MacKay announces 5 new soldier support centres
The federal government is establishing five new centres to assist soldiers and their families who are dealing with injuries, disabilities, addictions and mental health problems.
The Integrated Personnel Support Centres (IPSCs) will be dedicated to the care of ill and injured Canadian Forces personnel and veterans.
The new support centres will be added to the 19 IPSCs already operating under the national Joint Personnel Support Unit, which was launched in March 2009.
The new IPSCs will be located in:
- Comox, B.C.
- Cold Lake, Alta.
- Borden, Ont.
- Trenton, Ont.
- Bagotville, Qué.
- A satellite unit will also be established in Moose Jaw, Sask.
IPSCs provide a range of services including community outreach, services to help ill or injured members return to work, financial planning services, adapted fitness services for those with special needs, and Veterans Affairs Canada client and transition services.
"These support centres improve the quality of care and service received by ill and injured Canadian Forces regular and reserve personnel, retired members, their families and the families of those who have passed," Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay told reporters from CFB Trenton.
"Our network of centres helps to ensure that those who served Canada are served themselves and have access to the same high standard of care and support right across the country, wherever they live and train."
MacKay added that the best programs and services in the world will not help if there isn't easy access to them.
The federal government will invest around $7 million over three years for the creation of the five additional IPSCs, as well as $4 million for the annual operating budgets for the centres.
The federal government has been under fire for months over its care of veterans and injured soldiers, following scathing comments from former veterans ombudsman Pat Stogran.
He and others criticized the government for its inadequate veterans' compensation and pension programs. He also complained of a lack of recognition and treatment for post traumatic stress disorder, alleging that Ottawa had turned its back on Canada's vets.
Just ahead of the funding announcement, MacKay alluded to the crimes committed by Russell Williams, the former commander of CFB Trenton, who is now serving a life sentence for killing two women, sexually assaulting two others and a string of break-ins.
"You have had to deal with the reality of a monster in your midst, and you've done so with courage and determination to overcome," MacKay told the CFB Trenton personnel gathered for the announcement.
"This was what can only be described as a shocking breach of trust and an unspeakable period of violence and depravity."