November 23, 2014 - 9:33 AM
B.C. INTERIOR OPERATIONAL STRESS CLINIC IN KELOWNA
OTTAWA - The federal government has announced $200 million over six years to support mental health needs of military members, veterans and their families.
The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces also announced Sunday that an additional $16.7 million in ongoing funds will be available to support forces members, veterans, and their families.
The government says some of the money will fund completely digitizing the health records of all serving personnel, investing in brain imaging technology and extending access to Military Family Resource Centres.
It also says there will be additional investments in research aimed at finding better treatments and faster recoveries for serving members and veterans with mental health conditions.
Among the areas of research that will be undertaken is looking at how forces members transition from military to civilian life with an emphasis on those with service in Afghanistan.
The research will also look at the causes and prevention of veteran suicides, and ways to improve the recognition, diagnosis, treatment and well-being of veterans with mental health conditions.
The announcement says the Canadian Forces will hire additional staff to help educate serving members and their families in managing their reactions to stress, and recognizing mental duress.
The announcement comes just days after veterans learned that the federal department responsible for their care and benefits was unable to spend upwards of $1.1 billion of its budget over seven years.
Like other departments unable to spend their appropriation within the budget year, Veterans Affairs was required to return its unspent funds to the treasury.
The Royal Canadian Legion wrote Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino on Thursday, demanding a detailed accounting of which programs had lapsed funding and why.
The figures put before Parliament show the veterans department handed back a relatively small percentage of its budget in 2005-06, but shortly after the Conservatives were elected the figure spiked to 8.2 per cent of allocation.
Also announced Sunday was a new operational stress injury clinic, slated to open in Halifax in the fall of 2015.
In addition to the clinic in Halifax, Veterans Affairs Canada will expand satellite services in nine locations throughout the country, which are funded by Veterans Affairs, but are operated by provincial health authorities. Kelowna will be getting one of the new satellite clinics.
There are currently outpatient clinics in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, London, Ont., Ottawa, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Que., Quebec City, and Fredericton.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2014