A record number of veterans are waiting to receive benefits as the Trudeau government fails to make progress on the backlog of applications.
At the end of September, more than 44,000 applications from veterans applying for benefits were sitting in Veterans Affairs Canada’s queue, an increase of 10% from six months earlier.
While a number of these applications are in the queue because they were incomplete, since March 2019 the number of complete applications waiting for review rose to 6,300 or 37%.
Over a third of the applications in the queue have been waiting for four months or longer.
“The fact of the matter is veterans deserve to receive their benefits in a timely manner and the backlog is not acceptable,” Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay said in an interview.
Since elected in 2015, the Liberal government has hired hundreds of new employees at Veterans Affairs and promised hundreds of millions in funding for veterans.
These additional measures appear to have not made a difference in the lives of veterans.
In 2019, veterans did not see a penny of the $105 million promised to them by Justin Trudeau. The sum remained untouched, despite being earmarked for Veterans Affairs Canada.
In 2018, Global News reported that the Liberals allowed $372 million they had promised to veterans to go unspent during their first three years in office.
In a town hall in 2018, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a veteran that his government was fighting a veterans’ rights group in court because they were asking for too much money.
“Why are we still fighting against certain veterans’ groups in court? Because they are asking for more than we are able to give right now,” Trudeau said.
MacAulay says Veterans Affairs will have to work through the backlog without new assistance.
“Of course I always want more money,” MacAulay said.
“But what we have to do is deal with the money that we have and make sure we put the system together as efficiently as possible. … I certainly couldn’t indicate what we asked for — or what we’re going to get — in the budget.”
In 2018, Veterans Affairs Canada failed to meet 15 out of their 24 service standard targets.