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COVID-19 information and assistance for Veterans

VAC offices are not open to the public due to the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).

You can continue to connect with us through My VAC Account secure messaging or by calling 1-866-522-2122.

To speak to a mental health professional now, please call the VAC Assistance Service:

1-800-268-7708
1-800-567-5803 (TTD/TTY)

If you are experiencing an urgent financial need, emergency funding may be available. Call 1-866-522-2122.

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) info

Learn about the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and stay informed by visiting Canada.ca/coronavirus.

What you need to know now

Thursday September 3

Disability pension corrective payments

We are still making corrective payments during the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

Monday 10 August

Cannabis Regulations amendment

We know that it may be hard to get the documents needed to access cannabis for medical purposes during the pandemic.

As of 26 June 2020, Health Canada has updated the Cannabis Regulations to let federal licensed sellers extend registration dates for those who can't access their health care practitioner for a new medical document.

If your registration expires between 13 March 2020 and 30 September 2020 you qualify for this extension. If your registration expires between 26 June 2020 to 30 September 2020, the six-month extension will start on the day after their your current registration is set to expire.

If you are still able to safely contact your health care practitioner and medical specialist to get the documents for reimbursement of cannabis for medical purposes, you are encouraged to do so.

Wednesday 5 August

One-time payment to persons with disabilities

In recognition of the extraordinary expenses faced by persons with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada is providing a one-time payment of up to $600 through Employment and Social Development Canada to persons eligible for certain disability support programs (Canadian Pension Plan Disability benefit, Disability Tax Credit, Quebec Pension Plan Disability benefit and Veterans in receipt of disability supports provided by Veterans Affairs Canada) as of 1 July 2020.

Please visit our Questions and Answers.

Wednesday 29 July

Departmental Reviews

We are continuing to accept and conduct Departmental Reviews during COVID. The Bureau of Pensions Advocates also continues to make progress in digitizing Departmental Review claims which will also help improve the time for processing these claims.

Monday 15 June

Education and Training Benefit during the COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 has no doubt changed your studies and created questions about program end dates, exams, graduation and funding. Your school might have its own COVID-19 plan, so please check the school website for COVID-19 information, tools, and updates on changes to classes and access to campus facilities.

Across the country, schools are working on teaching options to give classes without losing quality, and to make sure that students can still graduate. Many schools can now give classes over the internet instead of in-person. Your school should give you information about changes to your program, so if you have specific questions about your studies, please contact your school.

Our current situation is stressful, and we encourage you to review health and wellness support services offered by your school. Additionally, the VAC Assistance Service is a free, 24/7 mental health resource that connects Veterans and their families to psychological support and counselling. Call 1-800-268-7708 if you would like to speak to a mental health professional.

Please visit our Questions and Answers.

Wednesday 3 June

Treatment Benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic

In-person healthcare services have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. VAC has made temporary changes to our Treatment Benefits program to ensure you receive the treatment and services you need. For a list of frequently asked questions, please see here.

Friday 29 May

Personal Protective Equipment

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are making changes to our programs to ensure Veterans receive the health treatments they need in the safest manner. VAC may cover Personal Protective Equipment for Veterans in receipt of Treatment Benefits when required to attend health appointments. For a list of frequently asked questions, please see here.

Monday 11 May

Impact of COVID-19 Emergency Benefits on Veterans Affairs Canada Financial Benefits

Emergency benefits like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) available to Canadians through the Government of Canada and provincial or territorial governments will not affect any of the financial benefits that Veterans and their families receive from VAC. For a list of frequently asked questions, please see here.

Thursday 7 May

Veterans Emergency Fund

During this time, we are using the Veterans Emergency Fund to the full extent possible to support Veterans’ safety and well-being. Should you require emergency financial assistance, the Veterans Emergency Fund is a possible solution for your needs. For more information about updates to the Veterans Emergency Fund during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit our Questions and Answers.

Friday 1 May

Availability of Cannabis for Medical Purposes during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic will not prevent Veterans from access to cannabis for medical purposes. The health and well-being of Veterans is the primary concern of Veterans Affairs Canada, and alongside Medavie Blue Cross, we are continuing to process applications for Veterans seeking cannabis for medical purposes. For a list of frequently asked questions, please see here, or call Medavie Blue Cross at 1-866-522-2122.

Tuesday 7 April

Be aware of COVID-19 scams

Due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, there has been an increase in scams and phishing attacks about COVID-19 benefits.

As the Government of Canada introduces new supports for Canadians who are facing hardship during this time, we remind you to be vigilant when receiving phone calls, emails and text messages that refer to these new benefits. The best place to find information on Canada’s Economic Response plan is at Canada.ca/coronavirus.

The best way to defend yourself against cyber-attacks is with information. If you can recognize the signs of a phishing campaign, you’ll be better equipped to protect your personal information from cyber scammers.

Please visit Get Cyber Safe for details on signs of a phishing campaign, and how to stay safe.

Friday 20 March

Temporary Public Service Health Care Plan changes

The Government of Canada has implemented temporary changes to the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP). These new measures are designed to help plan members and their eligible dependents access healthcare benefits, while at the same time, minimizing their social interaction with healthcare professionals as well as supporting the social distancing directive.

In summary, these measures include:

  • Extending travel emergency benefits;
  • Relaxing the dispensing limit for maintenance medications and allow the pharmacist to exercise professional discretion whether to dispense the medication sooner;
  • Accepting claims for social workers as mental health professionals; and
  • Removing the requirement for a prescription for mental health and physiotherapy services.

These temporary changes will be in effect until April 24, 2020, with the possibility of being extended.

More information on these changes is available on canada.ca. Plan members who require assistance with travel-related medical emergencies in Canada and the United States should call Allianz toll-free at 1-800-667-2883. Those in all other countries should call Allianz collect at 519-742-1342

Thursday 19 March

Message from the Minister

To our Veterans:

As we all grapple with the realities of COVID-19, I want you to know that Veterans Affairs Canada employees are continuing to work every day to serve you and your families. 

The last few weeks have certainly presented our team with a new set of challenges, but we adapted as quickly as possible to what is, for the time being, our new normal. 

Most of our employees are now working remotely, where they are answering your calls, responding to your secure messages, making decisions on urgent disability claims, and issuing payments. They’re doing this as best they can, and as the days go by, we’ll continue to speed up these processes.

If we can help with anything, please reach out by phone or through your My VAC Account. These are difficult times for everyone, and if you need us, we will do everything we can to provide you with the support you need.

Of course, we’ll continue to update our website and social media channels with the latest information, and I encourage you to check back often. 

And before I close, I just want to remind everyone to please stay at home if you can — it’s important in keeping not just yourself healthy, but in keeping your friends, your family, and your community healthy, as well.

Keep listening to the experts, and keep looking out for each other. We’ll get through this together.

LM

Lawrence MacAulay
Minister of Veterans Affairs & Associate Minister of National Defence

Questions and Answers

  • What’s the best way to reach VAC right now?

    At this time, client and visitor access to our area offices is suspended until further notice. You can continue to connect with us:

    • through My VAC Account secure messaging; or
    • by calling us at 1-866-522-2122. We are maintaining a strong capacity to support Veterans over the phone because we recognize that stable internet connections can sometimes be difficult.

    Ultimately, we encourage you to stay home and follow the directions of local health authorities. Our staff are available, working remotely and prioritizing getting benefits to Veterans and their families.

    We thank you for your patience and understanding during this time.

  • Are you still processing applications?

    Our staff are available, working remotely and prioritizing getting benefits to Veterans and their families.

    Our teams continue to make decisions on treatment and benefits and issue payments to Veterans. Since March 17, we have increased the number of employees able to work from home who adjudicate, process and pay disability claims. We are making as many decisions as possible and quickly issuing payments to Veterans.

  • I am unable to obtain the documentation requested for my disability benefits application. What happens now?

    We understand that, in the current situation, it may be more difficult to collect the documentation you need for your application, especially if you do not have regular access to your health practitioner. We want to assure you that your date of application is protected, even if you are unable to submit medical (or other) information to support your claim until later. If your claim is approved, you will be paid back to this date. It is important to remember, Pain & Suffering Compensation decisions and effective dates cannot predate April 1, 2019.

    What this means for your application:

    • If the information we requested from you will be delayed:
    • you do not need to request an extension from the Department,
    • your claim may be placed on hold in the interim, and
    • we will continue processing your application once the required documentation has been received.

    When available, the required information may be sent to us in one of the following ways:

    • upload through My VAC Account, or
    • by mail at:
      Veterans Affairs Canada
      PO Box 6000
      Matane QC
      G4W 0E4
  • What mental health resources are available to me during this uncertain time?

    The VAC Assistance Service is a free, 24/7 mental health resource that connects you to psychological support and counselling. You do not have to be receiving VAC benefits to use this service. Call 1-800-268-7708 to speak to a mental health professional right now.

    If you have an Operational Stress Injury (OSI), OSI clinics have started offering tele-health services to Veterans.

  • In person Service Canada offices are closed to the public. How can I apply for VAC benefits and services?

    If you would like to apply for VAC benefits and services or need assistance completing your application, please call us at 1-866-522-2122 or message us online through My VAC Account Secure Messaging. However, if your inquiry is not urgent, we ask that you consider contacting us at a later time, so we can focus on the most urgent needs.

    If you need more information on changes to Employment Insurance and the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit, please see Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response plan.

  • I am struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Can VAC assist me?

    If you are struggling to meet your needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact us. We will work with you to find ways to best support you and your family.

  • What is VAC doing to inform Veterans?

    Read more:

    For Government of Canada updates visit Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

  • Will I still receive my medications and prescriptions through VAC’s federal licensed sellers?

    Please contact your federal licensed seller of cannabis to find out current operating policies as these companies operate separately from retail cannabis stores.

    If your federal licensed seller is out of cannabis for medical purposes, you may now transfer your medical authorization document from one federal licensed seller to another without getting a new medical authorization document from your health care practitioner, as long as it is still valid. Your new federal licensed seller will contact Medavie Blue Cross to get authorization for direct billing.

    List of federal licensed sellers

    Please note federal licensed sellers are privately-owned enterprises, Veterans Affairs Canada does not have control over cannabis supplies. Health Canada regulates federal licensed sellers. You may contact Health Canada at cannabis@canada.ca if you have concerns regarding the supply of cannabis available.

  • I applied for my Veteran Service Card and haven’t received it, why is there a delay?

    The Government of Canada is taking precautionary measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and is temporarily stopping Veteran Service Card production. Production and distribution of the cards will begin as soon as it is safe to do so. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Please visit the Veteran Service Card for more information.

  • Is the Department continuing to accept and conduct Departmental Reviews during COVID?

    Yes. We are continuing to accept and conduct Departmental Reviews during COVID. The Bureau of Pensions Advocates also continues to make progress in digitizing Departmental Review claims which will also help improve the time for processing these claims.

  • Are you still making Corrective Payments during COVID?

    Yes, we are still making corrective payments during the ongoing COVID-19 situation. If between 2003 and 2010, you received a disability pension or certain related benefits that we administer, you may receive a corrective payment because of a discrepancy in our calculations.

    Most payments are automatic, however, please contact us at 1-866-522-2122 if:

    • You no longer receive benefits that we administer, or
    • You are the legal representative of the estate of a deceased benefit recipient.

    If you are legally entitled to inherit assets from the estate of a deceased recipient, you may apply to receive a corrective payment. You will be able to apply via an online application form, where you can also upload the required supporting documents, or by using a paper application and sending us hard copies of these documents. To apply, you will need to provide certain information and documents, including:

    • Deceased’s permanent residence at time of death, place and date of death, and other identifiers (Service number or Regimental Number, and VAC File number or K number).
    • Deceased’s death certificate
    • Deceased’s will (if they died with a will)
    • Release signed by all other persons legally entitled to inherit (or “succeed to”) the assets of the deceased (form provided in application)
    • Proof of your identity

    You may also request an estimate via the online portal, available through our website.

One-time payment to persons with disabilities

  • What is the One-time payment to persons with disabilities?

    In recognition of the extraordinary expenses faced by persons with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada is providing a one-time payment, non-taxable and non-reportable amount of up to $600 to persons with disabilities who are eligible for certain federal income supports.

  • How do I know if I qualify for the payment?

    You are eligible for this payment if you are the beneficiary of at least one of the following federal benefits as of 1 July 2020:

    • Canada Pension Plan Disability;
    • Quebec Pension Plan Disability;
    • Disability supports provided by VAC; and/or,
    • A Disability Tax Credit certificate provided by the Canada Revenue Agency.

    Veterans (War Service and CAF) and former RCMP clients eligible for any of the following disability-related programs as of 1 July 2020 qualify for the payment:

    • Disability Pension;
    • Disability Award;
    • Pain and Suffering Compensation;
    • Critical Injury Benefit;
    • Income Replacement Benefit;
    • Rehabilitation Services and Vocational Assistance Program; and/or
    • Canadian Forces Income Support Benefit.
  • How and when will I receive the payment?

    The payment is issued in the form of cheque or direct deposit. Payments are expected to be issued beginning this Fall. The payment information will be provided on the One-time payment to persons with disabilities web page once available.

  • Who can I contact with questions about the payment?

    For more information on the One-time payment to persons with disabilities, please visit the COVID-19 - Emergency benefits page on Canada.ca.

    Canada Pension Plan Disability

    • 1-800-277-9914 (English)
    • 1-800-277-9915 (French)
    • 1-800-255-4786 (TTY)

    Disability Tax Credit

    • 1-800-959-8281 (English)
    • 1-800-959-7383 (French)

    Quebec Pension Plan Disability

    • 1-800-463-5185 (English French)

Impact of COVID-19 Emergency Benefits on Veterans Affairs Canada Financial Benefits

  • If I receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, will it impact my Income Replacement Benefit payment? Will it count toward the $20,000 work income?

    No. If you receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, it will not affect your VAC Income Replacement Benefit payment. It also won’t count against the $20,000 you can earn before offsetting your Income Replacement Benefit payment.

  • If I receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, will it impact my Canadian Forces Income Support payment?

    No. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will not affect the Canadian Forces Income Support payment you receive from VAC.

  • If I receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, will it impact my War Veterans Allowance payment?

    No. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will not affect the War Veterans Allowance payment you receive from VAC.

  • If I receive COVID-19 emergency benefits from my Provincial or Territorial government, will those impact any income support benefits I receive from VAC?

    No. Any COVID-19 emergency benefits you receive from your provincial or territorial government will not impact the income support benefits you receive from VAC.

  • Can VAC tell me if the COVID-19 emergency benefits are taxable and whether they will they have any impact on my income tax for 2020?

    Unfortunately, VAC is not able to answer questions about how the COVID-19 emergency benefits may impact your income tax status. If you have concerns about how these benefits may impact your tax status, we recommend you contact your financial advisor or the Canada Revenue Agency. For residents of Quebec, you may wish to contact Revenue Quebec.

How has Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes been Impacted by COVID-19?

  • Will cannabis for medical purposes reimbursement requests continue to be processed?

    Yes. Medavie Blue Cross, which processes cannabis for medical purposes requests on behalf of VAC, is continuing to operate in accordance with provincial health authority guidance.

  • What happens if my medical authorization document expires, and I can’t see my doctor/nurse practitioner now due to COVID-19? What happens if my medical specialist’s supporting letter has expired, or is about to expire, and I can’t see them now due to COVID-19?

    If you are having difficulty getting a new medical specialist letter due to the COVID-19 outbreak, please check with your medical specialist as they may still be offering services by phone or telehealth (video appointment). If this is not an option, you may wish to confirm with your federal licensed seller whether they can put you in touch with a medical specialist who offers telehealth appointments.

    If you are unable to access a medical specialist by telehealth in order to obtain a new supporting letter, please call Medavie Blue Cross at 1-866-522-2122.

  • What if I’m a new client, and I want to be reimbursed by VAC for more than three grams of cannabis for medical purposes per day?

    If you do not have a supporting letter from a medical specialist, VAC can only approve reimbursement of three grams per day of cannabis for medical purposes.

    If you purchase more than three grams per day from your federal licensed seller, please keep your receipts. If you are approved by VAC for reimbursement of more than three grams per day, we will consider reimbursing any receipts after the effective date of your approval.

  • Will federal licensed sellers run out of cannabis for medical purposes?

    VAC has contacted a number of federal licensed sellers, and they have indicated that they currently have adequate supplies of cannabis for medical purposes to fulfill customer needs.

  • What about delivery of my products?

    Currently, most delivery operations are continuing as normal. For any updates on delivery service, please visit the following website(s):

    Canada Post
    FedEx
    Purolator

Education and Training Benefit during the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • I can’t finish my courses because of COVID-19. Do I have to pay any money back to VAC?

    We know there may be many Education and Training Benefit participants who have been affected by COVID 19. We will work with you to determine the best course of action if your course, education, or training has been impacted by COVID-19. Please contact us as soon as possible at 1-866-522-2122.

    Normally, if you are taking a formal program, you need to complete your courses each term and report this before any future payments will be made. If you do not complete your courses, you are required to pay back funding that was provided for that period of study.

    If your courses are affected by COVID-19, you must contact us about your situation before we can confirm that you will not need to pay back any money.

  • My school has closed due to COVID-19 and is not offering an alternative way for me to complete my term. What information does Veterans Affairs need so I am not in an overpayment situation?

    You must notify us as soon as possible if your educational institution closes or does not offer an alternative way to continue your program. Please send us the following information through My VAC Account to help avoid having to repay any money (i.e. overpayment):

    • Reason you discontinued the course
    • Date you discontinued the course
    • Documentation from your educational institution indicating the status of your courses and program, and confirming that these courses are not considered complete
    • Documentation that there was no alternative way to continue or complete your studies; and
    • Documentation of any unreturned tuition funds from your educational institution.

    For more information, please send us a secure message through My VAC Account or call us at 1-866-522-2122.

  • My school has granted me an extension to complete my current period of study. Do I have to amend my plan to reflect this extra time?

    No. In this instance, you will not be required to amend your plan unless the start date of your next period of study is changing.

  • My upcoming period of study has been cancelled. Do I need to submit a plan amendment?

    Yes, in this circumstance, you need to submit a Plan amendment form so that your payment schedule is updated to reflect this change. Please provide supporting documentation from your school that confirms your upcoming period of study has been cancelled. You can submit this documentation online through My VAC Account.

  • Although my school has found ways to continue courses, I can’t finish my studies because of my personal situation (such as being sick, needing to work, currently a caregiver, or for another reason). What should I do and will I have to pay money back?

    If you can't continue your classes or need more time to finish your education, please contact your school to discuss options such as class extensions or other accommodations.

    Once you know your options from the school, please contact us to discuss your situation. If you must leave your program before completion, additional funding cannot be provided later under the Education and Training Benefit to complete these courses. However, we will take into consideration the impacts of COVID-19 on your personal situation when determining if any money will need to be repaid to us. Please provide us with the following information:

    • Reason you discontinued the course
    • Date you discontinued the course
    • Details on what options your school provided to you
    • Proof of your status in the courses you are in, and;
    • Proof of any returned tuition from your educational institution.

    If you do not provide supporting documentation to us for review, you may be in an overpayment situation.

    If you need to make a change to your existing education plan, please tell us as soon as possible by completing and submitting the Education and Training Benefit Plan Amendment (VAC 1573 form). We will check your updated plan and, if approved, recalculate your payment schedule for the remaining periods of study.

  • My school is now totally on-line, but I do not have the necessary equipment or setup in order to participate. Will VAC pay for a computer or Internet services?

    If you cannot take part in online education, please connect with your school to see what options they may have for you.

    We cannot issue any additional funds outside of the amount you have been already given. Education and Training Benefit payments are intended to provide funding to cover mandatory education costs such as tuition and some other expenses that may be incurred while attending school. Any additional funding that remains after mandatory costs have been paid can be used at a Veterans’ discretion.

  • There is a delay in obtaining documentation from my school to provide proof of completion for the current period. Will you process my monitoring form without proof of completion?

    We can't process your monitoring form without proof of completion. We ask that you contact your school to receive up to date information about your program.

    We may consider information from the school, such as proof of good academic standing and proof of enrollment to release more payments. Many schools are still open, but have taken different measures, such as teleworking. This can mean delays in getting supporting information needed for the Education and Training Benefit.

    Please submit your VAC1550e Monitoring Form once your documents are available from your school. If you do not submit all the information to us before your period of study begins, you will not be provided funding for that period.

  • Education Resources in Canada

    List of Canadian Universities and Affiliated Colleges by Province
    This site provides links to the homepages of Canadian Universities by name and province

    Colleges and Institutes Canada
    Colleges and Institutes Canada represents 137 of Canada’s publicly funded colleges and institute

    National Association of Career Colleges (NACC)
    The NACC is a national association representing 500 regulated career colleges from across the country. It has an elected Board of Directors that oversees the organization and is responsible to its members. The NACC staff administers the day-to-day business of the association and reports to the Board of Directors and the members. Each PCC is assigned a Private Career College Inspector.

    Given the current circumstances, it is the view of NACC that the theory components of all NACC programs can be delivered through alternative methods of instruction in accordance with the guidelines and approval process proposed by MTCU.

    NACC schools in Canada

    Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities
    This group provides direction to Private Career Colleges. To facilitate streamlined and timely decisions, the Superintendent of Private Career Colleges will require an attestation, signed by an individual with authority to bind the private career college, that the private career college has the current capacity to train, evaluate, and support students via alternative methods of instruction without significant loss of program quality.

    Suspension of Operations
    If a private career college is required to suspend operations entirely, the Superintendent of Private Career Colleges expects the operator to inform their inspector immediately and to ensure that students are adequately supported during the period of suspension.

    Supports for students should include planning for the resumption of programs following the suspension, ongoing communications and updates concerning the duration of the suspension, and provisions for refunds of training fees should students choose not to continue in programs during or following the suspension.

    Universities Canada
    The Universities Canada website is publishing regular updates on the situation facing Canada’s universities with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Flight Schools
    According to information published on Transport Canada’s website, the following COVID-19 update on aviation Medical Certificates has been posted:

    Civil Aviation Medical Examiners (CAMEs) are not to perform aviation medical examinations on behalf of Transport Canada until further notice, unless authorized by Civil Aviation Medicine due to exceptional circumstances. In addition, many flight schools have suspended flight training operations and discontinued in-person ground school classes. Some schools are making the transition to an alternate on-line format, and students should receive instructions from their flight school pertaining to access and operation.

    Bank of Montreal
    BMO offers a preferred interest-rate CDCB Student Line of Credit that members of the Canadian Forces can use to pay tuition and other expenses so you can focus on your studies. BMO CDCB Program benefits are exclusive to all members of Canada’s defence community and their families

    Canada Student Loans and Grants –ESDC
    The Canada Student Loans Program provides repayable loans and non-repayable grants to help Canadian students pay for their post-secondary education. Federal loans and grants are delivered in partnership with participating provinces and territories and are available to:

    • full- and part-time students;
    • students from low- and middle-income families;
    • students with dependants; and
    • students with permanent disabilities.
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