UPDATE: Senator calls for fairness for spouses in veterans program

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Island Senator Catherine Callbeck is again looking for answers from Veterans Affairs on the way it treats some widows and widowers differently than others.

Island Senator Catherine Callbeck is again looking for answers from Veterans Affairs on the way it treats some widows and widowers differently than others.

Veterans’ surviving spouses may be eligible to receive assistance for housekeeping and/or grounds keeping expenses under the Veterans Independence Program. But not all surviving spouses are treated in the same manner, depending on what the veteran was receiving at the time of death.

“I have been asked by a number of widows about this issue,” said Callbeck.  “They know the woman down the road is getting assistance for housekeeping and grounds keeping at the same time, but they themselves have been told they are not eligible for both, even if they are low-income.”  

For example, if a veteran and his wife received both housekeeping and grounds keeping services, his widow can continue to have both. If a veteran and his wife did not receive either benefit, a low-income widow can apply later and receive both. But if a veteran and his wife received only one of these services, his widow can never apply for the second, even if she is low-income and regardless of health status.

Even the veterans ombudsman has pointed out the problem of this policy, says Callbeck.

“It is absolutely unfair that one widow is limited in benefits, regardless of need, while another is eligible to receive much more,” said Callbeck. “These women and men stood by our veterans during times of war and later cared for them through disability and failing health. We should need no reminder of our responsibility for their well-being.”

In response to Callbeck’s criticism, Blaney’s office issued the following statement: “Since 2008, our Conservative government has opened the Veterans Independence Program to Canadian Veterans’ widows and survivors.

“Since then over 38,000 widows and survivors have taken advantage of this remarkable program, which clears driveways in the winter and cuts lawns in the summer, among other services. We are proud of this remarkable program and we continue to look for ways to better service Canada’s Veterans.”

Callbeck has written a letter to the Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney urging him to correct this inequity.

In response to Callbeck’s criticism, Blaney’s office issued the following statement:

“Since 2008, our Conservative government has opened the Veterans Independence Program to Canadian Veterans’ widows and survivors. Since then over 38,000 widows and survivors have taken advantage of this remarkable program, which clears driveways in the winter and cuts lawns in the summer, among other services. We are proud of this remarkable program and we continue to look for ways to better service Canada’s Veterans.”

Organizations: Veterans Affairs

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  • Carole
    February 13, 2013 - 06:44

    Sen. Callbeck. “It is absolutely unfair that one widow is limited in benefits, regardless of need, while another is eligible to receive much more,” said Callbeck. “These women and men stood by our veterans during times of war and later cared for them through disability and failing health. We should need no reminder of our responsibility for their well-being.” I keep hearing from people that there is help for this so I can stay in my home. I have had to pay for everything and always told I am not eligible for anything. My hubby put is 32 years military and then another 18 years as a public servant. I am shocked what I get for the 18 years one by the time they have finished with it. Some of us can't even afford the extremely high cost of Senior residences with what is left after all we have put into it. 50 years service is a very long time and not many put that many years into working with the military I do hope and thank you Sen. Callbeck. for trying to assist us in these matters.

  • Island Veteran
    February 07, 2013 - 12:37

    Sen. Callbeck. Thank you for addressing a serious denial of support to spouses of veterans. Ignore the "nay sayers" and please keep up the support. VAC and Minister Blaney do not comprehend the problem let alone the solution . Never forget, if you want to speak to a veteran at VAC, speak to the Commisionaire on the way in for he is the only one in the building!

  • Gerry
    February 05, 2013 - 19:52

    It's rather coincidental that the only time we hear about a "supposedly" informed and proactive Liberal is when a Conservative is in the public's well deserved mean eye? At least by the occasional finger pointing, taxpayers can be assured the senators are still alive, well; and financially sound. Abolish the useless senate, and redirect the excessive overhead towards those who undoubtedly have earned not only our respect but also their lot in life e.g. our veterans and/or their care takers.

    • Bill Kays
      Bill Kays
      February 06, 2013 - 09:59

      Abolish the Senate and let the public vote on all important matters directly via the internet or other means. Come on folks, if we can like or dislike something on Facebook etc. we should be able to vote on every single piece of legislation be it federal or provincial. Direct representation is the only fair process.

  • johnthames
    February 05, 2013 - 19:24

    Elect an NDP federal government in 2015 and they will ABOLISH the Senate. Should have been done years ago but the Libs and Cons love appointing their friends. The Puffster is a prime example of why the Senate should be abolished, along with the most entitled Callbeck.

  • fred
    February 05, 2013 - 18:08

    With all the commotion in the house the last couple of days ;it must of woke up a few of these old folk. I thought one of the conditions of employment was to be awake and ready to clap at all times. It is official ; She did see her shadow. She is due to make another appearance in 6 weeks time to collect her $135.000.00 .

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    February 05, 2013 - 16:48

    Where was she when her buddies were screwing all of Canada and PEI out of unemployment insurance benefits, health care cuts and other cuts. Where are the other Senators and why are they so quiet? Let's face it. Originally Senators were supposed to be the last recourse should a government become tyrannical in nature or stop doing the peoples' will by creating unjust or unfair legislation. Instead of rubber stamping everything our government puts in front of them They should all be ashamed for allowing Ghiz and Harper to continue with these gross cuts to the programs that once made Canada great but now have grown out of control. GOVERNMENT IS TOO LARGE and as such has become unmanageable. If Callbeck is really concerned about this issue why has she allowed these decisions to be made? She is supposed to be standing up for the little guy that's getting shafted by by these changes to laws and programs. Of course they will try to save their own pensions etc on the backs of the poor as always.

  • Sleeping is Optional
    February 05, 2013 - 16:19

    Came across this: "Being appointed to the Senate means winning the cash-for-life lottery for its 105 members. The average senators earns $132,300 a year as a base salary, serves until age 75, and sat in the Senate for a total of fewer than 70 days in 2010. In 2008-2009, the Senate cost taxpayers over $90 million to maintain. And the cost keeps rising with the country’s growing deficit and debt so for 2011 it was probably over a billion or so. Eliminating it will speed up change, stop political payback for the ruling parties, and lead to more democratic politics in Canada." ...............Hey, I've got an idea on how to free up some funds for spouses of veterans.

    • Shaking My Head
      February 05, 2013 - 17:19

      Sleeping is optional, but it appears to me that Senator Callbeck is working on behalf of the veterans and their widows. At least she is doing something more than Duffy. I wonder why he didn't already have a PEI health card if he lives here.

  • Be careful what you ask
    February 05, 2013 - 15:40

    If they start changing things, they may decide that neither can apply for benefits instead of allowing widows in all situations to apply, so be careful what you ask for before poking the bear. Make it mad and instead of helping, you'll be taking benefits away from those that were previously covered.

  • Who woke up the senator
    February 05, 2013 - 15:16

    Since her book launch there has not been a peep of our dear Senator Callbeck. Whoever woke her up??? To pipe off against DVA which is packed full of Liberals?