North Island-Powell River MP, Rachel Blaney wrote to federal Minister of Veteran affairs Lawrence MacAulay to express veterans’ concerns and get assurances that those who applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program instead of waiting for disability benefits would not be punished.
Some injured servicemen and women have applied for the CERB program because the extreme backlog of disability benefit applications at Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) caused lengthy delays and made it impossible for them to get the financial support they need.
In her role as the NDP critic for veterans, Blaney said that instead of “waiting an indeterminate amount of time” for the disability benefit that the veterans are supposed to receive, they went ahead to apply for the CERB program because they were “struggling to make ends meet.”
Blaney also indicated that while the liberal government is aware of these delays they have been slow to respond.
While the CERB program rolled out funds to applicants who claimed to be jobless due to the COVID-19 pandemic, earlier in June, the federal government had warned penalizing those who deliberately made fraudulent claims.
“The Liberals encouraged people to apply for CERB and said they’d figure out specifics later but now they’re threatening to criminalize people for defrauding the system. It’s completely irresponsible to tell people it’s okay to apply and then threaten them when they follow the government’s advice.”
According to Blaney, the federal government should never have made veterans wait for their benefits in the first place.
“And now they’re dealing with the stress of being threatened as criminals,” said Blaney.
“Canada’s injured servicewomen and men have every right to receive support after their sacrifices, and they did what they could to work within a broken system – they did what the government told them to do.”