Backlog targeted as Veterans Affairs reports nearly $1B for ex-soldiers was unspent

$1B for ex-soldiers unspent

The Trudeau government is facing fresh calls to eliminate the backlog of disability claims from ill and injured veterans amid revelations Veterans Affairs Canada failed to spend nearly $1 billion of its budget last year.

Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay's office says the backlog of thousands of unprocessed applications for financial and medical benefits did not have an impact on the unspent funds.

But veterans' groups and others are expressing skepticism, saying at least a portion of the money would have been used to help more ill and injured ex-soldiers if their claims had been processed in a timely manner.

Instead, many continue to wait months and sometimes years to find out if they qualify for health and financial assistance from the federal government for injuries and illnesses sustained in uniform.

The Royal Canadian Legion says the unspent funds should be used to immediately clear up the backlog.

The Legion and the National Council of Veteran Associations are also reiterating past calls for the government to start automatically approving claims by veterans, which the Liberals have repeatedly refused to do.

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