Improvements target seriously injured Veterans, reservists and families
WINNIPEG, March 19, 2015 /CNW/ - The Honourable Erin O'Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs, was joined by Canadian Veterans and their families today as he reaffirmed the Government of Canada's commitment to improving the benefits and services it provides those injured in the service of Canada. As evidence of that commitment, Minister O'Toole pointed to recent announcements focused on addressing gaps in the New Veterans Charter by enhancing or expanding support for seriously disabled Veterans, reservists and their families.
The following are among the new and enhanced services and benefits proposed in recent weeks:
- The new Retirement Income Security Benefit, which would provide moderately to severely disabled Veterans—those who need it most—with continued assistance in the form of a monthly income support payment beginning at age 65.
- The new Family Caregiver Relief Benefit, which would provide eligible Veterans with a tax-free, annual grant of up to $7,238 so that their informal caregivers—who are often their spouse or other devoted family members—will have flexibility or relief when they need it while also ensuring that the Veterans' care needs are met.
- Broadened eligibility criteria for the Permanent Impairment Allowance (PIA) which, together with the PIA Supplement, provides approximately $600 to $2,800 a month in 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.
- Enhanced benefits for injured part-time Reserve Force Veterans, who will now be assured the same minimum income support payment through the Earnings Loss Program as full-time Reserve Force and Regular Force Veterans.
These initiatives are bolstered by significant investments in new and expanded mental health initiatives, including a Veteran-specific Mental Health First Aid training program, a four-year pilot project to expand access to military family resource services, a new research project aimed at families of Veterans with operational stress injuries, and development of a mental health action plan. In January, a permanent operational stress injury satellite clinic was announced for Hamilton and a major new OSI clinic will also be established in Halifax.
In an effort to reduce red tape and make services and supports easier for Veterans and their families to understand and access, Minister O'Toole has also directed Veterans Affairs Canada to:
- assemble a "Veteran-centric Communications Task Force" to improve how Veterans Affairs Canada communicates with Veterans and their families;
- examine ways to combine new and existing supports into a single monthly payment for severely injured Veterans; and
- work with the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman to clarify how the Permanent Impairment Allowance is administered and to make it more predictable and easier to understand.
- Proposed new services and expanded eligibility for existing programs are expected to benefit thousands of Veterans and their families today and in the future.
- Many of the measures introduced respond directly to the recommendations of Veterans advocates, including the Veterans Ombudsman and the House of Commons' Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs (ACVA).
"We are taking action on the issues that are most important to Veterans and their families. I believe the Government of Canada has taken major strides to close the gaps in the New Veterans Charter and increase supports for our most seriously injured and their families."
The Honourable Erin O'Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs
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