The Moose Jaw Legion was host to a discussion between veterans, the Minister of Veterans Affairs and MPs Ray Boughen (Palliser) and Laurie Hawn (Edmonton-Centre) Wednesday evening.
“It’s a great opportunity to be here in Moose Jaw,” Steven Blaney, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, told the Times-Herald. “I would call this an open and frank discussion about our program and initiatives.”
Together, the trio of Conservatives discussed programs and services available to veterans, as well as presenting a detailed explanation of how military pensions work, before fielding questions from an audience of 30 or 40.
Hawn discussed the structure of military pensions, seeking to dispel the notion that the government “claws back” an amount of money once a retired serviceman or woman reaches 65.
“We paid for a blended pension,” Hawn clarified, in which a smaller portion is paid out from retirement from the forces to the individual’s 65th birthday, and then the second, larger portion is indexed and paid out for the remainder of the pensioner’s life.
But the issue, Hawn said, is that some individuals believe that veterans should recieve what he called a “stacked pension.”
“You have to deal with the facts. ... No government, of any stripe, will ever impliment what people want and what some people insist needs to be done. It just will not happen,” he said. “It violates the pension, it violates the way we paid for it, the cost is enormous, and it opens up every other pension plan to the same kind of expectation. It’s just not going to happen.”
Hawn also responded to a tough question from the audience about the discrepencies in reservist and regular force pensions when an individual has been wounded in action.
“That was an issue and now that is being fixed ... It was clearly recognized as an unfair situation and it is being fixed, but I can’t give you an exact date,” he said.