OTTAWA — The long delays many veterans face when applying to the government for assistance for service-related injuries has reached a new milestone.
Former service members have long been promised that the vast majority will know within 16 weeks whether they are eligible for financial compensation or medical treatment.
But Veterans Affairs Canada says the average wait time for initial applications is now twice as long — 32 weeks — as requests for assistance outpace the department’s ability to process them.
The government is hoping to start reining in the ever-growing wait times, which advocates say add stress and frustration on veterans, by hiring and training hundreds of temporary staff.
It is also implementing a number of measures to cut red tape and speed up decision-making so veterans get the services and benefits they deserve faster.
But the union representing Veterans Affairs’ employees says what is really needed is more full-time staff as the department’s operational budget has not kept up with demand for services.
The Canadian Press