01/30/2014 12:57 EST | Updated 04/01/2014 05:59 EDT

Canadian Military Suicides: Team To Clear Backlog Of Investigations


OTTAWA — Defence Minister Rob Nicholson says the military has assembled a special team to clear the backlog of technical investigations into suicides within the ranks.

At last word, there were as many as 50 open files in various stages of completion, some dating back five years.

Nicholson says he's expressed serious concerns to the country's top military commander, Gen. Tom Lawson and told him to make the completion of the investigations a priority.

The minister spoke during a House of Commons debate on military mental health issues and the closure of veterans' service offices.

The backlogged suicide investigations are technical reviews that examine whether military policy or practices contributed to the death in any way.

New Democrat veterans critic Peter Stoffer said the news is welcome, but wondered why it's taken so long for the Conservative government to act, given that the backlog has been building for years.

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