Green Party leader Elizabeth May pauses while discussing the plight of veterans in Canada during a campaign stop in Nanaimo Friday. The Green Party used the event to discuss its campaign platform for veterans.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May pauses while discussing the plight of veterans in Canada during a campaign stop in Nanaimo Friday. The Green Party used the event to discuss its campaign platform for veterans.

Election 2015: Green Party promises better veteran support

NANAIMO - The Green Party of Canada is promising to re-open Veterans Affairs Canada offices as part of its election campaign.

The Green Party of Canada is promising to re-open Veterans Affairs Canada offices as part of its election campaign.

Along with Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidate Paul Manly, Elizabeth May, federal Green Party leader, was in Nanaimo Friday to unveil a plank in her election platform, which aims to provide better support for veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Among issues the Greens voiced opposition to includes the shuttering of offices and the New Veterans Charter, which changes disability and pension payments. It pays out a lump sum to veterans, as opposed to monthly payments, something the party would restore for disabled veterans.

Veterans Affairs Canada, the party said, was established to benefit returning soldiers, but is now operated like a for-profit medical insurance business.

The Greens said policy manuals are confusing, program availability is not clear and veterans are now placed into several categories, with eligibility based on where they fall in a specific category – regular forces, RCMP, reservist, trainer, combat, admin, SarTech and technical – which needs to cease.

“This is not a place that you have cuts, especially they’ve expanded other departments, they’ve expanded substantially Canadian Border Services … taking care of our veterans is not a place to cut corners and we shouldn’t be nickel and diming our veterans,” said May.

Full funding must be restored in order to Veterans Affairs Canada to re-open the offices, she said.

The Veterans Review and Appeal Board currently rules on both new cases and appeals and the Greens said there needs to be two separate bodies made up of certified experts.

Additionally, the Greens also promised to pay for service dog training, as it said the dogs are found to reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. May said the Greens are committed to providing a service dog to any veteran who wants one. She estimated it would cost at least $1 million annually.

“Service dogs have been shown to be remarkably effective in helping veterans and helping them avoid pharmaceutical drugs. They work better than pharmaceutical drugs, but the wait time for a veteran to get a PTSD service dog is years,” said May.

May said the Green’s full platform and budget will be announced just after Labour Day.