Dear Editor, Our Conservative Government has made it a priority to improve the life of veterans. As such, I would like to correct the inaccuracy of an article written by Bob Diotte and published in Sault This Week, which references a $1 billion lapse in the Veterans Affairs Budget this year. That statement is factually incorrect. The $1 billion in question is in fact cumulative over the course of the past 9 years, during which time the Department of Veterans Affairs actually spent 98% of their approved budget, spending $29.7 billion of an approved budget of $30.2 billion. The discrepancy beyond that is what is referred to as additional appropriations.
During the budget planning process, all departments make predictions for the coming year. Many factors can contribute to a change in planned spending and since it is against procedure to exceed budget allocations, necessary additional funds must be requested during the year. Veterans Affairs Canada requested these additional appropriations over each of the past nine years, as a precaution, to ensure they had adequate funds. This identifies the so-called lapsed funding in question by Bob Diotte. Without these appropriations, Veteran’s Affairs would have exceeded their departmental budget over 30% of the time. Put simply, some of these budget contingencies were not required.
It should also be noted that during that 9 year period, red tape was cut, services were improved, administrative staff were reduced, and the budget was increased by an average of almost $100 million per year, all resulting in direct service improvements to our veterans. As a matter of fact, 91% of the Veteran’s Affairs budget goes towards direct services for veterans and their families.
I am happy to meet with any constituent to discuss the improvements the Conservative Government has made to the benefit of veterans and their families since forming government in 2006, as well as to hear feedback on additional services that can be considered.
Bryan Hayes, Member of Parliament
Sault Ste. Marie