Veterans Ombudsman calls on Veterans Affairs Canada to improve Veterans Funeral and Burial Program
December 5, 2011
Ottawa, Ontario – Today, Guy Parent, Canada’s Veterans Ombudsman, renewed his call on Veterans Affairs Canada to implement changes to the Veterans’ Funeral and Burial Program.
“The Office of the Veterans Ombudsman issued its report, Serve with Honour, Depart with Dignity, almost three years ago – and Veterans Affairs Canada has acted on only one of the seven recommendations. It is unconscionable that Veterans Affairs Canada continues to stall. Veterans Affairs Canada has stated that over 1500 older Veterans pass away every month. Will they wait until the whole generation has passed away before they act?”
The report called on Veterans Affairs Canada to raise the ceiling for Veterans’ funeral and burial expenses to reflect industry standards. The average cost of a funeral in Canada today is between $7,000 and $10,000, yet Veterans Affairs Canada provides only $3,600 for funeral and burial-related services, an amount that has not changed since 2001. The Department of National Defence and the RCMP currently provide up to $12,700 in the event of the death of a serving member.
The report also calls on Veterans Affairs Canada to extend the program to all Veterans and to simplify the administration of the program.
“Currently, the families of eligible Veterans are required to plan the funeral of their loved ones from an itemized list, as if the funeral was a coupon-cutting exercise. The current administrative demands place a heavy burden on grieving families.
“It is ironic that on the one hand, Veterans Affairs Canada has said that they are able to reduce their budget as a result of a decline in their client base, and yet there are clearly underfunded programs, like the Funeral and Burial Program, that are not sufficiently resourced to meet the needs of Veterans and their families.
“Veterans who have served and sacrificed for their country deserve to depart with dignity and respect. We would hope that Veterans Affairs Canada takes this opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to support Canada’s Veterans to the end.”