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Summary of the Evaluation of Commemorative Benefits and Services

Evaluation of Commemorative Benefits and Services
Funeral and Burial Program
Cemetery and Grave Maintenance Program
Honours and Awards
Audit and Evaluation Division – Veterans Affairs Canada – March 2017

Evaluation Results

1. Are the Programs relevant?

  • There is a continued need
  • The Programs align with Government of Canada priorities, Departmental strategic outcomes and Federal roles and responsibilities

2. Are the Programs performing well?

  • Intermediate and Ultimate Outcomes are being achieved.
  • The assessment of the immediate outcome for the Funeral and Burial Program found that certain groups of Veterans require increased access for eligibility consideration.
  • The assessment of the immediate outcome for the Cemetery and Grave Maintenance Program found that additional efforts are required to reduce outstanding Veteran grave maintenance items.

3. Are the Programs economical and efficient?

  • Economy
    • Administrative costs for the Funeral and Burial Program have decreased, however they should be continuously monitored to ensure they align with workload requirements.
    • The administrative cost ratio could not be fully assessed for the Cemetery and Grave Maintenance Program.
  • Efficiency
    • New service standards and improved internal processes are required for Matter-of-Right related funeral and burial reimbursements and the issuance of the Memorial Cross.
Recommendation Management Response and Action Plan

1. It is recommended that measures be implemented to increase access to funeral and burial financial assistance for:

  • Veterans receiving VAC benefits and/or services for low income and/or homelessness (Means Tested); and
  • Single/Widowed Veterans and Veterans in receipt of disability benefits for certain conditions (Matter-of-Right).
  • Measures will be implemented to help increase access to funeral and burial Means Tested financial assistance for Veterans that were in receipt of benefits for low income and/or have been identified as homeless/having increased risk for homelessness.
  • Communications messages will be developed and released to emphasize/confirm the requirement to render Matter-of-Right decisions for single Veterans.
  • A referral process will be developed to ensure Matter-of-Right consideration for the survivors/estates of Veterans that were in receipt of disability benefits for certain conditions.

2. It is recommended measures be put in place to reduce the backlog of outstanding Veteran grave maintenance, with an increased focus on maintenance items such as inscription legibility, grave marker replacements and foundation repairs.

  • Current practices will be reviewed for possible efficiencies, such as prioritizing the repair of items that compromise the structural integrity of Veteran graves, will be integrated in the annual maintenance plan.
  • Options will be explored for increased resource allocations to help address the backlog of maintenance items.
  • A revised maintenance plan will be implemented for 2018-19.

3. It is recommended that measures be implemented to ensure that the estates of Veterans whose death has been deemed related to service receive the benefits (funeral and burial financial assistance) and recognition (Memorial Cross) to which they are entitled, in a timely manner.

  • Measures will be implemented to help ensure that the estates of Veterans whose death has been deemed related to service receive the benefits and recognition to which they are entitled, in a timely manner.
  • System enhancements will be implemented to ensure all favourable death-attributable-to-service decisions automatically generate a notification to the appropriate areas.
  • New Service standards will be established.
Program Description
  • The Funeral and Burial Program provides financial assistance toward funeral, burial, and grave marking expenses of eligible Veterans to recognize their service to Canada.
  • The Cemetery and Grave Maintenance Program preserves the memory of Canadians who served their country in war and peace, by maintaining graves in perpetuity as symbols of remembrance.
  • The Honours and Awards Program provides War Service medals and Memorial Crosses in recognition of the achievements and sacrifices of Canadian Veterans and Minister’s Commendations to those who have demonstrated exemplary service to Veterans.
About the Evaluation

Scope and Methodology:

  • Conducted in accordance with Treasury Board of Canada’s 2009 Policy on Evaluation.
  • Covers the time frame from April 1, 2012, to March 31, 2016.
  • Conducted between April 2016 and January 2017.
  • Covered three programs: Funeral and Burial, Cemetery and Grave Maintenance, and Honours and Awards.
  • Multiple lines of evidence were used.

Constraints and Limitations:

  • Change in exemption amount for the Funeral and Burial Program (Budget 2016) may impact future demand for the Program.
  • The evaluation team did not speak directly with program applicants.
  • Limited detailed statistical data was available for the Honours and Awards Program.
  • There is no Performance Measurement Strategy specific to the Honours and Awards Program.
Evaluation Report
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