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A Lack of Clear Mandates Draws

Ste. Annes Veterans Hospital into


Questions
“A Culture of Refusal”
April 7th, 2010 The Legion in Hudson opened a general meeting with Vaudreuil-Soulanges Deputy, MP
Meili Faille, the President of the UVAE, and members active in the Ste. Anne de Bellevue
Veterans'Hospital. The discussion opened as another update on the transfer to Quebec provincial
jurisdiction; something currently not being negotiated, excepting on principle. "We had to give Mr.
Blackburn some time with his new portfolio, as he was reassigned January 18th" said Faille, as he had
been one of the Ministers involved with the cabinet re-shuffle enacted by the Prime Minister during his
most recent Proroguation of Parliament.

The Right Honorable Mr. Blackburn, who was issued an invitation to the event, was not in attendance.

There were facts to be had, however, as negotiator for the Federal Government will be Richard Neville,
A Fellow of the Order of Chartered Accountants Quebec, the province to date has yet to name his
provincial counterpart for the negotiations. Ms. Faille also revealed that there was apparently in Mr.
Blackburn's possession a mandate to 'direct and refine' the negotiations, though none of the other
members of parliament or the Union of Veterans' Affairs Employees had seen it, or been informed of
what exactly was to be in it. But as far as they knew, this our government representative and the Head
of an Employee's union, it was indeed signed.

When the floor opened to questions, few were actually about the Transfer itself, and quickly became
more focused on the general policy of admissions and administration. Faille assured those who asked
that the Administration currently engaged would stay active as an independent entity within the
provincial system after the Transfer, allowing for a smoother transition for patients and staff. She also
assured that the continuation of the Bilingual status of the Hospital would also be a high priority. "We
want the hospital maintain the service, qualities and priorities it has always had" Faille added, as a
working autonomy over Quebec Provincial control in the Lakeshore system will also mean a more
localized decision making process, including the umbrella of law and regulation. The Language issue

Jeff Casselman,®2010 – Published on ISSUU.com – hudson.ning.com


is a concern, being a National Assembly law that transcends everything in Quebec Society - even
constitutional rights to freedom of expression. She stopped short of saying this would have to be
legislated in the National Assembly, however.

When asked what she thought the negotiating intentions of the Government were, she said simply
"they'll have it closed." I took this to mean the deal. In the Transfer deal there are rumored to be plans
for a new Federal PTSD wing, which may or may not be temporary.

Some however were echoing the sentiment of a recent press release by Rob Oliphant , MP for Don
Valley West and Liberal Veterans Affairs critic: "There is a waiting list, and still there's an entire wing
of the Hospital closed...how does that make sense?" stated an administrative officer from the Hospital.

Also called into question were the requisites of a Veteran's admission to the Hospital: "As it is now you
have to be on a Medical Pension to even gain admission" one attendee noted. The New Veteran's
Charter issued by the VAC was also cited for it's lack of inclusive terminology concerning the
definition of active soldiers: "as it is now, if you served in Korea or in a UN peacekeeping role, you do
not qualify for a 'Veteran' Status" said one man. Faille produced a petition to correct the terminology
used in the initial draft of the new Veteran's Charter to be introduced in the House of Commons - on
their return from Easter Break. I have yet to read the new VAC charter, but you an see a copy of the
petition, available locally, on her webpage here. I would like to believe that those severely injured in
the Afghan War are not receiving a lump sum payout, “like everyone else”.

"I knew a Polish Pilot who served with the RCAF his whole life, he was denied veterans benefits here"
added one gentleman.

"The troubles all began after England paid off it's World War 2 debt to Canada and the US in
2003...now every country among the allies maintains the capacity to treat those soldiers who served in
the war with them, regardless of citizenship, excepting Canada that is." added another "It's a disgrace."
It does make you think; perhaps that kinship many countries in the world had in the after war glow of
peace is wearing off. It is a disgrace to those who served in combat for a national government to drop
you like a hot potato. It's definitely a disgrace for me as a tax payer.

Faille referred in this to the long standing, congruent cases of the "Lost Canadians", in which soldiers
who had served overseas for many consecutive years lost their legal Canadian citizenship in the
process, citing that cases of this were still happening. And here she broke from the subject to add a
sidebar "In my experience with the Employment Insurance Portfolio, I can tell you that this
government operates with a 'Refusal and Appeal' strategy in forming their policies".

Every case they lose, they appeal...it's a long process.

Jeff Casselman,®2010 – Published on ISSUU.com – hudson.ning.com


The Veterans Hospital, which beginning in 2001 received $70 million from the Federal Government
over the following 5 years for renovations which included an additional 180 rooms to add to the
existing 450 private and semi private rooms, and the addition of a thermal power plant to the building -
to bring the hospital in line with provincial standards. It is the last Federally Administered Hospital in
Canada.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Hospital is to tour the site on April 15th; and it was
noted that none of the surrounding Royal Canadian Legion Branches had been to date contacted to be
involved in the tour.

See Also

1. Greg Thompson: “Homeless Veterans”

Jeff Casselman,®2010 – Published on ISSUU.com – hudson.ning.com