent my ass. An agents whose job is do deny EI claims has been given a manual and pamphlets. These Case workers are now located off Island and will rarely visit the Veterans if ever! The cuts are not finished. Soon every person who answers the phone and identifies themselves as a Veterans Affairs employee will be at a contractors call centre or Service Canada.

  • don
    January 16, 2014 - 10:57

    misinformation yes it is from the liberals when they were in and now the pc's neither party cares for the vets. love to see them all in a war and see how fast they will be wanting mommy. not the easy war of today but in a war like WW1, WW2. where they did not have stoves to cook and nice beds etc but sleeping on the ground eating out of cans, and wearing the same uniform for weeks at a time.

    • Pete
      January 16, 2014 - 12:50

      Don, you are aware that the PC's ceased to exist as a federal party many years ago, don't you?

  • Moe
    January 16, 2014 - 10:27

    People must understand the Minister is first and foremost a Harperite to the core. His first and main function is to make his boss look like a hero. Sorry Mr. Minister you can't fool us...Blaming others for fear mongering is nothing but deflection ( a common trait with all Harperites). Maybe those "fear mongering" souls are just telling the truth which is something not permitted in the Harperite camp...

  • SMOKE AND MIRRORS
    January 16, 2014 - 07:59

    Another example of , try this explanation if you didn't agree with the others. We are still losing services and wives are losing benefits. That is not changing. One individual in Services Canada who will probably talk to veterans between discussions with people about EI and CPP. This will be the only province in Canada without a proper office for veterans. Other provinces have an over abundance of offices yet they feel they must close the ONLY OFFICE IN THE PROVINCE. so much for concern for PEI Veterans.

  • candrayo
    January 16, 2014 - 06:09

    We have a Military Family Resource Centre alive and well in PEI……but we can not have a Veterans Affairs Office available to US? This one strikes me as odd……….Yes I have home visits from my VA rep, and she is awesome….but I know at least one other person who has been out for the exact same reasons as me…and let's just say HE has not received the same kind of treatment I have! Not one visit…and he was out a year before me. I have had 3 visits….he has had NONE!!! We are both medically released for the same reasons. Our representation in VA has been consistently different with him getting the shitty end of the stick and I can not help but feel bad for having to let him know what he can and can't do instead of his rep doing it for him! It is so much harder for a man to ask for help than it is women…and this is making it that much harder for them!

  • vick
    January 16, 2014 - 05:22

    Once again the Tweels, the Mike Redmonds, Danny Redmonds mislead Charlottetown residents and veterans is how this article should read.........scare tactics unreal! Let me guess their going to now run around town telling all because of them the Veterans affairs is staying in Chtown lol what a bunch of clowns!

  • don
    January 16, 2014 - 04:34

    Julian Fantino. you and your government could care less for the veterns who faught and died so you can have a nice lazy big paying job. if i could i would have all our men and women come back and send you and the rest of the gang in ottawa to war and see how you like it. you all will find a way to stop the war due to you may have to work and get your butt shot off. the PC's and LIB done nothing to help our vets years ago and you are till doing nothing. but mr i hope when the next big war comes you are all alive to see it. it will be called WW3

  • Discrasefull
    January 16, 2014 - 00:22

    To take family benefits away means there will be less people in Canada willing to put their life on the line to protect us if they won't protect their family's if something happens to them. This Harper government is destroying Canada without any remorse.. The next election will prove how much Canada disagrees with their motives... Harper you are finished

    • Mel
      January 16, 2014 - 09:44

      Remember a few years ago Mt Harper said words to this effect. Elect me Prime Minister and in five years you will not recognize this country. I guess we did not believe him. He warned us but we did not listen. Perhaps we deserve what we are getting. We, after all, said in effect, go ahead Mr. Harper.