Some interesting developments in the past week regarding the status of social contracts. The existence of a social contract to protect our veterans is being challenged by government lawyers. This government has retained lawyers to fight a court challenge initiated by a group of veterans as a way to receive services and supports now being denied. And while this goes on we have a Minister Responsible for Veterans Affairs stating the opposite of what these government hired lawyers are presenting in court, on his behalf. And why is this even an issue?
These vets should not have to fight for services that have been eroded after having suffered in a fight they were send to participate in by our country. To me it is implicit that a social contract exists and the double speak Minister Fantino is engaged in should be an embarrassment to this government. Every politician involved should be ashamed of themselves but instead they use tax payer dollars to fight a group of vets trying to defend what should already be theirs.
The reason we have a Charter of Rights, or so I thought, is so people don’t have to continually fight for the same thing over and over again. It should go without saying that this social contract exists. Our government did send these Canadians into a war zone under the believe that they would be taken care of should anything go wrong. Does that really require a signed agreement? However everything with this government appears to be riddled with “small print”. I am being overly polite when I reference “small print” since often it is not there at all. Like the newly announced $200 million this government says is earmarked for veterans services (except they failed to mention it is over 50 years).
I’ve been listening for the better part of my life to the promise of social contracts starting back when I was three. As a polio survivor we were promised by the government of the day we would never have to sweat the added expense associated with living with a disability. They made this commitment, in part, because the government of the day delayed almost 18 months in releasing the polio vaccine. The same vaccine developed in Canada and used in the States except the testing began in the States over a year before Canada. The first vaccines were used in the States in 1954 (Jonas Salk had actually vaccinated his own children in 1953) but was not used in Canada until 1955. The social contract of that day was that all polio survivor would be helped out financially thus avoiding the additional costs associated with disabilities.
The government established a similar social contract with the survivors of Thalidomide babies. That very case was the recent focus of a national debate resulting in a unanimous vote in our House of Parliament to ensure these survivors receive fair and “full support” for their condition. After all the Thalidomide issue was well known by the time the government of that day acted. It should go without saying that a certain level of social contract exists here.
However we saw the same issue in the 80’s with the tainted blood issue. This resulted in over 2000 recipients of blood transfusion contracting HIV or Hepatitis. These survivors were also given a social contract but, unfortunately, are dying faster than the government is settling with them. That’s almost 30 years after the fact.
My experience as well as my ability to pay attention to this government cautions me when it comes to actual outcomes. Words are easy to use when pandering for votes however past results shows that words can mean so little. It’s the actions that follow those words that I pay attention to. Ask any vet what their belief was over how they would be treated upon return in need of services. I will be asking the Thalidomide babies this same thing a year from now.
Do social contracts exist? Damn right they do! The real question should be will our government stand behind the social contract to the vets and will they turn their motion into more than just words in order to honour a fifty year old social contract regarding the Thalidomide babies? They certainly haven’t with the polio survivors!
Just one man’s opinion!