10/12/2011 12:38 EDT | Updated 12/12/2011 05:12 EST

Federal spending cuts should bypass veterans, Legion argues

OTTAWA - The Royal Canadian Legion says veterans' programs should be protected from proposed government spending cuts.

Legion president Pat Varga says the government has a moral debt to veterans and should exempt their benefits from the cuts.

The government has asked all departments to offer budget cuts of five per cent and 10 per cent in a major spending review.

The proposals are being studied by the cabinet.

But Varga says any programs, services or benefits for vets should be exempt both from the review and any eventual spending reductions.

He says President Barack Obama recently promised American veterans that they wouldn't be hit by a similar spending review in the United States.

Canada should follow that lead, he says.

"Getting our financial house in order should not be done on the backs of our wounded warriors and their families," said the Legion president.

"The prime minister should recognize not only in words but also in deeds the moral debt incurred by our sailors, soldiers, airmen and airwomen, and their families in the service of their country."