Legion urges Ottawa to pay for poor veterans' funerals
Over 20,000 applications from families rejected by Veterans Affairs fund since 2006
The Canadian Press
Posted: Jan 31, 2013 7:22 AM ET
Last Updated: Jan 31, 2013 1:06 PM ET
The Royal Canadian Legion will launch a national letter-writing campaign today aimed at forcing the Harper government to cover the full cost of burying impoverished soldiers.
Gordon Moore, the dominion president, will hold a news conference in Elmira, Ont. to outline the campaign.
He'll be joined by the executive director of the Last Post Fund, the independent agency that administers the federal government's funeral and burial program for Veterans Affairs Canada.
Last fall, in a story by The Canadian Press, it was revealed the fund had rejected 20,147 applications submitted to it by the families of poor soldiers who passed away.
That was roughly two-thirds of the total number of pleas the fund had received since 2006.
Minister spokesman defends programs
A spokesperson for Steven Blaney, the minister for Veterans Affairs, issued a statement to CBC News Thursday, defending Canada's reputation for funding funerals for war veterans.
"While all of our programs are under constant review as we look for ways to improve them through a challenging fiscal climate, Canada's funeral and burial program is one of the most comprehensive among allied nations and is the only program to cover full burial costs," the statement said.
The spokesperson added that about 10,000 veterans have benefited from the Funerals and Burials program since the Conservative government took office.
Moore and the Legion have been battling since 2008 to have the criteria updated and says he's dismayed at the inaction.
The Legion is calling on its 330,000 members across Canada, and the general public, to write their Members of Parliament to demand the funeral stipend be raised from the current $3,600 per soldier.With files from CBC News
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