OTTAWA — Frustration is growing within Canada's veterans' community as many disabled ex-soldiers continue to wait for federal support and benefits even as the government rushes to approve millions of claims for assistance related to COVID-19.
Veterans and their advocates have been calling for Ottawa to automatically approve roughly 44,000 claims that have been sitting in the backlog at Veterans Affairs Canada, a request that the federal government has so far rejected.
Yet many are now questioning why the government is refusing to act following reports federal officials have been told to approve payments through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit even in cases of suspected fraud or abuse.
While Veterans Affairs Canada says purpose and legal requirements around the CERB are different from its disability benefits programs, there are concerns that the backlog is poised to get even bigger as the pandemic creates new hurdles to processing claims.
The growing frustration among veterans comes as Canada passed a new milestone today, with more than half the country's 76,193 confirmed cases of COVID-19 now listed as recovered.
More than 5,700 people have died from the respiratory illness.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2020.