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January 15, 2019
Standing Committees
Veterans Affairs
Meeting summary: 

Committee Meeting Room
Granville Level
One Government Place
1700 Granville Street
Witness / Agenda
Organizational / Agenda-setting

Meeting topics: 






















Tuesday, January 15, 2019



Legislative Committees Office




Organizational & Agenda Setting






Printed and Published by Nova Scotia Hansard Reporting Services








Ms. Rafah DiCostanzo (Chairman)

Mr. Ben Jessome (Vice-Chairman)

Mr. Brendan Maguire

Mr. Bill Horne

Mr. Hugh MacKay

Hon. Alfie MacLeod

Ms. Kim Masland

Ms. Lisa Roberts

Ms. Tammy Martin


 [Hon. Christopher d’Entremont replaced Hon. Alfie MacLeod.]




In Attendance:


Mrs. Darlene Henry

Legislative Committee Clerk


Mr. Gordon Hebb

Chief Legislative Counsel
















2:00 P.M.



Ms. Rafah DiCostanzo



MADAM CHAIRMAN: Good afternoon everyone. I’d like to call the meeting to order. My name is Rafah DiCostanzo and I am the MLA for Clayton Park West. This is the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs.


            I would like to start by introducing the members. We can start with Mr. Brendan Maguire.


            [The committee members introduced themselves.]


            MADAM CHAIRMAN: Thank you everyone. If you can check your phones to make sure they are all on silent.


            The next thing we should be looking at is the time for the committee. We normally meet on the third Tuesday of every month, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. I just wanted to make sure that the committee members are in agreement to keep the same schedule. Are we okay to date? This is the third Tuesday of the month, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The next meeting will be February 19th, according to this. Ms. Roberts.


            MS. LISA ROBERTS: Sorry, I don’t have a calendar in front of me. Does that put us into March Break in March, or are we looking ahead as far as March?


            MR. BRENDAN MAGUIRE: I think March Break is late this year.


            MS. ROBERTS: It’s the week of the 18th. I just don’t know if that’s the third Tuesday or is that the fourth Tuesday?


            MR. MAGUIRE: I can almost guarantee we will not be here for March Break.


            MADAM CHAIRMAN: It will be March 19th and it will be March Break.


            MS. ROBERTS: So would the committee meet or would it reschedule?


            MR. MAGUIRE: Can we move it outside of March Break?


            MADAM CHAIRMAN: Can we do it now or shall we do it in the next meeting?


            MS. ROBERTS: I think if we could do it now, just because all of us book things up, based on our availabilities, I’d rather have the date saved.


            MADAM CHAIRMAN: For sure, we can move it up to March 12th, if everybody is okay with that, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., the same time. Okay?


Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.


The motion is carried. Thank you, Lisa. Yes, a good call.


            The next thing is to select topics for future meetings and because of prorogation, all past agenda items have been wiped out. Therefore, the committee must reset its agenda, so any old items can be reintroduced as new items.


            The outstanding item was the invitation to the Canadian Youth Remembrance Society. I would like to know if you would like to bring this forward, anybody, as a new topic? Ms. Masland.


            MS. KIM MASLAND: Yes, the PCs will put that forward as a new topic.


            MADAM CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Can I do just one more thing and then we’ll go over the topics. There’s also the outstanding correspondence and an annual report of the committee that will need to be decided on in a motion, if the committee wishes to accept outstanding correspondence and the annual report as these documents dealt with in the past in business. Mr. Jessome, to accept the annual report as well.


            MR. BEN JESSOME: So moved.


            MADAM CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Mr. Jessome.


            Now we can go to the topics, starting with the Liberals, please. Mr. Jessome.


            MR. JESSOME: Madam Chairman, would you like me to go through them one by one?


            MADAM CHAIRMAN: You can do all three of them as one motion.


            MR. JESSOME: Okay, so initially we’ll start with Paws Fur Thought with the witness Medric Cousineau. Secondly, VETS Canada regarding the Tour of Duty Walk, the witness Nova Scotia Branch of VETS Canada. Finally, the Military Family Resource Centre Shearwater. I would note for all of those, we intend to leave it up to the discretion of each of those organizations to select a presenter for the subject - I so move.


            MADAM CHAIRMAN: Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.


            The motion is carried.


            Now we move to the PC caucus. Ms. Masland.


            MS. MASLAND: We are looking at the walk-in clinic for veterans once again and supports for Commonwealth veterans. We’re suggesting a witness be a representative from federal Veterans Affairs. Then, of course, the last is the Canadian Youth Remembrance Society, which was postponed. (Interruption)


            MADAM CHAIRMAN: They only get two.


            MS. MASLAND: Okay, the PCs will put forth supports for Commonwealth veterans, with a witness coming from federal Veterans Affairs, and the Canadian Youth Remembrance Society, which was postponed.


            MADAM CHAIRMAN: Mr. Maguire.


            MR. MAGUIRE: Just for clarification, it’s supports for Commonwealth veterans, and the witness is from federal Veterans Affairs; and Canadian Youth Remembrance Society, and the witnesses are the Canadian Youth Remembrance Society? (Interruptions) Can we just have a moment?


            MADAM CHAIRMAN: To discuss? We’ll do a five-minute recess.


            [2:06 p.m. The committee recessed.]


            [2:07 p.m. The committee reconvened.]


            MADAM CHAIRMAN: The support for Commonwealth veterans is federal, and it would be very costly to bring a witness here. Are you aware of that? Mr. d’Entremont.


            HON. CHRISTOPHER D’ENTREMONT: I think it’s a reasonable request. I understand there are some complexities in getting someone from Veterans Affairs Canada. The main offices are, what, in P.E.I.? It’s not that difficult to get them to come here. I’m sure there’s a regional person who might be available to us to talk about the issues that we’re putting forward. Let’s maybe do a little research on it, what it would be to come here, and we can bring it at the next meeting or one out.


            MADAM CHAIRMAN: Ms. Roberts.


            MS. ROBERTS: I believe that Rear Admiral John Newton, who was commander of the East Coast - I always get the language wrong. His family home is Halifax, but he’s the head of Veterans Affairs in P.E.I., so I expect we ought to be able to arrange (Interruption)


            He’s not with Veterans Affairs anymore?


            MR. D’ENTREMONT: We’ll figure it out, Madam Chairman.


            MADAM CHAIRMAN: We’ll do some research. Mr. Maguire.


            MR. MAGUIRE: As per Mr. d’Entremont, I think we should at least investigate the price because I know in the past it has been an issue about bringing witnesses in and how much it costs to bring a witness here and all that stuff. Before we bring them in, maybe we can get back and have a conversation about potential cost to bring them in. They’re a great subject.


            MADAM CHAIRMAN: Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.


            The motion is carried.


            We also have a little question in regard to the Liberal topic, the Paws Fur Thought. Apparently, that is just the name of the organization. What is the topic? Mr. Jessome.


            MR. JESSOME: If my memory serves itself, and I apologize that it’s not more clear, but perhaps just a general overview of the organization.


            MADAM CHAIRMAN: Knowledge on the program. Thank you very much.


            Next we move to the NDP. Ms. Martin.


            MS. TAMMY MARTIN: Thank you. The federal underspend on veterans’ benefits and impact on local veterans. The witness would be at the discretion of the clerk.


            MADAM CHAIRMAN: Mr. Maguire.


            MR. MAGUIRE: We, as a Party, agree with this topic but I don’t know if this has ever been done before where we leave that to the discretion of the clerk. I think what we’re looking to do is defer this to the next meeting.


            We’re not saying we’re against this - in fact we are very much for this topic - but we would at least like to have a witness brought forward to the committee. It kind of leaves it wide open who the witness would be. We would like to prepare as a Party and as a committee and know, before we bring topics forward, who the witnesses are.


            In the past it seemed like as we’re seeing here, we’re attaching witnesses to it. So we’re not against the topic, in fact we are very much for the topic. It’s not going to delay bringing this topic at all. We’re just asking that you come back in our next meeting with a witness for review for the committee.


            MADAM CHAIRMAN: Ms. Martin.


            MS. MARTIN: May I suggest that the same investigation is done on this as with the other topic, then we can move forward with this agenda item.


            MADAM CHAIRMAN: Mr. d’Entremont.


            MR. D’ENTREMONT: I kind of agree with that. It’s support for Commonwealth veterans, support for veterans, the underspend - it’s still all Veterans Affairs Canada so when we do that research . . .


            MR. MAGUIRE: So are we bringing Veterans Affairs Canada here? Or who are we bringing?


            MR. D’ENTREMONT: Well whoever we bring, I mean it’s the same organizations here, it’s exactly the same, so it’s Veterans Affairs Canada.


            MADAM CHAIRMAN: Mr. Maguire.


            MR. MAGUIRE: So the witness is Veterans Affairs Canada?


            MR. D’ENTREMONT: Yes, Veterans Affairs Canada, based in Summerside, P.E.I., I think, or Charlottetown. I’m sure . . .


            MR. MAGUIRE: The topic is federal underspending on veterans’ benefits and impact on local veterans with the witness being Veterans Affairs? Okay.


            MR. D’ENTREMONT: That research we’re going to do to figure out who is the best person.


            MADAM CHAIRMAN: You need to let me know, for Hansard.


            MR. MAGUIRE: Sorry. All I was asking for is clarification on who the organization is that we’re bringing in, that’s all. I wasn’t asking for an individual, I’m just asking, like are we bringing in Veterans Affairs, are we bringing in someone provincially or are we bringing in a non-profit or stakeholder. If it’s Veterans Affairs we could move forward with that but we just asked for clarification on who the witness organization is.


            MADAM CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Mr. Maguire. Lisa?


            MS. ROBERTS: It strikes me that, especially if we might have to pay some travel or accommodations for someone coming from Summerside with Veterans Affairs Canada, perhaps we could investigate having a witness come for one date with both topics, supports for Commonwealth veterans and the federal underspend on veterans’ benefits being treated during one committee hearing, I think. Likely anybody who can speak to one can also speak to the other.


            MADAM CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Lisa. Is everybody in agreement?


            Thank you, thanks everybody.


            I can’t believe it guys - tout fini. The next meeting date is February 19th and the following one is March 12th. Thank you so much.


            [The committee adjourned at 2:14 p.m.]