At Sunnybrook -- home to the country's largest veterans centre -- 30,000 flags will be planted in the ground for Remembrance Day. It's a campaign known as Operation Raise a Flag, and it's an opportunity for Canadians to show their appreciation for our country's veterans. Proceeds from the campaign will go towards the hospital's Veterans Grant a Wish Program.
The costs of war are borne by all, from those on the front lines to the spouses, families and communities who serve on the home front. As such, it is critical that we focus not only on the short-term investment that a mission requires, but the life-cycle costs and resources requisite for any mission.
While physical disabilities like blindness more obviously demonstrate the need for a service dog, the animals can be trained to serve a host of people with invisible illnesses as well. These service dogs learn how to respond to mental health issues including PTSD and social anxiety; detect silent conditions like irregular heartbeats or blood sugar levels; and provide emotional support for victims of sexual abuse.
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.