Funding announced to address wait times for Veterans
On February 23, the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, announced funding of $139.6 million over two years to extend temporary positions as part of action to address the backlog of disability benefit applications at Veterans Affairs Canada.
Between 2015–16 and 2019–20, VAC experienced a 40 percent increase in disability benefit applications, including an increase of more than 75 percent in first applications. In June 2020, the Department released its strategy to address the long-standing issue of processing times for benefits, and hired more than 350 additional temporary employees dedicated to the issue. Combined with improvements to the decision-making process, the Department has reduced the backlog by 44 percent, from 23,000 to just under 13,000.
By March 2022, we expect to have cut the number of applications waiting longer than our 16-week service standard by half (from about 23,000 to 11,500), based on current forecasts, and to about 5,000 by spring 2023.
International Women’s Day
Join us in celebrating International Women’s Day, March 8, recognizing women’s contributions and achievements.
It is also an opportunity to examine the progress made towards gender equality and to consider the work still left to be done.
This year’s theme is Women Inspiring Women. Women Veterans have contributed, sacrificed and accomplished a great deal in the last century. Meet two of these strong women:
- Brigadier-General Sheila Hellstrom, who became the first Canadian woman to reach the rank of Brigadier General, serving alongside 130 generals and admirals who were all men.
- Judy Harper, Captain Navy (retired), who was the first woman accepted to the Military Master’s Degree Program, and later went to Carleton University to study Public Administration. Her remarkable contributions led the way for many women to advance to senior roles in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Veterans Affairs Canada is highlighting trailblazers who have served in uniform over the years and paved the way for future generations. Read about five notable milestones for Canadian women in military service along the path to equality.
Discover more inspiring stories of the women who served and continue to serve our country by visiting They proudly served on our website.
End of the mission in Afghanistan
Eight years ago on March 12, the last Canadian troops came home from Afghanistan.
It was one of the longest military missions in our country’s history, beginning in 2001 and ending in 2014.
To the thousands of Canadian Armed Forces members who left their families behind to serve in Afghanistan—and the 158 who never got the chance to see their loved ones again—we will never forget your sacrifices. Read more about the mission in Afghanistan.
Commemorating Peacekeepers in Cyprus
On 15 March 1964, Canadian peacekeepers began a mission in Cyprus that was supposed to last for just 90 days. It became one of our country’s longest peacekeeping missions—and one of the deadliest.
Thousands of Canadian peacekeepers have served in Cyprus since that first day.
28 have lost their lives.
Today we remember the sacrifices of all those who have bravely served.
Read more about the mission in Cyprus.
Veteran story: Anneliese Papaurelis
Helping others, healing herself
Anneliese Papaurelis is a Canadian Veteran who endured abuse no person should be exposed to, yet turned that experience around. She now helps others who have also suffered abuse. Hers is an inspiring story.
Help design mental health resources for Veterans
Do you want to help design new mental health resources for the Veteran community? Don’t miss this opportunity!
Wellness Together Canada and Togetherall are creating digital mental health supports for Veterans. They are looking for feedback from Veterans and family members on potential resources, including online support groups, articles and self-paced courses.
Your participation would include reviewing materials and sharing your opinions through one of these methods:
- group sessions (5–10 participants)
- individual discussions (one or two) about your feedback
- an online survey.
You could be compensated for your time, depending on your level of involvement.
Programs and services
New VAC Assistance Service online chat feature
If you’re dealing with issues that affect your well-being, support is available. Veterans and their families can receive free, confidential, short-term psychological support with a mental health professional through the VAC Assistance Service.
There are now two ways to contact the VAC Assistance Service for a referral to a mental health professional:
- By phone at 1-800-268-7708 (TTD/TTY: 1-800-567-5803), 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
- By online chat on Health Canada’s Employee Assistance Program web page (select current/former RCMP or CAF, then Veterans Affairs Canada (password canada), Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time, excluding statutory holidays.
Please note: the chat feature is not for immediate counselling. If you need immediate support, call the number above.
Tips for using the online chat
- Chat sessions typically last 15 to 20 minutes. Be prepared to actively respond to questions during this time.
- Older browsers or work firewalls may cause issues. If you have trouble connecting, try a different web browser or a personal device.
Support for Veterans affected by military sexual trauma
Are you a Veteran who experienced sexual misconduct during service? You don’t have to suffer in silence. If you need support, resources are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Sexual Misconduct Response Centre: Call 1-844-750-1648 at any time for confidential support, guidance, information on options and resources, and personalized referrals to services and programs. You can also receive ongoing support and assistance through the Response and Support Coordination program.
- VAC Assistance Service: Call 1-800-268-7708 to speak to a mental health professional right away. This confidential service is available 24/7, and provides immediate short-term mental health support.
- OSI Clinics and Satellite Service Sites: Services include in-person and virtual mental health assessment and treatment to address mental health issues related to service or interfering with rehabilitation. To discuss a possible referral, you can send a secure message via My VAC Account or call 1-866-522-2122.
- PTSD Coach Canada – mobile application: This app can help you and your loved ones learn about and manage symptoms which can occur after trauma.
- Sexual misconduct support resources search tool: If you experienced sexual misconduct during your service, find supports and resources near you.
- Read guidance and tips on self-care following sexual misconduct.
Save the date: Virtual Careers & Employment Opportunities webinars
Looking for a new career? Don’t miss the Veterans Careers & Employment Opportunities Webinar series from March 28 to April 1.
Approximately 50 Canadian-based companies will give 20-minute presentations on employment opportunities in their organizations, followed by 10 minutes for questions.
The employers represent a cross-section of sectors, from high technology to defense, and security companies to consulting firms.
You will find the full list of companies in our Hire A Veteran LinkedIn group soon—stay tuned!
Veterans and transitioning CAF members can register today for the webinar series.
Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund recipients doing great work
On February 10, an event was held to highlight the new initiatives by Sunnybrook Veterans Centre to support Veterans’ well-being.
Sunnybrook Veterans Centre will receive $240,000 from the Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund (VFWF) for two projects: Vibrant Veterans: Yoga therapy to support well-being; and Reducing the impact of mandatory isolation on frail, elderly individuals in long-term care.
Since 2018, the Fund has provided financial support to private, public and academic organizations striving to improve the lives of Veterans and their families through innovative projects, initiatives and research.
In 2021–22, 36 projects will receive $11.3 million from the VFWF thanks to additional investments in Budget 2021. This year’s recipients focus on issues affecting Veterans and their families during the post-COVID-19 recovery, such as homelessness, retraining, employment, and health challenges. VFWF is also supporting equity-seeking groups such as women and LGBTQ2 Veterans.
There will be more announcements to come in the months ahead. In the meantime, you can consult the full list of recipients.