Mr. Speaker, in June 2017 the Royal Canadian Legion first sounded the alarm on the veteran disability application backlog crisis, two years after the current government took office. By December, the Canadian Press was reporting that the backlog had grown to 29,000 cases, a 50% increase since March of that year. Here we are, three years later having spent $42 million, and the backlog has become worse, having now grown to more than 44,000 applications.
Today at committee, we received testimony that on February 24 of this year the minister said to union leadership in a closed-door meeting, “I don't really control the department.” The union left the meeting not feeling positive, and disappointed. Its leadership expressed concerns that nothing was going to change.
Sadly, this came as no surprise, since the minister told the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs two days ago that the department runs the department. We must ensure veterans are getting the care and support they need. It is time to end the backlog crisis. Veterans deserve better. They have earned it.