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Oct 02, 2014 at 12:21 AM

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
online polls or sending me an e-mail. This website is here for you, so
please share your thoughts and ideas.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Rick Dykstra

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage


Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada in response to the situation in Israel
Jul 13, 2014 at 12:28 PM

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement in response to the situation in Israel:

“The indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel are terrorist acts, for which there is no justification. It is evident that Hamas is deliberately using human shields to further terror in the region.

“Failure by the international community to condemn these reprehensible actions would encourage these terrorists to continue their appalling actions. Canada calls on its allies and partners to recognize that these terrorist acts are unacceptable and that solidarity with Israel is the best way of stopping the conflict.

“Canada is unequivocally behind Israel. We support its right to defend itself, by itself, against these terror attacks, and urge Hamas to immediately cease their indiscriminate attacks on innocent Israeli civilians.

“Canada reiterates its call for the Palestinian government to disarm Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups operating in Gaza, including the Iranian proxy, Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”

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MPs Meet With Local Ukrainian Community Members
Jun 24, 2014 at 04:52 PM

Rick Dykstra and James Bezan get input on situation in Ukraine

St. Catharines – Members of Parliament Rick Dykstra and James Bezan (Selkirk-Interlake, MB) met with more than a dozen members of the local Ukrainian community today to update them on the federal government’s response to the escalating situation between Ukraine and Russia, as well as listen to their concerns.

Bezan, a Canadian of Ukrainian descent, has been outspoken in his condemnation of the Russian invasion of Crimea, so much so, that he was one of several Canadians recently sanctioned by the Russian government. He was also part of the Canadian delegation led by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird that recently travelled to Ukraine to meet with the leaders of the newly elected transitional government. 

“This was a highly informative meeting”, said Dykstra.  “What is happening in Ukraine is extremely distressing to local Ukrainian-Canadians  and James and I were very appreciative of the opportunity to hear their ongoing concerns and describe what our government is doing to support the people of Ukraine.”

Many issues were raised during the nearly two hour meeting, including the possibility of further sanctions against Russia, what Ukrainian-Canadians can do to support the government’s efforts and how to ensure local Ukrainians are kept up-to-date on developments.

“I was very pleased at the turnout and the response from the Ukrainian community in St. Catharines”, said Bezan. “They are obviously very engaged in what is going on between Russia and Ukraine and it is imperative that as a government, we keep their views in mind as this situation develops.”

Today’s roundtable meeting was the first of several Bezan will attend as he travels across Canada meeting with Ukrainian-Canadians.

  • Keep up to date - Canada Promotes Territorial Integrity and National Unity in Ukraine

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Last Updated ( Jul 13, 2014 at 12:31 PM )
UPDATED August 11, 2014: How our Government is delivering for Veterans
Nov 06, 2013 at 12:00 AM

Updated: June 3, 2014

Report Released: (pdf) THE NEW VETERANS CHARTER:MOVING FORWARD - Report of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs


Our Government believes that a proud nation that sends brave men and women into harm’s way must stand with them upon their return.  That is why since taking office, we have made numerous improvements to support services for Veterans. The Enhanced New Veterans Charter provides a comprehensive suite of tools and help to meet their needs.

Through eight budgets, our Government has invested almost $4.7 billion in new funding to enhance Veterans benefits, programs and services - and with close to 90% of the department’s budget going towards direct services and support for Veterans, we are delivering for our Veterans.

In order to ensure that we continue to improve services for veterans our Government has initiated a comprehensive review of the Veteran’s Charter by a House of Commons Committee to determine whether recent changes are having the desired effect.  The Ombudsman's report will be the starting point for this review.

  • Priority Hiring for Injured Veterans - Nov 7, 2013
    New legislation intended to provide medically released Veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) who were injured in service to Canada the top level of priority consideration for job openings in the public service.
  • Bringing them home: Canada’s veterans in the workforce
  • Veterans Charter Review - Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs (ACVA)
  • Infographic - Veterans Affairs Canada supports available to seriously injured Veterans (PDF)

Facts Regarding Office Closures

50 Veterans Affairs Offices remain across the Country

List of offices being closed:

Sydney, NS
Charlottetown, PE
Corner Brook, NL
Windsor, ON
Thunder Bay, ON
Brandon, MB
Saskatoon, SK
Kelowna, BC

For an office to be closed, the surrounding region had to have less than 160 case managed veterans.

In regions where underused area offices will be winding down operations as of January 31, 2014, a Veterans Affairs Canada employee will be working out of the nearest Service Canada location to assist Veterans with their benefit applications, answer their questions and help them get access to services. This change means that a Veterans Affairs Canada client service agent will be assigned to Service Canada offices in Kelowna, British Columbia; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Brandon, Manitoba; Thunder Bay, Ontario; Windsor, Ontario; Sydney, Nova Scotia; Charlottetown, P.E.I.; and Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Most importantly, a seriously injured Veteran does not drive to a district office. In fact, we send officials to meet them.

  • A full-time VAC client service agent will be placed in the Service Canada location nearest to the eight offices that are winding down operations. They will be serving the public starting Monday, February 3rd, and can assist Veterans with applying for and modifying benefits, providing information on services and connecting those with complex needs to case managers or medical professionals.
  • As of February 3rd, 2014, there will be over 650 points of service across Canada where Veterans can receive in-person service from the Government of Canada, an increase of over 16 times the number of locations that were available in 2006.
  • In total since 2006, the Government of Canada has increased funding for Veterans Affairs Canada by nearly $5 billion.
  • Case-managed Veterans continue to have access to the same personalized visits from VAC case managers, whether in their own home or at a location of their choice. Service standards remain consistent,
  • Veterans Affairs Canada offers a range of services and support to injured Veterans, including snow clearing, grass cutting and home cleaning, support for career re-training, and much more.
  • The Public Service Alliance of Canada opposes Bill C-11, the Priority Hiring for Injured Veterans Act.

Better knowledge and understanding of the medical conditions facing Canadian Veterans has led to a comprehensive overhaul of the way support and services are provided. While 90% of Veterans leave the Canadian Armed Forces needing little in the way of medical treatment, we are dedicated to serving all Veterans including those that do require assistance. For these Veterans, our Government has made a series of improvements which provides a comprehensive suite of tools and support to meet their needs, including:

• Income replacement that ensures their annual income does not fall below 75% of their pre-release military salary with the minimum pre-tax salary being set at $42,426.

• Additional monthly support of up to $1,709.27 for those that suffer from lost job opportunities because of permanent and severe injuries. In the event that a Veteran has been severely injured in the service of Canada and cannot find suitable employment on a permanent basis because of those injuries, additional monthly support of $1,047.53 is available

• Those that have completed rehabilitation and are able to work but have not been able to find a job or have a low-paying job, may also receive a tax-free monthly payment of up to $2,593.32 plus an additional $328.64 per dependent child.

• A one-time, tax-free award for injuries up to a maximum of $298,587.97.

• Up to $194.45 per month for wear and tear on specially maintained clothing to support a disability.

In addition, Veterans may also be assisted through:

• case management services delivered in person in the Veterans home or a place of their choice;

• career transition assistance including resume writing and the services of a professional recruiter;

• rehabilitation services through an expanded network of world-class Operational Stress Injury Clinics;

• education assistance including tuition and expenses for books;

• health care benefits including the cost of medication and counseling services;

• assistance to ensure their place of residence is fully accessible in keeping with the nature of their injury; and

• training and education assistance for the spouse of an seriously ill or injured veteran.  


• We now offer up-front payments for grounds maintenance and housekeeping services offered under the Veterans Independence Program. This change eliminates cumbersome paperwork for close to 100,000 Veterans, widows, survivors and primary caregivers. 

• Our new Veterans Transition Action Plan is ensuring Canada’s Veterans and transitioning Canadian Armed Forces personnel understand and can easily access the services and support available to them.

• As part of our Veterans Transition Action Plan, up to $600,000 over four years is being provided for Veterans to participate in the University of British Columbia’s ground-breaking Veterans Transition Program, which will provide group-based therapy for Veterans across the country.

• To help support transitioning Veterans to find important and meaningful secondary careers, we have launched a new Veterans Transition Advisory Council. Led by the True Patriot Love Foundation, the council will help raise awareness of the skill Veterans have to offer to the private sector.

• The Hire a Veteran (formerly Jobs) initiative was launched to help connect corporate Canada with Veterans transitioning from military to civilian life.

• We announced a $150,000 contribution to the Helmets to Hardhats program, an innovative partnership that brings private, and public, sector resources together to match Veterans with opportunities in the construction industry.

• We launched the online Veterans Benefits Browser with the Veterans Ombudsman, allowing Veterans to more readily determine what programs and support available to them.

• As part of Economic Action Plan 2013, we improved the Funeral and Burial Program by simplifying the program for Veterans’ estates and by more than doubling the current funeral services rate from $3,600 to $7,376.

• Since September 2012, we have announced funding for memorials, cenotaphs and commemorative activities across the country through our Cenotaph and Monument Restoration Fund and Community Engagement Partnership fund to ensure that the actions of our brave Canadian men and women will be preserved and remembered.

• We launched a new partnership with Service Canada which provides more than 600 points of service across the country where Veterans and their families can get general information on programs and services and receive assistance in completing and submitting applications for Veterans Affairs programs.

• To coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, we declared 2013 the Year of the Korean War Veteran,  in order to recognize and honour those Canadians who defended the Republic of Korea and upheld freedom, democracy and the rule of law.   To that end, we also launched a new Certificate of Recognition to honour Canadian Korean War Veterans.

• In April 2013, the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister for La Francophonie accompanied a group of 36 Veterans on a Revisit tour to Korea. In June, Korean War Veterans from across Canada were honoured in Ottawa during a weekend of commemorative events and in July, Minister Fantino revisited Korea with Canadian Veterans to honor the 60th Anniversary of the Armistice and, Minister Nicholson, Minister of National Defense attended the national Canadian ceremony in Brampton.

• We also announced changes to deliver increased financial support to War Veterans by no longer deducting disability benefits paid under the Pension Act from the War Veterans Allowance (WVA) payments. This will put more money into the pockets of Veterans and their families, including some who have not been receiving this support until now. 

• We improved how the War Veterans Allowance is calculated. The change is expected to help:

    • approximately 3,000 Veterans and survivors who may now qualify for monthly payments for the first time, including 700 who are expected to gain access to related support (treatment and Veterans Independence Program services) for the first time;
    • more than 2,000 Veterans in long-term care who will receive a higher subsidy toward their accommodation and meals fees; and
    • 200 Veterans and survivors who will receive increased payments.

• In May 2013, we announced an investment of $5 million to support the construction of a permanent Education Centre at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France.

• We have launched a homelessness pilot project which we have since made a permanent initiative in major cities across Canada and are working with influential Veteran and community groups to help identify homeless Veterans and assist them in leaving the streets behind. We have also launched a new pilot project working with the University of Western Ontario on transitional housing in London, Kingston, North Bay and Victoria.

• The Department of National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada are also working together, and  announced in September 2010 that $52.5 million has been committed to establish the Legacy of Care, which improves the quality of life for our seriously injured personnel and their families. This initiative includes: Barrier-free transitional accommodations, support services while in transitional accommodations, The Canadian Forces Attendant Care Benefit, a Canadian Forces Spousal Education Upgrade Benefit and a Caregiver Benefit.

Phone and Web Addresses

• Veterans Benefit Browser and “My VAC Account”: www.veterans.gc.ca
• VAC Assistance Line: 1-800-268-7708
• Veterans Review and Appeal Board: 1-800-450-8006  www.vrab.tacra.gc.ca
• Office of the Veterans Ombudsman: www.ombudsman-veterans.gc.ca  phone: 1-877-330-4343, Outside Canada: 902-626-2919
• If you know a homeless Veteran, or a Veteran at risk of becoming homeless, please support them by getting them in touch with a Veterans Affairs Canada office, or call the Department’s National Client Contact Centre toll-free number 1-866-522-2122 (English) or 1-866-522-2022 (Francias).
• One Homeless Vet is one too many
• Any Veteran or family member requiring immediate assistance should call our 24hr emergency line at 1-800-268-7708.  Note that if a Veteran is at immediate risk the call should be made to 911.
• Operational Stress Injury Social Support osiss.ca "PEER SUPPORT - Leave None Behind"
• Before and After – The Veterans Charter
• Royal Canadian Navy Benevolent Fund: www.rcnbf.ca
• Canadian Forces Personnel Assistance Fund
• Royal Canadian Legion - Financial Assistance
• War Veterans Allowance and Assistance Fund

Associated Links

  • Infographic – Points of Service for Veterans and their families
  • Infographic – The changing demographics of Veterans and their families
  • Infograpghic – Veterans Affairs Canada’s budget has increased as the number of Veterans has declined
  • Infographic – Veterans Affairs Canada Budget: $2.8 billion to $3.64 billion in under 10 years
  • Veterans Affairs Canada – Locations by Area
  • News Release – Government of Canada Announces Priority Hiring for Injured Veterans Act
  • Open Letter from Rick Dykstra Regarding Services to Veterans
  • Infographic - Veterans Affairs Canada supports available to seriously injured Veterans (PDF)

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Last Updated ( Aug 11, 2014 at 12:30 PM )
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