Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to thank the hon. member for Pickering—Scarborough East for the service he has given to our country and for graciously sharing his time with me today.
It is the men and women in uniform who have served and sacrificed so much for our country, and those who continue to do so, who have made our nation what it is today.
That is why I am pleased to rise today to support the government's efforts to recognize these sacrifices by helping our veterans find meaningful employment in the federal public service. It is the least that we can do.
Our veterans are the ones who have defended our freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law and the ones who, too often, have given their own lives doing so.
Their sacrifice has allowed us the freedom and peace to pursue and realize the great riches and potential that our country offers.
Indeed, Canada’s veterans personify the ideal of commitment to cause and country. They embody honour and modesty.
Each week, I run into many veterans, whether I am stopping by at the Orléans branch of the Royal Canadian Legion or participating at different commemorative events. There are a considerable number of military personnel and veterans in Ottawa—Orléans, and of course, Branch 632 is the friendliest Legion in the region.
When veterans are asked about their service, their sacrifice or the reasons why they served, their answer is almost invariably because it was their duty.
They did much more than that. They have made Canada a nation that is universally respected around the world. They have helped those in crisis and in need. They have helped to keep the peace in many troubled areas far from Canada.
When all other avenues failed, they fought to protect our way of life and preserve the right of others to live in freedom.
The proud record of Canada's veterans explains the government's deep commitment to recognizing their service and honouring their sacrifice every day.
The government continues to strive to ensure that veterans and their families receive the care and support they need whenever and wherever they need it.
The veterans hiring act further solidifies the government’s commitment and determination to be there for those who have always been there for Canada.
It is our responsibility to ensure that veterans have access to a broad range of programs and services to help them achieve new success after their time in uniform is complete.
The measures we are proposing today will greatly help veterans succeed by creating new opportunities for veterans and still-serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces to start rewarding new careers in the federal public service.
We will create a five-year statutory priority entitlement for Canadian veterans who are medically released for service-related injuries and illnesses.
This change will move these veterans to the front of the line, ahead of all other groups for jobs in the federal public service and by doing so, it will recognize their very real sacrifices for Canada.
Additionally, these new measures will extend the priority entitlement period for all medically released veterans from the current two years to five years.
This means that eligible veterans whose military service is cut short by a career-ending injury or illness suffered in the line of duty will have the time they need to find a federal public service job.
However, we must not forget our other honourably released veterans and still-serving military personnel. As outlined in economic action plan 2014, the government made a commitment to allow eligible, still-serving military personnel to participate in the hiring process for internally advertised positions in the federal public service. This eligibility would extend for a full five years after their release from the Canadian Armed Forces.
To ensure our veterans move to the front of the line for federal public service jobs, a hiring preference for our veterans will be established.
If a veteran has the same qualifications as another applicant in an externally advertised hiring process, the veteran will get the job.
This new hiring preference will be available to all veterans who are honourably released with at least three years of military service. It will last for up to five years from their release date.
This will give our veterans who want to upgrade their skills and education before entering the public service the time to do so. This is great news for these remarkable men and women, and it is the kind of action Canadians have come to expect from us.
Check our record. The government, regardless of fiscal pressures or economic uncertainties, has delivered on its pledge to maintain and enhance veterans' programs and benefits.
Due to the action taken by the government, the annual budget of the Department of Veterans Affairs has increased by a total of almost $785 million since 2005. In total, almost $5 billion in new funding has been invested towards enhancing veterans' benefits, programs and services.
At every turn, we have been adapting our programs and benefits to meet the changing needs of the men, women and families that we serve.
We have been streamlining the way we provide this support. We have been simplifying and reviewing our programs and policies.
We have been introducing new technologies to deliver better and faster service. It is all part of our cutting red tape for veterans initiative, because on this side of the House we are actually allergic to red tape.
The government has made significant improvements to ensure the best care, support and benefits for Canada's veterans and their families.
Turnaround times for processing veterans’ disability benefits have been significantly improved.
The approval time for access to rehabilitation services has been cut in half from four weeks to two.
Paperwork has been reduced.
We are listening. The government is implementing a comprehensive approach to serving veterans that is responsive, inclusive and flexible.
Passing this legislation will keep this momentum going. The implementation of these measures is key in helping veterans and releasing members of the Canadian Armed Forces make a successful transition to civilian life.
We are keeping faith with the courageous women and men who have served and continue to serve our country so well.
All members should demonstrate their own support and commitment to Canada’s veterans and serving members by supporting this bill.
I thank members for their kind attention.
I will be just as attentive to the questions put to me by members of the House.
Mr. Speaker, I cannot agree with my colleague more that finding innovative ways to improve the care provided to Canadians is essential.
On top of our government's significant investments in health research that he mentioned, I was proud to announce this morning, along with my colleague from Ottawa—Orléans, over $13 million to support the launch of three new national research networks in the areas of respiratory health, stroke and vascular health.
We are partnering with the Canadian Lung Association, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and Hypertension Canada to put patients at the heart of our research and deliver life-changing results for Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, today is budget day. We look forward to hearing the Minister of Finance speak to us this afternoon.
Economic development in Ottawa—Orléans has been lagging behind for decades.
Thanks to the attentive team work begun in 2006 by the dedicated Orléans city councillors, our dynamic chamber of commerce, and their servant in this House, we are in the process of re-branding Orléans.
Thanks to an $880 million investment from the government, the new Communications Security Establishment Canada office should be up and running by the end of the year.
Very soon the VENUS Cybersecurity Corporation will be setting up shop in Orléans. VENUS will serve as a business incubator for the knowledge industry.
Orléans has become the computer and telecommunications security capital, generating many jobs.
Orleans, an educated and bilingual community, is on a roll.
The member's time has expired. The hon. member for Ottawa—Orléans will have two minutes to wrap up his speech when the House resumes debate on this motion.
We will now proceed with statements by members.
Before we go to resuming debate with the hon. member for Ottawa—Orléans, I will let him know that we have about eight minutes remaining in the time allocated for his remarks.
The hon. member for Ottawa—Orléans.
The electoral district of Ottawa--Orléans (Ontario) has a population of 109,950 with 85,456 registered voters and 228 polling divisions.
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