By W.A. Henry
The Harper government is about to implement unique services solely for P.E.I. veterans that will allow them to join thelineups with EI and other applicants at Service Canada Centres. Only Island veterans will be granted this 'distinct' privilege as P.E.I. will soon become the only Canadian province without either a district office or Armed Forces base to process veterans' applications.
Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) considers veterans to be "Canada's national heroes" and is determined to orient management mandates and objectives to ensure their needs are serviced. P.E.I. veteranswill truly be unique in this system and will be subject to unspecified special consideration now that the province is to be the only Canadian province without district level access to the federal level of Veterans Affairs Canada management machinations.
P.E.I. Senator Mike Duffy (Cavendish) recently advised the press and praised the details of these unspecified butdistinct services when he dropped in to join two Legion members for a photoopportunity in front of the Charlottetown branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.
Duffy assured Island veterans that Service Canada Centre employees have received special training skills to process their applications. Is it to be assumed that due to privacy of information, and security, these skills would probably include pointing to the direct line telephones to the Harper government's national call centre (Kirkland Lake, Ont.) for reply to questions veterans may pose?
If the veteran is computer-oriented, 'in office' computers would be cleared of EI applications, immigration queries and other Canada Services input sources and made available to the veteran to submit their queries to unknown and unidentified resources in Veterans Affairs Canada for a specialized management reply within the Veterans Affairs Canada support mandate.
Veterans Affairs Canada emphasizes the department's stance that veterans are Canada's "national heroes" and all departmental members are there solely to ensure their needs are met.
However, the recent experience of some of these "national heroes" who have utilized the Harper's government's national call centre service included a 27-minute wait and the helpful assistance, once the operator answered, of requesting the veteran to provide a Veterans Affairs Canada file number, name and telephone number and, if the person asked for wished to be spoken to, the call would be returned and, contact would be made.
Duffy was not available to accept the invitation of CBC Island Morning to discuss the merits of these program changes with a local Island veteran who has questioned the positive viability of the changes. However, Duffy strongly praised the new management initiatives in The Guardian and referred to those who question the wisdom and accessibility of the changes as "fear mongers".
W.A. Henry of Charlottetown is a retired veteran with 35 years service in Canadian Army (Combat Arms). He is also a graduate of Prince of Wales College, Dalhousie University and Canadian Forces Staff College.