North Island-Powell River MP, Rachel Blaney. (Marissa Tiel/ Campbell River Mirror)

Vancouver Island MP’s proposal in support of veterans rejected by MPs in House of Commons

NDP MP and Veterans Critic Rachel Blaney had proposed that veterans be excused from CERB payments until they receive their disability benefits

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 was rejected Thursday by MPs 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 have been processed and paid by Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC).

In a statement Blaney said, “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 Minister of Veteran Affairs Lawrence MacAulay to not fine the veterans and not characterize their claims as fraudulent.

READ MORE: Veterans should not be punished for getting CERB’ – MP Rachel Blaney

“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 Thursday 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 treated 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 government’s mistakes.”

Veterans affairs

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