By Tyler Hooper
On May 30, 2017, the Trudeau government released details of “enhanced support” for Canadian military members and veterans with Budget 2017.
In a press release, Budget 2017 is described as “a comprehensive package that recognizes the important role of caregivers, helps more families, supports mental health and pays for the education and training veterans need to find the work they want in their post-military lives.”
Budget 2017 also includes the expansion of the Veteran Family Program, which was initially a trial program at the Military and Family Resource Centre (MFRC) at CFB Esquimalt, to all 32 MFRCs across Canada. In addition, a new Caregiver Recognition Benefit could give $1,000/month to the person who cares for a veteran in their home, and the Education and Training Benefit will offer up to $80,000 in financial support for veterans towards “achieving their education and future post-military employment goals through college, university or technical education.”
Kent Hehr, Minister of Veteran Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, said in a press release in reference to Budget 2017 that “not enough was being done to support families and caregivers who have supported veterans. I believe our new supports and initiatives will do more to ensure that veterans and their families receive more of the help they need.”
Some specifics and details from Budget 2017:
$133.9-million dedicated over six years to create the new Veterans’ Education and Training Benefit. Vets with six years of service could be eligible for up to $40,000, while vets with 12 years of service, $80,000.
A rethinking of the current Career Transition Services program, which would include a current expansion of who is eligible, removal of time limits to access benefits and a potential simplification of the application process.
$4-million dedicated to the creation of a Veteran Emergency Fund to help VAC address urgent veteran issues
$13.9-million over the course of four years to create a Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund for developing new initiatives to support veterans and their families with financial support to organizations — including non-profit, voluntary and for-profit — to conduct research on projects and initiatives to do with veterans.
Create a new Centre of Excellence in veterans’ care that would specialize in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mental health issues related to veterans.
In early June, the federal government also announced a new defence policy that will see $198-million spent on “health and wellness” for injured Canadian military members and Canadian veterans. As part of this, the money will help fund a new 1,200-person Canadian Forces Transition Group that will be dedicated to helping soldiers and veterans with PTSD and psychological injuries. These announcements come at a time when the Trudeau government is hoping to make good on its promises to take better care of its military members and veterans.