If the federal authorities goes to make headway on an enormous backlog of unprocessed veterans advantages claims, it may want extra folks and much more cash, Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Office stated at this time.
The PBO launched a report that predicts measures introduced by federal officers final June to sort out the big variety of overdue functions is not going to ship the outcomes the federal authorities hoped to realize.
At the top of March this 12 months, there have been 49,216 advantages requests within the system. That determine had been whittled all the way down to about 46,000 three months later, when Veterans Affairs Canada introduced its plan in a teleconference with reporters.
More than half of these unprocessed claims had been overdue — which means claimants had been saved ready months past the division’s personal deadline — when Veterans Affairs stated it was going to rent 300 extra workers on a short lived foundation to get rid of the backlog by 2023.
The PBO stated Monday it believes the division’s push to wipe out the backlog can solely work if the newly-hired workers are saved on for years.
“Our projections show that, with these additional resources, the department will reduce the backlog by about 10,000 applications by March 2022,” stated the PBO report, posted on-line.
“However, we estimate that, to fully eliminate the backlog and then maintain the service standards going forward, it would mean retaining most of these additional employees beyond 2021–22. With this extension, we project that the backlog would be eliminated in the first quarter of 2023.”
That “extension” would price about $103 million between now and the top of 2024–25 funds 12 months.
More folks, more cash
The PBO report additionally instructed another: the federal authorities might rent 392 extra folks along with the 300 employed already, which might permit it to clear up the issue in a 12 months.
That choice would price the federal treasury nearly $159 million over the subsequent 5 years.
A spokesman for Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay stated the funds workplace didn’t have a look at the entire image when it compiled its evaluation.
“We know that too many veterans are waiting too long for decisions on their applications and that we can and must do better,” stated Cameron McNeill in an electronic mail assertion.
“While the PBO’s report shows that new hires made as part of our recent investment of nearly $200 [million] will make a significant impact on the backlog, it does not take into account the many steps that Veterans Affairs is taking to make the process faster and more efficient. We’re confident in the plan we put forward to tackle the backlog, and we will continue to do everything we can to address it.”
Because of overhauls by two completely different governments, veterans have seen their system of advantages modified a number of instances — forsaking a patchwork that has been criticized by authorities watchdogs and veterans themselves.
The PBO report was compiled on the request of New Democrat veterans critic Rachel Blaney and comes because the federal authorities faces court docket challenges by former troopers affected by the backlog and the overlapping techniques.
“The report clearly shows that, even if the temporary band-aid increases in resources for Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) the Liberals have announced were extended, veterans would still be waiting until 2023 for the backlog in applications to be cleared,” Blaney stated in a media assertion.
“This is completely unacceptable. Veterans have already been waiting too long for the benefits and services they deserve.”
Blaney laid the preliminary blame for the backlog on the toes of the previous Conservative authorities and the social gathering’s new chief, Erin O’Toole, who was veterans minister simply previous to the 2015 federal election.
She stated Conservative cuts to staffing at Veterans Affairs created a snowball impact that the Liberals have solely made worse.
Senior Veterans Affairs officers, testifying earlier than parliamentary committees final 12 months, introduced a extra nuanced image, saying the rising variety of claims was prompted by repeated overhauls to the system and extra consciousness of applications.