The 90-year-old widow of a Second World War veteran says a drastic cut in her benefits by Veterans Affairs Canada has left her baffled and depressed.
Truena Young said her monthly stipend was cut by 95 per cent when she switched old age homes in Nova Scotia.
"I did a lot of crying by myself," Young told CBC News. "Tried to put on a brave front when I went down to dinner and that. No one knew but myself how I felt."
Young was 19 when she married 22-year-old Clinton Young, who was a physical education trainer for air force recruits in the Second World War. After her husband died in 2003, Young continued to receive benefits of about $750 per month from the Veterans Independence Program.
In October, a letter from Veterans Affairs informed Young that her stipend would be reduced to $520 a year —about $43 per month.
She said the stress is lowering her spirits.
"I just feel terrible," said Young. "I thought if I didn't take my medication, maybe my heart would stop. I just felt that bad."
Rick Young, Truena's son, said the change occurred when his mother moved to an assisted-living facility in Wolfville from an independent-living facility in Bedford.
He said it took him three weeks to reach someone from Veterans Affairs, and he still has no explanation about why his mother's stipend was reduced.
"I couldn't get any information," Young said Friday. "The fact that they arbitrarily assign, based upon some ambiguous process — that leaves me cold."
Young said the two facilities are similar in that they both charge thousands of dollars every month in rent, and both provide services covered by the Veterans Independence Program.
Rick Young has launched an appeal with Veterans Affairs, and said he wonders whether other widows would be able to do the same.
"It's certainly not a feasible or honourable way to treat a bunch of seniors who are in need," he said.
A spokesperson from Veterans Affairs Canada said they could not discuss Young's case specifically, but said staff periodically review the Veterans Independence Program to make sure support is in line with the recipient's needs.