Veterans Ombudsman calls for timely and transparent decisions for Canada's ill and injured Veterans

Ottawa, ON - September 12, 2018

September 12, 2018 – Ottawa, ON – Canada’s Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent released today his report, Meeting Expectations: Timely and Transparent Decisions for Canada’s Ill and Injured Veterans. The report focuses on the number one complaint the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman (OVO) hears from Veterans – the length of time it takes to get a disability benefit decision from Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC). The report’s seven recommendations are supported by evidence-based findings that, if implemented, would enable VAC to better meet the needs of all Veterans and their families in a timelier manner.

“It is taking too long for Veterans to get a disability benefit decision from VAC and this is negatively impacting the health needs and financial security of many Veterans and their families,” said Mr. Parent. “Along with the increased frustration and stress, some Veterans have no access to health care services and financial support during these long wait times, the gateway to other VAC benefits and services is often firmly shut until there is a decision.”

The Ombudsman is particularly worried about the fact that not all groups of Veterans are being treated equitably. “Women are waiting longer than men; Francophone applicants are waiting longer then Anglophone applicants,” stated Mr. Parent. “This is completely unfair and unacceptable. All Veterans deserve timely decisions, regardless of factors such as gender and language. Any differences in wait times for decisions should be based on need – and need alone.

Furthermore, the report finds that Veterans with unmet healthcare needs may wait longer for a decision than others, whose needs are already met. This is because of discrepancies in the way the Service Standard Start Date – or the date the “clock starts ticking” – is established.  Additionally, access to healthcare benefits is inequitable: while health care expenses of Veterans under the Pension Act are reimbursable going back 90 days prior to the date of application, those under the Veterans Well-being Act only receive coverage on the date of decision.

Veterans deserve to know when a decision can be reasonably expected. If it will take longer than VAC’s 16-week service standard, they deserve to know why it will take longer and when their revised decision date will be.   

“Excessive turnaround times, compounded by a growing backlog, will continue to be a top complaint of Veterans and one of the biggest challenges faced by VAC until significant changes can be made to processes, systems, and approaches to service delivery,” concluded the Veterans Ombudsman.   

The seven new recommendations build on the 64 made in the last 10 years – as noted in the Veterans Ombudsman’s 2018 Report Card – of which 46 or 72% have been implemented or partially implemented.

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