Thank you very much, Mr. Chair and members.
Thank you for having me here today. It's a pleasure to be here, and it's always a pleasure to come to the committee. I'd like to thank you for your recent work on veterans employment, and I look forward to receiving your report and recommendations.
I'm here today to discuss the main estimates and supplementary estimates (C).
On the main estimates, you will see funding to extend disability adjudication resources for another year, as set out in budgets 2020 and 2021. This will help us to continue to reduce the backlog.
I know you all have a keen interest in where we're at in reducing the backlog, so I'm pleased to share with you that the backlog presently sits at 6,800, which is more than a 70% reduction since its peak of more than 23,000 in 2020. We're on track to meet the service standard by the end of the summer.
We also received additional funding to support mental health benefit programs. These programs allow veterans to immediately receive mental health care when they apply for disability benefits for an eligible mental health condition and to maintain this support until a decision is made on the application or for up to two years from the time the application is received.
On the supplementary estimates (C), you will see requests that are specific to the department's commemorative activities. Remembering our fallen and the important battles that have marked Canadian military history is vitally important. This is why, these estimates contain funding requests for our commemorative infrastructure in Europe.
Last year we learned that a commercial development threatened the Juno Beach Centre and the surrounding land. We worked closely with the Juno Beach Centre association and French authorities to jointly purchase the land. As part of my European trip last month, I was able to congratulate everyone involved. The $4 million in these estimates will help to protect the site from any future development. I can assure you that every dollar noted in the main estimates and supplementary estimates (C) will make a significant difference for veterans and their families and in our efforts to honour Canadian military service abroad.
The department's annual budget is $2 billion higher than it was when we formed government. That is money going directly into the pockets of veterans.
I would also like to note that I was pleased to provide the committee with the investigative report into inappropriate conversations with veterans about medical assistance in dying. You have all had the chance to review the findings, and I hope that, like me, you are relieved to know that these isolated incidents, though terrible, are not indicative of a more systemic issue.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I'll be pleased to try to answer your questions.