As the federal government questions grocery chain CEOs about their role in the affordability crisis, North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney questioned the Liberals on why they awarded a contract to a company owned by Loblaws — one of the chains in question — to deliver veterans services.
On Thursday, Blaney asked the government to end a $560 million Veterans Affairs contract with Partners in Canadian Veterans Rehabilitation Services (PCVRS), a collaboration between Loblaw-owned Lifemark Health Services and WCG International Consultants Ltd. (which is owned by Australia-based ABM Industries) and instead use the public service. The contract was awarded in November, and a release from the NDP says that the company “with no experience in delivering public services … (is) oversee vital rehabilitation and mental health services for veterans.”
“Veterans who’ve fought for this country deserve to have the best supports possible when they return home,” said Blaney. “But instead, the government is leaving them in the lurch, without access to the services they need and are promised. It’s despicable that when we have one of the best public services in the world, who could be delivering these services, the Liberals are choosing to give a massive contract to a company that only cares about their bottom line.”
The Veterans Affairs Workers Union calculated that the contract with PCVRS would cost Canadians 25 per cent more to provide the service than if the public service did the work. The release also noted that the transition to the new contract resulted in the suspension of mental and psycho-social supports.
“Veterans, VAC workers and service providers have all urged the Minister of Veteran Affairs to end this contract, but he and his Liberal colleagues would rather help their rich CEO friends make even more money. And when Pierre Poilievre was a minister, he stood by while Stephen Harper closed nine Veterans Affairs offices, and 900 veterans services jobs – which created backlogs in the first place,” said Blaney. “The people who’ve proudly served this country deserve the best possible supports to transition from military to civilian life – rich CEOs don’t need the extra help.”