Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Reservists still treated poorly compared to regular forces: report

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OTTAWA -- Four years after a landmark report raised the alarm about the care of reservists, the military ombudsman says citizen soldiers are still treated poorly and not given periodic health assessments or consistent immunizations. Pierre Daigle also concludes there remains a wide gulf between the cash settlements reserve members and those in the regular force receive when they lose a limb on duty in Canada.

Daigle released a new report Wednesday that says out of the 12 recommendations made in 2008, only four have been fully implemented, another six were partially achieved and two have seen no action whatsoever.

The ombudsman's office was told by the Harper government at the time it accepted all the recommendations.

"I was expecting a better average in the implementation," Daigle said in an interview. "Everything there was not that difficult to implement. There still seems to be two classes of soldiers in the Canadian Forces, and this is disappointing."

The new report looks at the care reservists are given within Canada, not on overseas missions, which are subject to a different set of criteria.

Jay Paxton, a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay, challenged the suggestion little has been accomplished and said National Defence has been working -- and made progress -- on 10 of the 12 original recommendations.

But Daigle points out there is still no overall health-care framework for reservists, who throughout the Afghan war made up an increasing number of the battle groups sent into the field to fight the Taliban.

The report notes the insurance plan that compensates soldiers for losing limbs has not been amended -- a fact the ombudsman calls "unfair and inequitable" and something MacKay needs to address right away.

Under the existing plan, a reserve member receives only 40 per cent of what full-time soldier gets for the same dismemberment.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 22, 2012 A11

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