Retired colonel Neil Russell, who despite his 30 years of service is not entitled to a long-term care bed designated for veterans, is now paying a high price for his care.

Last week, CTV reported that Veterans Affairs Canada had told Russell they had found a solution, but it turns out it comes with a big price tag.

Russell had surgery a few months ago and is being cared for at Parkwood Hospital. He is wheelchair-bound and cannot go home because he requires assistance to get in and out of his bed and his wheelchair.

He describes the call from a director general at Veterans Affairs, “It was just a short call and she said, what I think is good news, ‘We have a room for you in Parkwood.’ And so I said ‘Great, thank you very much,’ and I didn’t ask more questions.”

But it turns out the solution was to keep Russell in his bed in the rehabilitation area of the hospital, not to move him to one of the dozens of vacant long-term care beds for veterans.

A 30-year-old Veterans Affairs Canada policy states that only First World War, Second World War and Korean War veterans and those directly injured while serving are entitled to those spots.

And the cost of staying put? “In my case it’s $1,700 a month,” Russell says.

While the stay is just to bridge the gap while he waits for a long-term care bed, that wait could take a year.

London-Fanshawe NDP MP Irene Mathyssen says “This federal government needs to change the mandate regarding veterans’ hospitals and include all veterans – everyone - post-Korea, all those people who served in peacekeeping missions.”

There are no plans in place at the moment to make any changes to the program, but Russell hopes change will come not just for him, but because “There are all sorts of veterans that need help just like me.”

In a statement received late Thursday afternoon, Jean-Christophe de le Rue, a spokespoerson for Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney says:

“Veterans’ long-term care benefits and services are geared to those who have suffered a service related injury.


"To answer your question, a low-income Veteran who suffers from a service-related medical condition where long-term care is required, benefit from these services with no out of pocket costs for their accommodation. Furthermore, Veterans benefit from our world-class medical system and have no out of pocket costs for their health care needs.


"Finally, spouses of Veterans who move into a long-term care facility, because of a service-related condition, will continue to receive grounds maintenance and housekeeping for their homes. Canadians expect that those men and women who are injured in the line of duty are provided with the best care and services available and by working with our provincial partners, we are doing just that.”