North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney called on the government to cancel outsourced veterans affairs contracts, which she called “another example on a long list of disastrous Liberal outsourcing.”
Blaney was joined by Union of Veterans Affairs Employees (UVAE) president Virginia Vaillancourt in calling for the cancellation of the contracts, after a report was tabled showing how the contracts have affected veterans.
Last summer, the Minister of Veterans Affairs agreed to outsource veterans’ rehabilitation services to a private company owned in part by Loblaws – the contracts total more than $560 million.
The contracts are with Partners in Canadian Veterans Rehabilitation Services (PCVRS), a collaboration between Loblaw-owned Lifemark Health Services and WCG International Consultants Ltd. (which is owned by Australia-based ABM Industries) and instead use the public service.
“What’s happened over the last year at Veteran’s Affairs is another example on a long list of disastrous a outsourcing,” said Blaney. “While the Liberals cozy up to their rich CEO friends, Canada’s veterans have paid the price.
“Veterans who fought for our country now can’t access the mental health and rehabilitation supports that they need and deserve. It’s time for these outsourcing contracts to be scrapped.”
An NDP release says that veterans have seen backlogs, confusing processes, slow delivery and the inability to get services.
“The company that the minister selected received hundreds of millions of dollars despite not being ready, and veterans are being forced to re-share their experiences and trauma with a company without service delivery experience,” the release says.
According to UVAE, the contract is 25 per cent more expensive than if the ministry had hired more case workers.
Blaney said that the problem stemmed back further than the current Liberal government, adding that the backlog started during the previous Conservative administration due in part to the closure of nine Veterans Affairs offices.
“Consecutive Liberal and Conservative governments have gladly enlisted people to protect our country, but the minute our veterans retire or leave service, they’re neglected. It’s shameful,” said Blaney. “Now, the government is negligently handing out contracts to private companies – at the heart of which is profit-making, not service delivery. New Democrats will always put veterans before companies’ profits. That’s why I’m fighting to see these contracts thrown out and instead invest the money into our public service.”