02/19/2016 11:16 EST | Updated 02/19/2017 05:12 EST

Kent Hehr: Homeless Veterans Top Priority

He said his department has never been equipped — nor had a mandate — to deal with the issue.

OTTAWA — Canada's veterans minister says the issue of homelessness among ex-soldiers is at the top of his agenda, but it is something that the Trudeau Liberals will tackle in a government-wide manner.

Kent Hehr spoke to the annual Conference of Defence Associations Institute meeting in Ottawa, saying that his department has never been equipped — nor had a mandate — to deal with the issue.

Minister of Veterans Affairs Kent Hehr talks with media in Ottawa on Nov. 12, 2015. (Photo: Matthew Usherwood/Canadian Press)

He says the department has been focused on the delivery of benefits and other programs.

A recent study by Employment and Social Development Canada found there are at least 2,250 homeless veterans in the country, but the department cautions the data is far from complete.

The figures come from a database which tracks 60 emergency shelters across the country.

Hehr says he's had talks with other ministers about the government's planned increase in social housing and how that might affect veterans, but he cautioned it is too early to say what the Liberals might do.

Last week, Hehr ordered his department to establish a new priorities secretariat that will focus on three key issues — homelessness, support for veterans’ families, and support for those transitioning to civilian careers.

Also on HuffPost

Photo gallery Veterans Ride Across Canada See Gallery