Veterans, ANAVETS, and volunteers of Moose Jaw’s Royal Canadian Legion Brand 59 had the opportunity for their voices to be heard at the first-ever Saskatchewan Veterans Roundtable discussion.
The roundtable discussion included guest appearances by MPs Blake Richards and Fraser Tolmie – who also sit on the federal government’s Veterans Affairs Committee.
Tolmie who is responsible for the Moose Jaw – Lake Centre – Lanigan riding says it was a great event, with several concerns brought to light – one of which is the $1 billion of unspent veterans funding.
“When I’m speaking with vets and they’re having problems accessing those funds, it’s a concern, so we’re trying to find where the stopgap is,” says Tolmie.
Funding application technicalities were another concern that was brought up by veterans to Tolmie and Richards at the discussion.
“They’re being rejected. Recently, we’ve seen a drop in the backlog. I’ve been told that it’s 20 per cent of files that have been rejected and what they have to do is reapply so it’s a false number,” Tolmie adds.
Tolmie has been made aware that Veterans Affairs caseworkers have not been monitoring and tracking how they’re looking after files from start to finish, which has led to applicants falling through the cracks.
“We need to be doing a better job looking after our veterans.”
Following the meeting, Tolmie does feel that veterans who were in attendance got a lot out of the discussion.
“I feel like veterans have been taken for granted for so many years and we need to turn that around. We need to sit down and talk with them as their representatives and find out the challenges that they’re dealing with.”
Moose Jaw’s roundtable discussion won’t be the last conversation that Tolmie has with veterans within his riding or across the country.
“I want to follow through with our promises. There are so many times that politicians are faulted for not following through. We need to do a better job and that’s what my goal is.”
He has plans in place to sit down with several associations and assist veterans with filling out their funding applications to prevent any more from falling through the cracks.