Union Calls for Permanent Fix to Problems at Veterans Affairs Canada

For Immediate Release
September 28, 2020

The union representing employees at Veterans Affairs Canada is welcoming a report from the Parliamentary Budget Office on disability benefit processing by the department as support for their long-standing position that short-term measures will not fix the problems facing Veterans and the families when it comes to getting the services they need.

“What this report shows is that yet another ‘band-aid’ approach will not only not clear up the backlog, it may even make it worse,” said Virginia Vaillancourt, National President of the Union of Veterans’ Affairs Employees (UVAE). “It is another temporary solution to the permanent problems and concerns facing Canada’s Veterans and those who serve them.”

The union noted that the department still had hundreds of temporary employees that were hired under so-called surge funding and that it wasn’t clear what would happen to that group of employees as another cadre of temporary employees were brought on stream. “Veterans are not ‘temporary’,” said Vaillancourt. “Temporary resourcing is not the answer. Permanent resourcing is the only way to get out of this desperate cycle.”

What the PBO Reports shows is that the current plan will only fix about half of the problem with the backlog in disability benefit processing and that according to the union is just one of the backlogs and delays within the department. UVAE claims that there are backlogs and delays in almost every section of the department. Trying to fix just one will acerbate bottlenecks in intake, processing and resolving Veteran’s issues and concerns.

Even after this particular backlog is eliminated, which the PBO notes will take double the resources allocated, many if not all of the Veterans will move on to other programs and services through VAC, and will need support there as well. The union called for VAC to be fully resourced with full-time personnel to meet these needs. “We have Case Managers dealing with 40-50 cases each right now and that will only get worse as more applications are approved. They need help right now to assist Veterans and their families,” said Vaillancourt.

“It’s time for a permanent solution, a holistic solution that will serve the needs of Veterans and their families,” said Vaillancourt. “The current plan is one small step in the right direction, but we have miles to go to create a system that treats Veterans and their families better. Our union and our members have some suggestions that can help create that solution. Our Veterans deserve better.”

Virginia Vaillancourt,
National President,
Union of Veterans’ Affairs Employees