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April 5th, 2022 - Question Period - Veterans Affairs

Support for Veterans

Hon. Rose-May Poirier: Honourable senators, my question is for the government leader in the Senate.

According to the information that predates the pandemic, the number of homeless veterans across Canada is estimated to be about 3,000. Last year’s federal budget promised $45 million over two years on a pilot project aimed at reducing homelessness amongst veterans, beginning with the 2022-23 fiscal year.

A recent answer to a Senate Order Paper question revealed that Infrastructure Canada and Veterans Affairs Canada are still working on the design of the program. They don’t know how many veterans this program will serve.

Leader, when will this program be operational, and how many veterans will it help?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question, and for underlining the important issue of providing proper supports — housing and others — to those who have served our country with distinction and with honour.

As soon as the answers to your questions are, in fact, available, I would be happy to report to the chamber.

Senator Poirier: Leader, the Government of Canada has made goals or promised deadlines to be met in any number of areas. For example, by 2035, the Trudeau government aims for a net-zero emissions electricity grid. It also promised to set a target for gender equality in sports at every level by 2035.

Yet the recent Order Paper answer from the Trudeau government refuses to say whether it would set a date or goal for ending homelessness amongst veterans; it simply referred to a program that has yet to be designed.

As I mentioned earlier, leader, why won’t your government set a goal for eliminating homelessness amongst our Canadian veterans?

Senator Gold: Thank you for your question.

Goals serve many purposes and can be aspirational and motivational. With regard to the goals that you alluded to that have been set, it’s the position of the government that these goals are realistic and achievable because there is a plan in place to achieve those goals.

As your question mentioned, plans are still being developed to address the important issue of homelessness amongst veterans. When that plan is in place, then the goals will follow.

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