Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan attended the national Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa on Saturday, despite the fact that he is still recovering from an emergency surgery.

O’Regan told CTV’s Omar Sachedina outside the National War Memorial that he was suffering from a gastrointestinal issue that required immediate attention but that his prognosis is good.

“Doctors gave me a day pass so that’s a good thing,” he said.

O’Regan, who went to high school at CFB Goose Bay and who has a brother serving in the Royal Canadian Navy at Esquimalt, B.C., said Remembrance Day has taken on new “weight” for him now that he’s minister.

“It really reminds you why you’re doing this,” he said of Saturday’s ceremony. “These are very human faces that we see here.”

O’Regan was sworn in just over two months ago but has already faced criticism over his handling of homeless veterans, who now number at least 770 in Canada.

The minister told Sachedina that the issue of veteran homelessness is complicated by mental illnesses, including Post-traumatic stress disorder, but that the government needs to step up.

“We’ve got to be more nimble,” he said. “We’ve got to be more sympathetic. We have to, in each and every case, give the veteran the benefit of the doubt.”

O’Regan added that he is “determined that we will identify those people on the streets and give them the help they need.”