Vancouver—With more Canadian veterans living on the streets, Megaphone is asking the federal government to commemorate this year’s Remembrance Day by reinstating its cuts to Veterans Affairs and by pledging to do more to help veterans from becoming homeless.
As an investigative feature in the current issue of Megaphone Magazine shows, the federal government is not providing enough resources to help Canadian veterans readjust to civilian life. Research from the University of Western Ontario shows that veterans comprise roughly two per cent of the Canadian homeless population. Sixty-eight have been identified in Vancouver alone.
“It’s time for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to stand up for Canada’s servicemen and women,” says Sean Condon, Megaphone’s executive director. “ Harper needs to show his commitment to supporting veterans by investing more into housing and services for those who are struggling. Our veterans have served our country; they deserve a Canada that serves them.”
Veterans Affairs does not provide funding for housing for veterans. There is only one transitional residence in Canada for veterans struggling to find shelter, an 11-unit residence in Colwood, British Columbia, that is funded entirely by donations.
Last month the Conservative government announced that it is cutting $226 million from Veterans Affairs. With fewer staff working with veterans, it will be more difficult for the department to work with veterans in need.
“With more veterans returning from Afghanistan expected to face similar problems, the federal government should be increasing funding to Veterans Affairs to ensure that they don’t end up on the streets,” says Condon. “The cuts to the department will only exacerbate the problem.”
Megaphone calls on the federal government to take the following action to address homelessness amongst Canadian veterans:
Invest in support services for homeless and vulnerably housed veterans. More housing and more outreach to locate and identify homeless veterans are needed.
Increase the War Veterans Allowance. The WVA program should be expanded to support low-income veterans and their families.
Improve services for veterans with mental and physical health issues. These veterans are more vulnerable to loss of income and homelessness.
To read Megaphone’s investigative feature, ‘Homeless Veterans: Shedding a light on a long hidden problem’, click here.