Minister of Veterans Affairs Seamus O’Regan rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. The federal government says it shortchanged hundreds of thousands of veterans and their survivors over seven years, and is preparing to compensate them a total of $165 million. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Feds promise $165 million in compensation after shortchanging 270,000 veterans

Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan revealed the error and compensation package Monday

Repaying hundreds of thousands of disabled veterans and their survivors for a calculating error that deprived them of some of their pensions for seven years will cost $165 million, the federal government says.

Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan revealed the error and compensation package Monday, on the eve of Remembrance Day, even as the federal NDP called on the government to ensure all money earmarked for veterans’ benefits is actually spent.

Veterans Affairs Canada miscalculated adjustments to the disability pensions of 270,000 veterans, RCMP members and their survivors between 2003 and 2010 because it didn’t properly account for a change in personal tax exemptions, O’Regan said.

Most of the affected veterans were shortchanged several hundred dollars, though some lost thousands of dollars because of the error, which O’Regan said was only recently flagged to the government by veterans’ ombudsman Guy Parent.

While the minister promised that all veterans would be compensated, payments aren’t expected to begin until 2020, which O’Regan blamed on the sheer number of Canadians affected by the problem.

Complicating matters is the fact as many as 120,000 of the affected veterans, notably those who served in the Second World War and in Korea, have died. O’Regan’s spokesman, Alex Wellstead, said their survivors and estates will still be eligible.

News of the error and compensation came as the New Democrats tabled a motion on Monday designed to pressure the Liberals to spend $372 million that was earmarked for veterans’ benefits in recent years but wasn’t spent.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said veterans have received inadequate assistance and faced barriers when it comes to accessing services and support for far too long because money approved by Parliament ends up going unused and being returned to the treasury.

The routine of letting money “lapse” needs to end, Singh said, which is why the NDP decided to use a rare opposition day to introduce a non-binding motion calling on the government to roll unspent money into budgets for the next year.

Members of Parliament were scheduled to debate the motion into the evening on Monday and vote on it Tuesday.

Successive governments have defended their inability to spend all the money set aside for veterans, saying they often ask Parliament for too much money to ensure there isn’t a shortfall when former service members need assistance.

O’Regan was to make the same point in the House of Commons on Monday night, saying in prepared remarks: “Whether 10 veterans come forward or 10,000, no veteran who is eligible for a benefit will be turned away because we do not have the funds.

“If a veteran is eligible for a benefit, they get it. When that pendulum swings the other way and there are fewer veterans seeking a particular benefit; the money stays in the consolidated revenue.”

Critics, however, have blamed the lapses on long wait times and other barriers that make it difficult for veterans to access services, and said the unspent money could be used to help veterans in a variety of other ways.

— with reporting by Janice Dickson

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

WATCH: Historic night in Red Deer as 2019 Canada Winter Games kicks off

Star-studded Opening Ceremony features athletes from across Canada

Athletes’ medals unveiled at the official kick-off of 2019 Canada Winter Games

Medals depict Central Alberta landscape and pay tribute to First Nations

WATCH: Canada Winter Games are finally here

Final leg of torch relay kicked off at Fort Normandeau

Red Deer man loses car after being caught twice driving with suspended licence

The Ponoka Integrated Traffic Unit ticketed the man in December and on Valentine’s Day

WCPS looks to its schools and communities for new mission, vision, values and beliefs

WCPS’s Board looks to students, and staff in advance of larger community engagement

Fashion Fridays: Up your beauty game

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

‘Mitts don’t just warm hands. They warm hearts’: Mitts for Many Program launches

Donate new or lightly used mittens to bin in the Great Hall of the Gary W. Harris Centre

LOCATED: Innisfail RCMP looking for missing woman

Amanda Kucher was last seen at the Innisfail 7-Eleven on Feb. 15

Red Deer RCMP arrest man after vehicle theft from dealership

Police were able to disable the SUV with assistance from the built-in vehicle assistance system

Red Deer College transforms into Athletes’ Village

Red Deer College’s campus will be home for the athletes during the 2019 Canada Winter Games

Alberta minor hockey team, slammed for Indigenous dance video, forfeits season

Parents say season was too dangerous to finish because the team has been threatened

Trump officially declares national emergency to build border wall

President plans to siphon billions from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts

Alix resident captures beams of light near Lacombe

Lacombe, Blackfalds, Red Deer photos have since gone viral around the world

Most Read