COVID-19 information and assistance for Veterans

VAC offices and Service Canada centres 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

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.

Personal Protective Equipment

  • I need personal protective equipment to attend my health appointments. Will VAC pay for this?

    Yes, you may be covered if you need to wear personal protective equipment such as non-medical masks and/or gloves to receive treatment. For more information, please call 1-866-522-2122.

    Additionally, if you need an escort to attend your appointment with you, their personal protective equipment will also be covered.

  • Where can I find personal protective equipment?

    Health professionals may have personal protective equipment free or available for purchase at their offices. You can check with your health professional if personal protective equipment will be supplied at your appointment or if you must bring your own.

    You can also reach out to medical supply companies such as pharmacies to buy personal protective equipment. We recommend you call ahead to see if they have any in stock.

  • What type of personal protective equipment is covered?

    We will reimburse personal protective equipment including non-medical masks and/or gloves. If your health professional requires you wear other personal protective equipment, please call 1-866-522-2122.

  • How do I get reimbursed for personal protective equipment?

    If you purchased personal protective equipment from your VAC registered health professional, your health professional may include these items as part of their claim for the service. If you purchase your own personal protective equipment, please submit a VAC 918 Client Reimbursement Claim Form to Medavie Blue Cross.

    You will need to submit your proof of payment (original receipt or invoice) that shows:

    • the date you received the benefit or service;
    • the name of the benefit or service;
    • the amount you paid; and,
    • the name and address of the provider.

    You can submit your request through your secure account at http://www.medavie.bluecross.ca/MyInfo or download the form and mail it to:

    National Reimbursement Centre
    PO Box 6700
    Moncton, NB E1C 0T8

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

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