FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Canadian Alliance persistence pays off for veterans' widows
OTTAWA - After months of pressure from the Official Opposition, the Minister of Veterans' Affairs today relented in his opposition to extend benefits to 23,000 widows who had been arbitrarily excluded from the Veterans' Independence Program (VIP).
Betty Hinton, MP for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, in responding to today's announcement said, "This is an encouraging victory in a battle that never should have had to be fought. Year after year, the Canadian Alliance has held the government to account for its deplorable neglect of veterans and their widows. I hope that the Minister's words translate quickly into cash in hand for those widows, so that this Remembrance Day they don't feel left out in the cold yet again."
VIP benefits help veterans pay for such as grounds-keeping and housework. Prior to this spring, on the death of a veteran the benefit was extended to the surviving widow for 12 months. The government decided in June to extend the benefit for life, but only to those veterans' widows whose spouses died after last May 12, leaving 23,000 widows without the additional benefits.
Ms. Hinton praised caucus colleague Roy Bailey, who has written letters to more than a thousand widows who were adversely affected by the government decision to cut their VIP benefit. "Roy has worked tirelessly on this issue on behalf of the Canadian Alliance, and it is great to see his efforts on behalf of the widows paying off."
"We have learned not to get too excited about Liberal promises until we see concrete results. The Canadian Alliance will continue to monitor this issue until there is action taken on this decision today. We want to know the funds actually get to the veterans' widows."
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