Some injured service men and women have applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit program because the extreme backlog of disability benefit applications at Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) caused lengthy delays and made it impossible for them to get the financial support they need.
“Veterans applied for the CERB because they were struggling to make ends meet while waiting an unreasonably long time for their benefits from VAC. The government is very aware of these delays but they’ve been slow to respond,” said North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney, NDP Critic for Veterans. “The Liberals encouraged people to apply for CERB and said they’d figure out specifics later but now they’re threatening to criminalize people for defrauding the system. It’s completely irresponsible to tell people it’s OK to apply and then threaten them when they follow the government’s advice.”
Blaney wrote to Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay to express veterans’ concerns, and to get assurances that those who applied wouldn’t be punished for accessing the CERB instead of waiting an indeterminate amount of time for the disability benefit they’re supposed to receive.
“The government should never have made these veterans wait for their benefits in the first place and now they’re dealing with the stress of being threatened as criminals,” said Blaney. “Canada’s injured service women and men have every right to receive support after their sacrifices, and they did what they could to work within a broken system – they did what the government told them to do.”