Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a) and (b), Veterans Affairs Canada defines “backlog” as applications that have not been completed within the service standard of 16 weeks.
As of December 9, 2019, there are 19,663 backlogged disability benefit applications, consisting of 16,192 distinct clients in the backlog. A client could have more than one disability application. For example, a client could have a first application for hearing loss and then a reassessment application for cervical disc disease. A distinct client count represents the number of unique clients counted in the pending and backlog groups, regardless of how many applications they have. There has been a 90% increase in first applications since 2015.
With regard to the total number of veterans with pending disability benefit applications, including those that have not exceeded the service standard, there are 33,618 distinct clients who have a pending disability benefit application and are in the process of receiving a decision regarding compensation.
Veterans Affairs Canada continues to work to improve service delivery and ensure every Canadian veteran receives the benefits they deserve in a timely manner.
With regard to (c) and (d), Pension for Life is a combination of benefits that provides recognition, income support and stability to Canadian Armed Forces members and veterans who experience a service-related illness or injury. As of April 1, 2019, over 80,000 veterans and Canadian Armed Forces members were efficiently transitioned to the new suite of benefits.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer’s report concluded that most veterans will receive lifetime payments that are between 6% and 24% higher under Pension for Life than they would have received under the previous regime, despite the significant increases in financial supports made to the new Veterans Charter through budget 2016.
As directed by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Affairs Canada is thoroughly reviewing the implementation of Pension for Life and may recommend changes, where needed, to improve the outcomes and experiences of veterans and their families.