OTTAWA — The Harper Conservatives are trying to further cover what has been a very politically sensitive spot for them, benefits for veterans. The Conservatives say if they're re-elected they'll improve the earnings loss benefit for veterans with service-related injuries or disabilities. The Tories are promising to allow veterans who are receiving the benefit to earn up to $10,000 dollars in outside work without reducing what they get from the government. Veteran's Minister Erin O'Toole announced the promise in Ottawa on Saturday. The Royal Canadian Legion has in the past called for the government to extend the program to soldiers past the age of 65 while opposition MPs wanted the program to cover 90 per cent of soldiers' salary while undergoing rehabilitation _ currently 75 per cent of their pay is covered under the program. The Conservatives have been severely bruised politically over how they've handled Canada's veterans. They were rapped on the knuckles in 2013 by Veteran's Ombudsman Guy Parent who concluded that some of Canada's most severely disabled soldiers would risk living out their final years in near poverty. The government announced improvements to benefits earlier this year. Veterans were also irate over the way they were treated by former minister Julian Fantino accusing him of being insensitive to their concerns. He was shuffled out of the job in favour of O'Toole.
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