Veterans Ombudsman says Veterans have been heard

Ottawa, ON - March 23, 2016

Commenting on yesterday’s Budget, Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent said: “This was the Government’s first opportunity to put its mandate on the books, and I believe that it is off to a promising start for Veterans and their families.”

Budget 2016 announced significant enhancements to financial benefits for Veterans including increasing the Disability Award to a maximum of $360,000 and the Earnings Loss Benefit to 90 percent of gross pre-release military salary. “I am pleased that the Government has responded to the recommendations of my Office and the Veterans’ community in these areas, and in particular, to my recommendations on the Permanent Impairment Allowance (to be renamed the Career Impact Allowance),” said Mr. Parent. “I am hopeful that this will better reflect the intent of this benefit.”    

Concerning service delivery, reopening the nine offices plus an additional office in Surrey, expanding outreach to Veterans in the North and hiring additional case managers may help Veterans, but it does not necessarily address the process challenges or make the experience less complex or more transparent for Veterans and their families. “Veterans Affairs Canada fundamentally needs to change the way it delivers services to Veterans,” said Mr. Parent. “It needs to look at service delivery from a Veterans’ perspective, and working with the Veterans' community is a step in the right direction.” 

“Although many of the initiatives announced in the Budget may indirectly support Veterans’ families, no action was taken to provide financial compensation for family members who give up their employment to become the primary caregivers for severely impaired Veterans,” cautioned the Ombudsman.  “This is one of my priorities and an important way to ensure that our most vulnerable Veterans and their families are supported.”

“I believe that the Government is moving in the right direction to shape tomorrow for Canada’s Veterans and their families,” concluded Mr. Parent. “While Budget 2016 is a promising start, we need a clear action plan and an evidence-based evaluation approach to determine what the impact of these changes will be on Veterans and their families.” 

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