OTTAWA, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 03/07/13 -- Since 1926 The Royal Canadian Legion has been a dedicated advocate of Veterans' issues and we continue with this mission with the upmost pride and integrity. As the Dominion President, I am elected and committed to ensure that all Veterans and their families are treated with respect, dignity and fairness, and that they have access to the programs and benefits they deserve. Today, we are facing a situation where Canadian Veterans and their families are not receiving proper benefits at a time when they need it most.
In 1921, when the Last Post Fund was federally incorporated and began receiving Government funding, the Government of Canada assumed responsibility and obligation to ensure all veterans receive a dignified funeral. However today, The Royal Canadian Legion continues to be dismayed by the inaction of this Government to bring the long overdue improvements to funeral and burial benefits for Veterans and their families. Canada's Veterans are crumbling under the weight of disrespect shown to them by the Government they served to uphold. There should be no doubt that the issue of adequate funeral and burial support is an urgent issue for World War II and Korean War Veterans. The majority of these men and women are in their 90s. But it will also be an issue for today's Veterans and those in the future.
On 31 January 2013, The Royal Canadian Legion launched a national letter writing campaign. Since the launch of our campaign, countless letters have gone to our Members of Parliament of all parties, by email, fax and mail. In response to our letters, the Government is saying that they are contributing more than $3,600 for a Veterans funeral, in some cases as high as $10,000. This is misleading Veterans and their families and the Canadian public. This issue is about the maximum amount provided for the funeral services grant which is $3,600 to cover the costs for a simple and dignified funeral service including: funeral service director, casket or urn, preparation of the body, the use of a room for viewing, the use of vehicle and gravesite services. This is not about the burial costs, as the government will provide reimbursement for the cheapest plot and as such this cost is not included in this grant. The Government should not be combining the two benefits. When the funeral services grant is added to the burial costs, this confuses the issue.
These are three key issues that need to be resolved:
1. The rate of $3,600 provided to cover the cost of funeral services is greatly inadequate and has not been increased since 2001. There is no cost of living increase provided. Thus the assistance provided from the Government does not meet the needs of Veterans and their families, especially in cases of financial difficulty. Also, the prescriptive nature of itemized amounts for specific aspects of funeral services is bureaucratic and overly complicated, delays reimbursement and denies flexibility in funeral planning for families. As this Government is so wont to say, "We need to reduce the red tape".
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