Ottawa, ON – Today, MP Frank Caputo, Shadow Minister for Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister for National Defence, and Pierre Paul-Hus, Conservative Shadow Minister for Public Services and Procurement, released the following statement on the Liberal government’s decision to wait until the last minute to address the backlog crisis at Veteran’s Affairs:

“After months of pressure from Conservatives, Veteran’s advocacy organizations, and Veterans and their families, the Liberal government has finally announced the extension of contracts for temporary staff to reduce the backlog of disability benefit claims on the books at Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC).

“Waiting until the 11th hour to address this crucial step has created unnecessary uncertainty for our veterans.

“When temporary staff were hired to manage the backlog, it was the intention of the government to reduce the backlog to 5,000 by 2022. Instead, the backlog currently sits at 34,000.

“These temporary staff were set to have their contracts expire next week. When Conservatives repeatedly asked the government to follow the recommendations of experts and extend these contracts, the Liberal government sat idle. Despite department officials warning that if these staff were not extended, the backlog would increase by 50 per cent by January.

“I am hopeful that this last-minute extension will make a difference, but the government must now do everything possible to provide the care that Veterans and their families deserve. While the government has committed to addressing the backlog, I implore the Minister to also address the high caseloads and working conditions among VAC case managers.

“We believe our Veterans and their families deserve openness and transparency and should not be treated as an afterthought by this Liberal government. Conservatives recognise the sacrifice and service of our Veterans and their families, and we will continue to fight on their behalf.”