Minister of Veterans Affairs Seamus O’Regan rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. The federal government says it shortchanged hundreds of thousands of veterans and their survivors over seven years, and is preparing to compensate them a total of $165 million. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Feds promise $165 million in compensation after shortchanging 270,000 veterans

Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan revealed the error and compensation package Monday

Repaying hundreds of thousands of disabled veterans and their survivors for a calculating error that deprived them of some of their pensions for seven years will cost $165 million, the federal government says.

Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan revealed the error and compensation package Monday, on the eve of Remembrance Day, even as the federal NDP called on the government to ensure all money earmarked for veterans’ benefits is actually spent.

Veterans Affairs Canada miscalculated adjustments to the disability pensions of 270,000 veterans, RCMP members and their survivors between 2003 and 2010 because it didn’t properly account for a change in personal tax exemptions, O’Regan said.

Most of the affected veterans were shortchanged several hundred dollars, though some lost thousands of dollars because of the error, which O’Regan said was only recently flagged to the government by veterans’ ombudsman Guy Parent.

While the minister promised that all veterans would be compensated, payments aren’t expected to begin until 2020, which O’Regan blamed on the sheer number of Canadians affected by the problem.

Complicating matters is the fact as many as 120,000 of the affected veterans, notably those who served in the Second World War and in Korea, have died. O’Regan’s spokesman, Alex Wellstead, said their survivors and estates will still be eligible.

News of the error and compensation came as the New Democrats tabled a motion on Monday designed to pressure the Liberals to spend $372 million that was earmarked for veterans’ benefits in recent years but wasn’t spent.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said veterans have received inadequate assistance and faced barriers when it comes to accessing services and support for far too long because money approved by Parliament ends up going unused and being returned to the treasury.

The routine of letting money “lapse” needs to end, Singh said, which is why the NDP decided to use a rare opposition day to introduce a non-binding motion calling on the government to roll unspent money into budgets for the next year.

Members of Parliament were scheduled to debate the motion into the evening on Monday and vote on it Tuesday.

Successive governments have defended their inability to spend all the money set aside for veterans, saying they often ask Parliament for too much money to ensure there isn’t a shortfall when former service members need assistance.

O’Regan was to make the same point in the House of Commons on Monday night, saying in prepared remarks: “Whether 10 veterans come forward or 10,000, no veteran who is eligible for a benefit will be turned away because we do not have the funds.

“If a veteran is eligible for a benefit, they get it. When that pendulum swings the other way and there are fewer veterans seeking a particular benefit; the money stays in the consolidated revenue.”

Critics, however, have blamed the lapses on long wait times and other barriers that make it difficult for veterans to access services, and said the unspent money could be used to help veterans in a variety of other ways.

— with reporting by Janice Dickson

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Highlights from Eckville Town Council

Council voted to pass multiple items on their Nov. 13 agenda

Eckville looking to prohibit cannabis use in public

The First and Second Reading of the Cannabis Consumption Bylaw were carried by Council on Nov. 13

Eckville Sr Eagles fall to Devon Barons

The Senior Eagles faced off against the Barons at home on Nov. 10

Holiday cheer to light up Eckville

The annual tree lighting will take place on Nov. 22

Remembrance Day in Eckville

The service was held at 10:45 a.m. at the Eckville Community Centre

First Nation marks ‘milestone’ land deal at Alberta ceremony

Lubicon Lake First Nation Chief Billy-Joe Laboucan signed treaty last month

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

Canadians more prepared for weather disaster than financial one: poll

RBC recommends people check their bank app as often as the weather app

Supreme Court hears case on migrant detainees’ rights to challenge incarceration

Currently, migrants who do not hold Canadian citizenship can only challenge detention through an immigration tribunal or a judicial review.

Canada Post issues new offer to employees as eBay calls on Ottawa to end strikes

Ebay is calling on the federal government to legislate an end to the Canada Post contract dispute, warning that quick action is needed to ensure retailers don’t lose out on critical Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

No G20 member has climate plan strong enough to meet Paris targets: report

Canada’s push to be a world leader in the fight against climate change may be hampered by its distinction for producing the most greenhouse gas emissions per person among the world’s 20 largest economies.

City of Wetaskiwin didn’t apply utility hikes to bills

Clerical financial error discovered by Wetaskiwin city council

Most Read