Family support critical for military morale
Securing better provincial and territorial government support for Canadian Armed Forces personnel and their families has been a challenge for decades but the latest annual meeting of the parties has renewed reason for optimism.
The Seamless Canada Steering Committee (SCSC), tasked five years ago with finding ways around political and regulatory roadblocks to the interprovincial transfer of health, education, spousal employment, child care and other services wound up its latest annual meeting May 24, this time in Fredericton.
The SCSC is co-chaired by Ontario Liberal MP Bryan May, a former chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs and now Parliamentary Secretary to Defence Minister Anita Anand, and Mary Wilson, a Progressive Conservative member of the New Brunswick legislature who handles military affairs for the province. It also brings in provincial and territorial representatives whose governments would be providing “seamless” services to a community which is frequently relocated.
Since it was founded in 2018, the SCSC has made headway in some areas, including having most provinces and territories waive their 90-day waiting periods for healthcare access. Many, like uncounted other Canadians, have turned to virtual healthcare services amidst a nationwide shortage of family doctors.
Also, employment and training support services have been developed for military spouses and a review of education barriers is leading to development of a Student Mobility Guide.
The SCSC’s latest meeting focused on spousal employment, an issue which has become a long-standing irritant due mainly to provincial professional registries which can see many professionals blocked from employment in their new locations.
May said the launch in June of a Seamless Canada website should give CAF personnel and their families access to a range of key services such as health care, which has become a society-wide issue across the country. Several provinces and territories already have sites for new arrivals, making it easier for them to deal with such mundane but critical requirements as getting a new driver’s licence.
Wilson, who grew up in a military home, said she is “no stranger to the sacrifices made by our Canadian Armed Forces families” and that during her years in provincial politics, hasn’t found another issue that “means more to me.”
Anand acknowledged in a statement that making transitions more seamless not only “improves their quality of life” but also means uniformed personnel have more support at home. She called military families “truly the strength behind the uniform.”