02/14/2014 11:40 EST | Updated 04/16/2014 05:59 EDT

Canadian Vets' Medical Records To Be Held By Private, U.S. Firm: NDP


OTTAWA - The NDP says the federal government is transferring veterans' medical records to the custody of a private American company.

MP Peter Stoffer says veterans seeking help will now have to wait while files are retrieved from a company called Iron Mountain Holdings.

He also says the government is closing what are known as treatment authorization centres, responsible for approving treatments needed by veterans.

Now, he says, that approval will have to come from a private company.

Stoffer says it is wrong to put medical files into the hands of a private, for-profit firm.

He says it would mean delays for vets who would have to wait for their records to be retrieved, then passed on through Veterans Affairs.

He also said a private firm shouldn't be deciding whether vets can get treatments they need.

"I find this absolutely unconscionable," he said. "What the Conservative government is now doing is taking what was a very good public-service work done by dedicated employees for many, many years and turning all that work over to the private sector ... with no consultation no discussion."

The Harper government has been harshly criticized in recent weeks over its moves to close some Veterans Affairs offices.

Veterans Affairs Canada said the decision to close nine locations was based on declining use. It said veterans will be handled through nearby Service Canada offices.

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