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Backlog of veterans waiting for benefits will take years to clear: report

While Veterans Affairs Canada claims to process benefits applications within 16 weeks, statistics show that 63% of veterans must wait longer.

The backlog of veterans looking for disability benefits will take years to process according to a report obtained by Blacklock’s Reporter.

While Veterans Affairs Canada claims to process benefits applications within 16 weeks, statistics show that 63% of veterans must wait longer. At the current rate, the Parliamentary Budget Office determined it would take three years or longer to process the current backlog.

“We foresee the backlog will be approximately 40,000 applications by the end of fiscal year 2022,” the PBO wrote in a recent report.

“Our projections show that, without additional resources, the number of pending applications for disability benefits would have reached approximately 140,000 by that time.”

Between 2017 and 2020, the backlog of claims jumped from 20,693 to 49,216.

To address the backlog within a year, the PBO report says Veterans Affairs would need an additional $103 million from cabinet.

In a statement to CBC, a spokesman for Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay dismissed the report, saying that the department’s current plan will address the backlog.

“We know that too many veterans are waiting too long for decisions on their applications and that we can and must do better,” said spokesman Cameron McNeill.

“[The report] does not take into account the many steps that Veterans Affairs is taking to make the process faster and more efficient. We’re confident in the plan we put forward to tackle the backlog, and we will continue to do everything we can to address it.”

While the issue of veterans not receiving benefits in a timely manner has dramatically increased under the Trudeau government, funds promised by Trudeau to veterans have failed to be disbursed.

The Trudeau government earmarked $105 million for Veterans Affairs in the last federal budget, but left the sum unspent.

In 2018, it was determined that the Trudeau government left $372 million in funding for veterans unspent during their first three years in power.

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