Ministerial Question Period: Mental Health Services

By: The Hon. Marty Klyne

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Hon. Marty Klyne: Thank you, minister.

We know that post-traumatic stress and other operational stress injuries are significant issues for Canadian veterans and that mental wellness is necessary for living a fulfilling life, with supportive relationships and rewarding employment. Furthermore, we know that veteran homelessness or suicide is usually preceded by deteriorating mental health and relationships and often by addictions. Effective mental health treatments are severely lacking for veterans.

What is the ministry doing to provide quality and timely mental health treatment to our veterans, and how long is the backlog? Will your department please eliminate artificial cut-off dates that arbitrarily distinguish veterans on whether they were injured before or after 2006?

Hon. Ginette Petitpas Taylor, P.C., M.P., Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence: There is a lot to that question; I will do my best to answer it as quickly as possible.

Again, with respect to the access to mental health services, as I have indicated, we certainly recognize that when veterans are asking for mental health care — let it be addictions or mental health — we want to make sure that those services are put in place immediately. That is why when it comes to the evaluation or adjudication of those files, we want to make sure they are approved immediately. We made that change two years ago.

As I have indicated, more than 16,000 veterans have benefited from that. We need to make sure that we treat the veterans where they are at and when they want the services. That is exactly what we’ve done.

It has made a significant difference as well with respect to the backlog. I am pleased to say that as of December we’re at the 5,000 mark with respect to the backlog of cases. We recognize as a department we will always have a backlog, just with some complex cases that we —

The Hon. the Speaker: Thank you, minister.

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