More support for P.E.I. veterans

Dave Stewart dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on March 26, 2016

Korean War veteran Stewart Grady, a military man of more than 30 years, watches as the parade marches past during Remembrance Day ceremonies Wednesday in Summerside at Credit Union Place’s Eastlink Arena. More than 3,200 people attended.

©Nancy MacPhee/TC Media

Island MPs say decision to re-open service office in Charlottetown only part of commitment

Charlottetown MP Sean Casey says the decision to re-open the veterans' service office is only part of government's commitment to those who have served.

Casey said Wednesday that new case managers will also be hired.

"By re-opening veterans' service centres that were previously closed, expanding the number of case managers and increasing financial support for veterans, this budget seeks to serve those who have served us,'' Casey said.

There has been no word yet on when the Charlottetown office will re-open.

Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay said the impact of re-opening the office will be felt outside the capital area as well.

"I was fully aware of what the office itself means to the economy, not only of Charlottetown but central P.E.I. as well,'' MacAulay said. "There are people east of St. Peters and west of Summerside that work there. It puts money into an awful lot of homes on Prince Edward Island; it's an essential service for our veterans.''

The budget also delivers $3.7 billion this fiscal year for better programs and services for the most critically injured military members.

Island municipalities are also anxiously waiting for the process to start in regards to federal infrastructure money. Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee said Tuesday the 2016 construction season could be lost if the application process doesn't start soon.

MacAulay said there is $120 billion coming over the next decade and he believes it will start rolling soon.

"I have lots to do to push and make sure it happens, but it will flow. It will create (economic) activity.''

The Cardigan MP also highlights changes to old age security and guaranteed income supplement (GIS), which will see the ages of eligibility revert back to 65. He said the GIS has been increased by 10 per cent.

Egmont MP Robert Morrissey points to government's commitment to Islanders receiving employment insurance benefits.

"This includes reducing the waiting period from two weeks to one, eliminating the 930-hour qualifying requirement for new entrants and re-entrants and offering EI claimants the option of returning to the previous rules for working while on claim,'' Morrissey said, adding that there is a further investment of $90 million in Service Canada to provide faster claims processing.

Malpeque MP Wayne Easter said many of the changes in the budget came from in-depth testimony before the standing committee on finance, of which he is chairman.

The committee heard from 92 witnesses and received 175 written proposals.

"Our committee made 56 recommendations, a number of which are reflected in this budget,'' Easter said.

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart