The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister for La Francophonie, on May 8th, joined representatives from St. John Ambulance Canada to announce two partnerships to research on the benefit of using dogs and horses to assist Veterans in dealing with mental health issues.

“Our Government is exploring every option for improving the care and support available for Canada’s Veterans and their families,” said Minister Blaney. “I have heard Veterans across Canada loud and clear, we know there is interest in animal therapy and we are exploring its use for Veterans.”

“Each year, 2,500 St. John Therapy Dog teams provide over 180,000 hours of service to children, the elderly, the lonely, and the sick across Canada, enriching their lives,” said Mairi Arthur, Chancellor of St. John Ambulance. “We are excited about the pilot project being supported by Veterans Affairs Canada and we hope that this research will help contribute to improving the quality of life of our Veterans.”

“Can Praxis is very pleased to be part of this initiative,” said Steve Critchley, Co-Founder, Can Praxis. “Horses respond to human body language. Our staff helps Veterans and their spouses in learning about and understanding the horse’s reaction. It is this innovative combination that helps put theory into practice and reduces stress. This helps the families as they fine tune their relationship.”

Veterans Affairs Canada will partner with St. John Ambulance Canada and Can Praxis, who will work to evaluate the use of dogs and horses to improve the overall mental health and well-being of Veterans. Can Praxis has partnered with the University of Saskatchewan and St. John Ambulance with McGill University to measure the benefits of their respective programs.

“I am heartened to see that Veterans Affairs Canada is listening to Veterans with mental health illness,” said Wayne Johnston, Founder, Wounded Warriors Canada. “It is a huge step to study the benefits of therapy dogs and of equine therapy—two programs that Wounded Warriors Canada is proud to help fund and will continue to support in the years ahead.”

Earlier in the week, Minister Blaney recognized Mental Health Week in Canada by announcing the launch of the new PTSD Coach Canada mobile app and a two-year study involving 140 clinicians to examine how effectively they are using cognitive processing therapy to treat adults with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Both St. John Ambulance and Can Praxis will receive a contribution of $25,000 to advance this important research.

For more information on Veterans Affairs Canada’s programs and services, visit