The Harper government never passes up an opportunity to boast how it supports the troops but, when it comes to veterans, that seems to be mainly hot air.
NDP defence critic Peter Stoffer says the Tories have failed to act on his motion passed last fall to improve veterans' benefits:
The motion directed the government to make five reforms: eliminate the “gold-digger” clause to allow spouses access to survivor benefits if they marry a Forces retiree after age 60; extend Veterans Independence Program home-care services to all widows and widowers of veterans; stop the reduction of long-term disability benefits faced by veterans released from the military for medical reasons; increase the survivor pension amount for veterans’ spouses to 66 per cent from 50 per cent; and end the clawback of service pensions for veterans who receive the Canada Pension.
Mr. Stoffer said the improvements would help about 400,000 veterans and spouses and would cost Ottawa between $800 million and $1.2 billion a year.
He pointed out that Stephen Harper’s government had a total surplus of about $23 billion in its first two budgets.