Health-care practitioners in Nova Scotia who treat veterans say the paperwork to deal with Veterans Affairs Canada is onerous and the bureaucracy of the federal department leads to long delays.
Jennifer Wessel, a registered massage therapist in Dartmouth, said the paperwork requested by Veterans Affairs and its insurance provider — Blue Cross — is about double the amount she fills out for civilian clients.
"From a service provider's point of view, there's a lot of things to get started in on the paperwork and it's a bit discouraging when you see the volume there," she told CBC News.
"I have colleagues, for example, it's not that they don't treat Veterans Affairs clients, it's just that they would prefer to do those treatments for free rather than have to deal with the paperwork."
Veterans Affairs covers a percentage of the cost of massages for veterans, up to a maximum of 15 massages a year.
Wessel said she is sometimes forced to decide whether to turn away veterans or work for less than her regular rate.
"There's the expectation that I am somehow going to subsidize the government of Canada on the treatments that I give to veterans," she said. "To me, that's ridiculous."
Wessel said she's so frustrated she has raised the issue with NDP Veterans Affairs critic Peter Stoffer and plans to write to Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn.
She said she has heard from clients who are equally aggravated with the amount of paperwork that they are choosing not to submit insurance claims at all.
"What's happening there is that they're just bypassing the system and paying out of pocket for services that are needed for them for rehabilitative care," Wessel said.