Vancouver Island MP and NDP Critic for Veterans Rachel Blaney’s proposal suggesting veterans be excused from repaying Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) until after their disability benefits are processed has been rejected today by MP’s in the House of Commons.
Blaney presented a motion to ensure veterans are not required to repay CERB they’ve received until after their disability benefits has been processed and paid by Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC).
In a statement Blaney said that,”Incredibly, Members of Parliament from each of the other three recognized parties rejected the proposal.”
According to Blaney, veterans applied to CERB because there was a severe backlog in receiving their disability benefits. Previously the North Island- Powell River MP has asked federal Minister of Veteran affairs Lawrence MacAulay to not fine the veterans not characterize their claims as fraudulent.
“The federal government has been failing them so badly, these veterans had to apply for the CERB just to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads.”
There are currently over 45,000 veterans waiting for their disability benefit applications to be processed. A recent Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) report requested by Blaney confirmed that clearing the backlog in a year would require VAC to retain all their current temporary hires and hire an additional 392 staff.
The motion Blaney tabled today took the PBO report into account and sought to ensure that an additional injustice wouldn’t be piled on for those veterans in urgent need, already being treaded unfairly by the Canadian government.
“The Minister’s current plan is to clear ‘most of the backlog by 2022.’ Veterans shouldn’t have to wait any longer than they already have to get the help they are owed. These are people who have served this country, and now they’re just doing what they can to navigate a broken system,” said Blaney.
“The CERB was a chance for vets to support themselves and their families while getting the treatments they need. Veterans are absolutely not responsible for the situation at VAC and shouldn’t be forced to pay for the governments mistakes.”