Recent reports revealed Veterans Affairs Canada is set to lose one third of their staff tasked with clearing the backlog of disability benefit claims that has delayed supports for Veterans for years. The Royal Canadian Legion is calling on the Government of Canada to uphold its promise to clear the backlog that reportedly has 34,000 Veterans still waiting in dire need to receive benefits and supports. Read the letter to the Prime Minister below.
16 February 2022
Right Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
Prime Minister Trudeau:
May you remain well.
I am alarmed by recent media reports revealing that crucial funds needed to help end the current Veteran disability claims backlog may not exist. It was astonishing to learn there is no tangible end in sight to this situation and we might actually see a setback in the progress that was being made.
The Minister of Veterans Affairs could not confirm whether all adjudicators specifically hired to tackle this mess will be retained past March 2022. This is especially concerning since clearing the backlog is listed as the number one priority in your mandate letter to the Minister. We ask that funds be openly guaranteed to enable these adjudicators to keep working, and to bring on even more assistance.
It was particularly distressing to hear of the 2020 warning by the Parliamentary Budget Officer that a longer commitment to temporary staff would be needed to eliminate the backlog by 2023. It appears that astute warning was not heeded, and we understand that some vital temporary staff moved on due to the uncertainty of their jobs.
Legion Service Officers assert that our Veterans are still waiting much longer than is acceptable for disability claim decisions to be made. While they await these decisions, treatment is not accessible through any VAC benefits and their health continues to deteriorate. This is indefensible and cannot continue in good conscience.
Your government rolled out a pandemic plan within a very short period to assist Canadians in financial need, so we know it can be nimble and quick action is possible. Why must injured Veterans keep waiting for a similar commitment that will finally end the backlog that is further harming them?
We ask for immediate action to end this insufferable delay for our Veterans.
We stand ready to discuss and help.
cc: Minister of Veterans Affairs