Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Post-Korean War vets' funding threatened: NDP says

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HALIFAX -- Provinces stand to lose millions of dollars in federal funding for the care of veterans if Ottawa doesn't revise a policy to ensure those who served after the Korean War are looked after, the NDP said Friday.

Veterans affairs critic Peter Stoffer said the way the Veterans Health Care Regulations are currently laid out, the federal government will download the cost of long-term care beds for veterans to the provinces after all the veterans from the Second World War and Korean War die.

Stoffer called on the government to change the regulation so it covers long-term care beds for veterans of more recent conflicts.

The Nova Scotia MP used his province as an example of the potential lose of funding, saying the federal government spends $41 million annually to run 334 long-term care beds.

Stoffer said he has not been given figures for other provinces, but he adds they, too, can expect to bear a large burden.

"Imagine... the download cost to Quebec, Ontario, B.C., with larger populations and larger veteran populations," Stoffer said.

"We find that absolutely the wrong way to go."

Stoffer added that he believes the federal government is morally responsible to provide funding for veterans' care, regardless of what war they served in.

But Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney said the government will continue to provide long-term care for veterans, including those who have served in more recent wars.

"We intend to clearly provide long-term care to our veterans as long as they need it, wherever they need it," Blaney said.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 14, 2012 A22

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