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Ombudsman slams new restrictions on mental-health support for veterans' families

Last Updated Jan 19, 2021 at 2:08 pm EST

OTTAWA — Canada’s veterans ombudsman is calling on the federal government to reverse restrictions on mental-health services for veterans’ families.

Ombudsman Nishika Jardine’s demand is in a scathing report released today, a year after Ottawa cut off this federal funding for veterans’ families, even when the family member needs treatment because of their loved one’s military service.

That move followed outrage over Veterans Affairs Canada having paid for Christopher Garnier’s PTSD treatment while in prison because he was the son of a veteran, even though Garnier had been convicted of killing police officer in Halifax.

Jardine’s report quotes several veterans and their family members about the harm those restrictions have done to them and their children, most of whom were receiving support before the change was made without notice.

Some of those quoted also question how the government can justify the restrictions when Canadian Armed Forces commanders have repeatedly stressed how supporting military families at home contributes to successful missions abroad.

Jardine says reversing the restrictions is a matter of fairness given the unique challenges facing veterans’ families, including constant moves, long periods of separation and the stress of living with someone suffering from physical and mental injuries.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021.

The Canadian Press