Housekeeping Changes Raise Concerns For Legion

May 30, 2013 by Tom MacGregor

Changes in the way that Veterans Affairs Canada covers the cost of housekeeping and grounds maintenance for its clients in the Veterans Independence Program (VIP) is cause for concern, says Legion Dominion President Gordon Moore.

Under the new plan, VAC says it is cutting red tape by sending direct payments to its VIP clients twice a year to pay for housekeeping and grounds maintenance. Up to now, clients have had to pay the amount themselves and then submit receipts for reimbursement. The amount paid will be based on past expense claims and the going rates for the work in the area that the veteran lives. Approximately 100,000 veterans are expected to be receiving the direct payments by the end of the year.

In a letter sent to Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney on Jan. 9, Moore said, “For some veterans this may be easily accomplished; however, there are a number of veterans who have relied on their service provider billing Veterans Affairs Canada directly. For this group, they do not engage or contract with the service provider. It may be a small thing, but for an elderly, disabled, or seriously injured veteran, managing these situations can be extremely challenging,” wrote Moore. “They should have a choice as to whether or not they want to manage these relationships.”

Moore also said there is a concern that lower income or fixed income veterans will be given a seemingly large sum of money and there are no safeguards if the money is spent on other priorities.

Molly Maid and Merry Maids, two companies offering housekeeping services to thousands of Canadian veterans, have also written to Blaney objecting to the move. In a joint letter, Molly Maid President Kevin Hipkins and Merry Maids Business Leader Bob Goodwin expressed concern that veterans will turn to underground service providers.

“Underground providers in our industry do not screen staff, hold sufficient operating insurance in the event of damage or carry liability insurance in the event of injury to the service provider in the veteran’s home,” they wrote. “We would expect that the safety and well-being of veterans would be of the highest priority for Veterans Affairs Canada, particularly when services are being paid for through the VIP.”

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