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Veterans: 28 Apr 2019
Labrador vet 'stunned' by Veterans Affairs decision keeping her out of N.S. care facility
A military veteran living in Labrador City says she's been told by Veterans Affairs that she can't be admitted to a veterans' retirement home close to family in Nova Scotia and can only live in a home in St. John's.
|After living in Labrador City for more than 50 years, Joan Robertson wants to move to a veterans' home near family in Nova Scotia, however she says Veterans Affairs Canada has told her that's not possible. (Jennifer Kennedy/Submitted)|
Joan Robertson, 96, served with the Auxiliary Territorial Service during the Second World War, the "part of the army in which Queen Elizabeth served."
After the war, Robertson says she and her husband moved to Labrador City, where she's lived for more than 50 years.
She now lives in an apartment in her son's home, but because her son often travels for work and her health is on the decline, Robertson says she'd like to be in Halifax.
"I am very, very shaky, my hands are likely to throw things … and my back is very, very painful, I have to use a walking stick to get around," she said.
"I know this is not going to get any better, and I just wanted to be put on a list to go into the Camp Hill facility in Halifax, where I have my family and I have friends, and I have been going there for four months, every year, for the last 20 years."
But because she has lived and paid taxes in Newfoundland and Labrador, Robertson said she's been told by Veterans Affairs Canada that she can only move into the Caribou Memorial Veteran's Pavilion in St. John's, where she has no family and friends nearby.
"You might as well drop me in the middle of a desert island, because I do not know the island of Newfoundland," she said.
'This is disgraceful'
Robertson said she was shocked by the decision.
"I was kind of stunned, I thought, just a minute — and I'm talking about modern veterans too now — they fought and served under one flag, a Canadian flag," she said.
"They did not fight or serve under provinces ... and I thought, this is disgraceful."
Robertson's daughter Jennifer Kennedy, who now lives in British Columbia, agrees.
"You fight for Canada, she's a citizen of Canada. It shouldn't matter where you ask to live, you should have that right," she said.
"You're treated like you're a number — you will live in St. John's and that's it. That's a ridiculous statement to make."
Kennedy said her brother has been calling Veterans Affairs to try and arrange a space for their mother in Halifax, but was told it wasn't possible, despite beds being available at the facility.
"My brother, after many conversations with Ottawa and everywhere else, finally got a call from St. John's and was told nope, she had to stay, and then got a follow-up letter … under no condition could she get into Nova Scotia, she had to go to St. John's," she said.
Veterans Affairs 'committed' to veterans
In a statement to CBC News, Veterans Affairs said that under the terms of the Privacy Act, the department is "unable to comment on individual circumstances."
The statement read to be placed in long term care, veterans must apply for support, be assessed by a healthcare professional as needing round the clock care and meet "service eligibility criteria."
Alex Wellstead, press secretary to the minister of Veterans Affairs, said the department is "committed to ensuring veterans get the benefits and services they need and we're always available to offer assistance."
Robertson said since speaking with CBC, she was contacted by Veterans Affairs on Thursday looking for information. She said she was told she would need a medical assessment and could be considered for the Camp Hill facility in Halifax.
In the meantime, Robertson said she's planning to live with her son in Nova Scotia for the time being with hopes that she'll be considered for a space at Camp Hill after living in the province for a few months.
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