Minister of Veterans Affairs Erin O’Toole, joined by veteran’s groups and members of the Canadian Armed Forces, 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.
“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,” Erin O’Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs.
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.
Introduced in 2006 and expanded in 2011, the PIA and Permanent Impairment Allowance 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 sacrifice in service to Canada are expected to receive the PIA.
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 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.
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.
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