Improvements respond to recommendations from Standing Committee, Veterans and stakeholders
VANCOUVER, March 17, 2015 /CNW/ - The Honourable Erin O'Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs, today unveiled two new initiatives to improve benefits and services for Canada's Veterans and their families. He announced a plan to enhance support for seriously injured Veterans by ensuring more Veterans will be eligible for a key monthly financial benefit under the New Veterans Charter (NVC). As well, the Minister announced a proposed new support that recognizes the vital role played by informal caregivers of our most seriously injured Veterans, which often includes their families. Minister O'Toole was joined by Veterans' groups and members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
The first part of today's announcement focused on enhancing the Permanent Impairment Allowance (PIA) by expanding its eligibility. It provides life-long monthly financial support to Veterans whose employment potential and career advancement opportunities have been limited by a permanent service-related injury or illness. The change will expand the number of Veterans eligible for the PIA, by being less restrictive about the requirements relating to their ability to independently carry out most daily activities.
Minister O'Toole also announced a proposed new Family Caregiver Relief Benefit that would recognize the vital contribution of informal caregivers—who are most often family members—to the health and well-being of seriously injured Veterans. The proposed new Family Caregiver Relief Benefit would provide eligible Veterans with an annual tax-free grant of $7,238, allowing their informal caregivers to take a well-deserved break while ensuring the Veterans continue to get the support they need.
At the announcement, Minister O'Toole reconfirmed the Government of Canada's commitment to ensuring Veterans and their families have the support and services they need. This included initiatives over the past several months such as:
- the introduction of a proposed Retirement Income Security Benefit that would ensure that an eligible Veteran's total annual income is at least 70% of what he or she received in financial benefits from VAC before age 65;
- proposed increases to the Earnings Loss Benefit for part-time Reserve Force Veterans;
- investments in new and expanded mental health initiatives for Veterans, serving military members, and their families, including a Veteran-specific Mental Health First Aid training program;
- a new Halifax operational stress injury clinic, with 9 satellite clinics across the country, including a permanent satellite in Hamilton;
- a four-year pilot project to expand access to the military family resource centres for medically releasing Veterans and their families;
- a new research project to examine the challenges and opportunities for families living with Veterans with operational stress injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder; and
- a new mental health action plan to further improve the continuum of mental health supports and services provided to Veterans and their families.
The Government of Canada will continue to ensure that Canadian Veterans and their families have the support they need, and are treated with care, compassion and respect.
- Introduced in 2006 and expanded in 2011, the Permanent Impairment Allowance (PIA) and supplement (PIAS) together provide support ranging from $600 to $2,800 a month in taxable income.
- By 2019-2020, approximately 300 additional Veterans who have made a tremendous sacrifice in service to Canada are expected to receive the Permanent Impairment Allowance.
- It is estimated that by 2020, approximately 261 Veterans and survivors would receive the Retirement Income Security Benefit upon turning 65. The vast majority of modern Veterans are 34 years old. Therefore hundreds of additional Veterans will benefit from this improvement in the future.
- While part of today's announcement responds to recommendations made by the Veterans Ombudsman and the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, the new Family Caregiver Relief Benefit is an entirely new proposal.
"The Harper Government continues to make real changes in the lives of those who need it most. Today's announcement responds directly to what the Parliamentary Committee, stakeholders, and Veterans themselves have been telling us they and their families need. This is another example of how our Government is taking action to help those who gave so much on our behalf."
The Honourable Erin O'Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs
Veterans Affairs Canada is committed to ensuring Veterans are treated with the care, compassion and respect they deserve. Veterans and their families are at the centre of everything we do. #Veterancentric
SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada
For further information: Martin Magnan, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs, 613-996-4649; Media Relations, Veterans Affairs Canada, 613-992-7468