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1.0 Introduction

The Government of Canada Remembrance PolicyFootnote 1 defines remembrance as honouring and commemorating the sacrifices, achievements and legacy of those who served in Government of Canada sanctioned wars, conflicts, peacekeeping and aid missions, in both military and civilian capacities. The objective of the policy is to reaffirm that Canada will always remember the contributions and sacrifices of the fallen, the Veterans, those who served our country on the home front, and those who served and will continue to serve our nation in the cause of peace throughout the world. Primary responsibility for implementing the Government of Canada Policy on Remembrance resides with the Minister of Veterans Affairs. Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) contributes to achieving these commemorative responsibilities through its Canada Remembers Program.Footnote 2

This evaluation was conducted in accordance with VAC’s Multi-Year Risk-Based Evaluation Plan 2015-20. It focuses on three programs within the Canada Remembers Program which provides commemorative benefits and services to Veterans and Veterans' estates. The evaluated programs are: Funeral and Burial Program, Cemetery and Grave Maintenance Program and Honours and Awards ProgramFootnote 3 (herein called “the Program” or “the Programs”).

The Programs were evaluated as a group for a number of reasons: their focus is complementary, they share stakeholders and beneficiaries, and they have the same ultimate outcome. The evaluation examined the relevance, performance, efficiency, and economy of the Programs and was conducted in accordance with Treasury Board policy requirements and guidance.

This report provides an introduction to the Programs, evaluation scope, and methodology. Core evaluation questions are discussed with results identified by program-specific sub-headings where appropriate.

1.1 Overview of Programs

1.1.1 Funeral and Burial Program

The Funeral and Burial Program provides financial assistance toward funeral, burial, and grave marking expenses of eligible Veterans to recognize their service to Canada. Under the Veterans Burial Regulations, 2005, assistance is available for war service (WS) Veterans (Veterans of the Korean War and both World Wars) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Veterans (Veterans with service post-Korean War) whose deaths were service-related or whose estates do not have sufficient funds for a dignified funeral, burial, and grave marking. The Funeral and Burial Program is administered, on behalf of VAC, by the Last Post Fund Corporation, an independent, non-profit organization. The Last Post Fund’s mission is to ensure that no Veteran is denied a dignified funeral and burial as well as a military gravestone due to insufficient funds at time of death.Footnote 4

The overall number of Funeral and Burial Program recipients has decreased slightly from 1,227 in 2012-13 to 1,174 in 2015-16 (a decrease of 4.3%). Forecasts, which now include program enhancements through Budget 2016Footnote 5, indicate that the number of recipients will gradually decline over the next four years. Table 1 shows actual and forecast recipients/expenditures for the Funeral and Burial Program.

Table 1: Funeral and Burial Recipients/Expenditures
Funeral and Burial Actuals Forecast
2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20
Recipients 1,227 1,213 1,186 1,174 1,060 1,030 1,000 970
($ Millions)
$5.830 $7.149 $7.338 $7.664 $7.087 $7.102 $7.118 $7.093

Source: VAC Finance Division

Program Eligibility

In order to be deemed eligible for the Program, service eligibility criteria must be met and an application submitted within one year from the date of death. Service eligible applicants must then meet the criteria under one of the following benefit streams:

  • Matter-of-Right: When a Veteran’s death is related to military service due to a condition for which VAC provided a disability benefit, assistance may be granted as a Matter-of-Right (no Means Testing); or
  • Means Test: The Last Post Fund completes a financial assessment of the Veteran’s estate, which takes into account marital status, number of dependents and net assets.Footnote 6

1.1.2 Cemetery and Grave Maintenance Program

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.Footnote 7 The Program is responsible for:

  • Maintaining 110,364 war dead graves in more than 70 countries around the world;
  • Maintaining 207,525 Veteran grave markers in Canada and overseas; and
  • Managing two departmental cemeteries in Canada (Fort Massey Cemetery in Halifax, NS, and Veterans Cemetery in Esquimalt, BC).

In a joint agreement among partner governments - i.e., Canada, Australia, India, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom - the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) has responsibility for the care and maintenance of war dead gravesFootnote 8 in Canada and overseas. Canada contributes 10.7% of the cost of this agreement, approximately $10 million annually.

Historically, VAC budgets $1.25 million annually for the maintenance of Veterans gravesFootnote 9 and the management of VAC’s two departmental cemeteries.

Grave markers provided at the expense of the Government of Canada are inspected to determine the level of maintenance required, from minor maintenance (e.g., cleaning) to major maintenance (e.g., marker replacement/resurfacing).

Program eligibility:

Graves for Canada’s war dead and Veterans buried at the expense of the Government of Canada are covered under the Cemetery and Grave Maintenance Program.

1.1.3 Honours and Awards Program

In recognition of the achievements and sacrifices of Canadian Veterans, the Honours and Awards Program provides:

  • First issue and replacement war service medals to Veterans and their families;
  • Memorial Cross(es) for the loved ones of Veterans whose death was attributed to their service; and
  • Minister of Veterans Affairs CommendationsFootnote 10 for those who have demonstrated exemplary service to Veterans.

On average, VAC provides approximately 380 first issue and 170 replacement war service medals to Veterans and their families annually. Memorial Crosses are issued to the family members of approximately 140 Veterans a year, and Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendations are presented to approximately 90 recipients annually.

Program eligibility:

Eligibility to receive an honour or award varies, as indicated above, based on the specific item requested.

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