What was left off of Budget 2016 as well as the reestablishment of life-long pensions was a line stating "increase the veteran survivor's pension amount from 50 per cent to 70 per cent." This means that every day 30 veterans are dying and their widows or widowers are still having their partner's pension cut in half.
While it's great to hear a majority of Ontario seniors have access to proper nutrition, there is still a big number of those who don't for many reasons. And as more individuals live longer and independently, it's important to continue the dialogue about how to create solutions, especially during Seniors' Month in Ontario.
I want to thank Bruce Moncur for his piece, "Trudeau's Liberals Anything But Sunny Ways For Veterans," and for attending Veterans Affairs Canada's (VAC) stakeholder summit on May 9 to 10. To date, it was the department's largest and best-attended, and he made some invaluable contributions both as a member of the greater assembly and individually when we had an opportunity to speak one-on-one during a lunch break. Bruce points out in his piece that Budget 2016 did not include all of the items in the mandate letter I received from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when I took office as minister of veterans affairs in November 2015. He's right.
The Liberal government was going to allow the abeyance on the Equitas lawsuit -- the court case in which the government has been arguing the "moral obligation" they have to soldiers maimed in war -- to run out. The biggest piece of the Liberal party platform and mandate letter was the reestablishment of life-long pension, and now they are going to court to argue against it.
Some are geographically distant from those they hold dear and raise a solitary glass to absent friends. Others have lost loved ones to the grave. But for many of us, "no contact" is a choice we consciously made. Loneliness is simply less painful than the agony of spending time with our toxic families.
I watched CBC TV's coverage of Remembrance Day on Parliament Hill Wednesday. Several vets in their late 80s and early 90s told some of their stories. But in a few years, millions of untold stories about our fathers, grandfathers or great grandfathers, will be gone. And simply because we didn't ask to hear them.
In a country that traditionally does not know its own history, young people are often identified as the main offenders. But this poem is different. It represents something that is ours. Written by a Canadian, learned by Canadians and recited by Canadians. The Vimy Foundation is calling on all Canadian schools to help pass the torch of remembrance by reciting In Flanders Fields.
Every year, on Nov. 11, I woke up knowing that I didn't have to go to school. I still had work to do, though: pull my Scouting uniform out of my closet, tuck the shirt into my pants and drive 15 minutes to the cenotaph at the rec centre to huddle in the cold with my friends. We would stand holding our flags, my dad beside us, his breast pocket gleaming with medals he'd earned from his 25 years of military service. Sure, the ceremony was long, and for many years, I didn't know the words to "God Save The Queen." But the ritual always felt incredibly important, not just because I'd been taught about the sacrifices of the uniformed men and women at the ceremony and the horrors of war.