North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney has called for automatic approvals at Veteran Affairs Canada (VAC) to deal with the “extreme backlog” of disability benefit applications.
In a letter to the Minister of Veteran Affairs, Lawrence Macauley, she asked the ministry to eliminate the backlog and “ensure all of Canada’s veterans get the support they need in a timely fashion.”
To do so, Blaney has called on the minister to “pilot automatic approvals,” and later review the results in terms of financing, service delivery and veteran satisfaction after the pandemic has subsided.
As a member of the Standing Committee on Veteran Affairs (ACVA), Blaney reminded the minister that some of the plans and proposals suggested by VAC were yet to be implemented.
On March 10, ACVA members were told by VAC officials that a plan to eliminate the backlog would be available within 30 days.
“We have yet to receive that plan,” Blaney reminded the minister.
“We have also been told multiple times in ACVA that automatic or artificial intelligence-supported approvals for specific disabilities, such as tinnitus, are going to be implemented soon,” Blaney said.
The VAC also indicated that they were looking at implementing systems of automatic approvals for common injuries linked with certain roles in the military followed by Canada’s allies.
According to Blaney, automatic approvals would not just benefit veterans, but also reduce the stress on VAC staff who put in “significant overtime hours” to deal with the backlog.
Earlier in May, Blaney asked the federal government for more support for veterans during COVID-19. She asked the minister to ensure adequate funding reached Royal Canadian Legion branches that are financially struggling during the pandemic.