Veterans Affairs hiring more staff for backlog

OTTAWA – The federal government is hiring hundreds more temporary staff to tackle the growing backlog of applications from disabled veterans asking for help.

The plan was unveiled today as new figures from Veterans Affairs Canada show nearly 50,000 disability benefits claims were sitting in the queue at the end of March.

That represented an increase of more than 3,000 requests for financial assistance from only three months earlier.

Veterans Affairs officials say they plan to hire 300 more temporary staff between now and next January as part of a broader plan to dramatically cut the number of outstanding files by March 2022.

The department is also looking at changes to how it processes claims for the most common ailments affecting veterans, such as hearing loss and ringing in the ears.

The plan does not currently include automatically approving requests for assistance from veterans, which advocates have been pressing for in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2020.