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May 27, 2015 at 03:41 PM


Welcome to my online office. I have set up this website to give you a chance
to interact with me directly and to learn a little bit more about my work to
Stand Up for St. Catharines in Ottawa. I hope you will take the time to read
my blog, check out the community calendar and look at the services available
through my Community Office. Most of all, I hope you will take the time to
communicate your ideas and concerns by commenting on my blog, voting for the
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please share your thoughts and ideas.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Rick Dykstra

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

 
 

Government of Canada Strengthens Benefits for Reservists
Mar 13, 2015 at 11:12 AM

Increased benefits for part-time Reserve Force Veterans ensure fair treatment for all Veterans

March 13, 2015 – Halifax – Veterans Affairs Canada

The Honourable Erin O’Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs, and the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today  announced part-time Reserve Force Veterans will have the support they deserve, honouring a pledge made by the Government of Canada. The ministers were joined by Member of Parliament Scott Armstrong and the Veterans Ombudsman, Guy Parent.

Today’s announcement focused on the Veterans Affairs Canada’s (VAC) Earnings Loss (EL) Benefit, which provides income support for Veterans with service-related injuries while they are participating in VAC’s Rehabilitation Program or who are unable to be suitably employed.

Currently, part-time Reserve Force Veterans in receipt of the Earnings Loss Benefit are eligible for an annual EL Benefit of $24,300. Through changes aimed at ensuring respect for reservists, beginning in April 2015, all Veterans of the Reserve Force eligible for the EL Benefit will be ensured a minimum annual income of $42,426, which is the current EL Benefit of a basic corporal in the Regular Force. This is a big step forward for those who need it the most, and responds to concerns raised by the Veterans Ombudsman and the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs regarding fair treatment of Canada’s reservists.

Survivors of part-time Reserve Force Veterans who lose their lives as a result of service will also benefit from this change.

The EL Benefit is a taxable monthly benefit that ensures Veterans’ total income will be at least 75% of their pre-release military salary while they are participating in rehabilitation or unable to be suitably employed.

“Today, we are recognizing the critical role played by the men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves. Reservists served with distinction in Afghanistan and when they deploy, they share the same risks in duty that Regular Force members do. Canadians respect the commitment to juggle civilian employment and military service and today, I am ensuring reservists injured in the service to Canada are treated fairly. Our Government will extend the Earnings Loss Benefit to our Reserve Force Veterans to help the Veterans and their families recover from their injury and make a successful transition to civilian life. I want to thank the Ombudsman and other stakeholders for their work advancing this issue and supporting our CAF Reserves.”
The Honourable Erin O’Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs

“The sacrifices of our Veterans, who have exemplified the highest ideals of duty, courage and loyalty, must never fade. Canada must honour Veterans as they have honoured this country. Today’s announcement provides Canadian Armed Forces reservists and their families the confidence that our Government will provide the compassion, respect, and support they need and deserve.”
The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

“I am pleased that another gap in the New Veterans Charter is about to be closed. Reservists are an important component of our national security and play a critical role in sustaining the Canadian Armed Forces. Since becoming Veterans Ombudsman, I have been advocating for the One Veteran theme so that all Veterans are treated fairly for service-related injuries/illness and death, regardless of when and where they served. Today, we are moving one step closer to that reality and I commend the Minister of Veterans Affairs for this change.”
Guy Parent, Canada’s Veterans Ombudsman

Veterans Affairs Canada is committed to ensuring Veterans are treated with the care, compassion and respect they deserve. Veterans and their families are at the center of everything we do. #Veterancentric

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Last Updated ( Mar 13, 2015 at 01:44 PM )
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Government of Canada announces enhanced lifetime support for injured Veterans and their families
Mar 09, 2015 at 01:17 PM

New monthly benefit addresses significant gap for Canada’s moderately to severely disabled Veterans and survivors

March 9, 2015 – Toronto – Veterans Affairs Canada

The Honourable Erin O’Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs, unveiled a proposed new financial benefit today aimed at providing financial stability to Veterans who are moderately to severely disabled and their families. The Minister was joined by Veterans’ groups, members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Veterans Ombudsman, Guy Parent.

Currently, the Earnings Loss Benefit—upon which many moderately to severely disabled Veterans rely—is not available after the age of 65, resulting in a drop in the Veteran’s annual income. The new Retirement Income Security Benefit announced today would provide these Veterans with continued assistance in the form of a monthly income support payment beginning at age 65. 

The proposed Retirement Income Security Benefit would work in concert with existing services and benefits to establish a continuum of support that spans a disabled Veteran’s entire life. It is designed for those whose ability to save for retirement was directly impacted by their service to our country. Income support would also be extended to families through continued payment of a monthly benefit to the Veteran’s survivor.

The Government of Canada also recognizes the complexity of financial benefits available for moderately to severely disabled Veterans. As part of a continued commitment to Veteran-centric care, Minister O’Toole indicated that Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) is examining ways to combine these new and existing supports into a single monthly pension for severely injured Veterans.

Quick Facts

  • The Retirement Income Security Benefit would ensure that an eligible Veteran’s total annual income is at least 70% of what he or she received in financial benefits from VAC before age 65.
  • Monthly payments would be calculated on a case-by-case basis, taking into account how much the Veteran was receiving before age 65 and other sources of income he or she may have beyond age 65.  
  • It is estimated that by 2020, approximately 5,800 Veterans and survivors would qualify for the Retirement Income Security Benefit upon turning 65. An estimated 261 Veterans and survivors would receive payments by 2020.
  • Today’s announcement responds directly to concerns raised by the Veterans Ombudsman and the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs.

“Today, we are closing a major gap in the New Veterans Charter that was identified by the Veterans Ombudsman and others in recent years. The Retirement Income Security Benefit will ensure that Veterans who are moderately to severely disabled receive lifetime financial support beyond the age of 65. This new benefit will provide security and peace of mind to Veterans and their families as they grow older.”
The Honourable Erin O’Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs

“The Retirement Income Security Benefit meets the intent of my recommendation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs on the most urgent New Veterans Charter shortcoming: after age 65 financial support. I congratulate the Minister of Veterans Affairs for his leadership on this issue and I encourage all parliamentarians to pass this new pension benefit without delay.”
Guy Parent, Canada’s Veterans Ombudsman

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Veterans Affairs Canada is committed to ensuring Veterans are treated with the care, compassion and respect they deserve. Veterans and their families are at the center of everything we do.

#Veterancentric

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Last Updated ( Mar 11, 2015 at 01:11 PM )
PM Harper and Bill Gates renew call to advance global Maternal, Newborn and Child health priority
Feb 25, 2015 at 12:00 AM

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today met with Bill Gates in Ottawa to discuss how to further leverage the strong leadership that Canada has demonstrated in promoting  maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) in order to ensure that it remains a global development priority and a prominent feature of the global post-2015 development agenda. They were joined by Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie, as well as global health leaders representing Canadian and international organizations that are committed to advancing significant progress and achieving results on MNCH.

While tremendous progress has been made to save the lives of the world’s most vulnerable citizens – women and children – much work remains to be done. To this end, the Prime Minister and Mr. Gates together renewed the call for focused global political leadership and sustained financial commitments to ensure that MNCH remains a central development priority as the world moves beyond 2015.

The Prime Minister also reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to support immunization as a key pillar of Canada’s MNCH strategy by announcing new investments toward improving access to vaccines for mothers and children. These investments are aimed at eradicating polio and eliminating tetanus, as well as providing support to 20 implementation research teams, made up of African and Canadian researchers, who will contribute to improving maternal and child health in Africa.

During a moderated discussion, the Prime Minister and Mr. Gates discussed the unprecedented global progress that has taken place since the establishment of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals in 2000. Fifteen years later, the world stands on the verge of ending the preventable deaths of mothers and children under five within a generation, in large part due to the leadership and commitment of international partners such as the Government of Canada and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Quick Facts

  • Canada and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have a long history of successful collaboration in support of international development. In June 2010, under Prime Minister Harper’s leadership, world leaders launched the Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, which focused on saving the lives of mothers, newborns and children under the age of five in developing countries.
  • During the Saving Every Woman, Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach Summit in May 2014, Canada committed to support MNCH between 2015 and 2020, creating renewed global momentum to advance MNCH as a global priority and prioritized Canada’s commitment to three areas: strengthening of health systems, improving nutrition, and reducing the burden of leading diseases.
  • Canada’s commitment aims to tackle emerging challenges, by providing greater emphasis on nutrition and better reaching children in the fragile first month of life, stepping up immunization efforts and building civil registration and vital statistics systems.
  • Canada is a proud supporter of immunization programming to ensure that every child has access to important life-saving vaccines. This includes commitments made at the 2013 Global Vaccine Summit towards the eradication of polio, which the polio “endgame strategy” expects to achieve by 2018.
  • In May 2014, the Government of Canada also launched the Innovating for Maternal and Child Health in Africa program, a partnership between Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, the International Development Research Centre and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
  • The lives of more than five million mothers and children have been saved in developing countries since 2010 due in large part to the global effort to improve maternal, newborn and child health.

“Canada’s top development priority remains eliminating the preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children in developing countries. While significant progress has been made, more can and must be done to sustain the momentum and end these preventable deaths within our lifetime. Our Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have been steadfast partners in championing this cause, and remain committed to ensuring that all women and children can live healthy and productive lives. Together, we will continue to call on the international community to renew their commitment and support to ensure our global efforts remain focused on eliminating preventable maternal and child deaths.” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper

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