Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Alex Ruff continues to press the Federal Government for more help for veterans and for answers about the recent banning of "Military Style" assault firearms.
In the House of Commons Tuesday (June 16th) Ruff questioned Public Safety Minister Bill Blair on the recent ban's usefulness in preventing gun crime.
Blair argues the banned 'military style' assault firearms' designs originated for military use to kill people, adding "They're not things to be played with in civilian society."
Ruff says, "I'm going to continue to speak out against it until the government actually comes forward with some evidence and some statistics that actually show how any of this is going to actually help solve any problems in Canada and actually reduce gun violence. I'm all about reducing gun violence in the country."
With the firearm ban legislation having been passed back on May 1st, Ruff says there are groups, including the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights (CCFR) which filed an application in Federal Court in opposition to the ban. It's asking the Court to strike down the amended regulation that classifies firearms. It's also asking the Court for an injunction staying the effects of the regulation and ban.
Ruff says, "There's all sorts of people donating money to it including local sport shooters groups," adding, "They're reaching into their pocketbooks because it's not going to be cheap."
Ruff, who sits on the House of Commons' Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs also asked Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay if his office has a plan to address the disability benefit claims backlog.
Numbers from Veterans Affairs say as of September 2019, there were over 44,000 pending disability applications. The department says there are roughly 23,000 complete applications in the backlog right now that have been sitting longer than the standard time.
Ruff says a plan to address that, was promised by the Deputy Minister back in March, 'Within the month.' On May 29th, Ruff sent a letter to the Ministry asking again, for the plan but says he hasn't received a response.
Minister MacAulay's reply in the House of Commons Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic Tuesday, was that just under $90 million is earmarked in the Supplementary Estimates for the department to hire more staff and for, "Improving the process and making sure that we attack the backlog in an appropriate manner."
MacAulay added, "I'm sure my honourable colleague wants an appropriate plan, and he would be fully aware that this just under 90 million dollars will make a big difference in the plan to attack the backlog."
But with the absence of a document being sent to members of the Standing Committee on Veteran's Affairs, Ruff says, any plan or outline at all is better than nothing, "I'm not looking for this comprehensive textbook...it could be a page or two long, here are the steps we're going to take, here's what we're doing."
He explains, "Part of that plan could be, we need additional money," says Ruff, offering ideas of using it to hire more people, automate some of the claims processes and rubber stamp hearing loss claims for those with audiograms that show hearing loss.
He says, "We were looking for a plan that didn't necessarily need to have costs associated with it...that would be ideal, but the one that we asked for was just a plan on how they plan to address it. It can be with timelines, and public. That is what they committed to doing within the month."
The Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs is suspended due to COVID-19, only a few emergency ones are still operating, "There are nine committees currently sitting and yet, they haven't been fully enabled to normal committee status so they can't demand witnesses, they can't demand documents," says Ruff.
This time of year, Parliament breaks for summer until September aside a from couple of COVID-19 sittings in July and August.