Veterans Independence Program: Supporting our Veterans and their Families
July 12, 2021Ottawa Journal (July 12 – July 16, 2021)
David Tilson, M.P. (Dufferin-Caledon)
We owe a debt of gratitude to our veterans. They selflessly answered the call of service for our great country and we know the freedoms we enjoy today are because of their many sacrifices. Our Government recognizes this and has continued to make veterans and their families a priority through various initiatives and programs such as the Veterans Independence Program (VIP).
VIP is a national home care program offered by Veterans Affairs Canada. It was established in 1981 to help veterans remain healthy and independent in their own homes and communities. The program wasn’t designed to replace any other federal, provincial, or municipal programs, but was intended to complement those existing programs, to ensure that our veterans receive the best assistance possible. Furthermore, the program is only available in Canada and cannot be provided to clients residing outside of Canada.
Under VIP, eligible veterans may receive assistance based on their circumstances and needs. The assistance may include: grounds maintenance, housekeeping, personal care services, access to nutrition services, as well as health and support services. Other services that may be available to veterans under VIP include: ambulatory (out-patient) health care, transportation costs, home adaptations, and nursing home care.
Veterans may qualify for VIP if they have a health-related need for the services and are: i) a disability client who needs VIP as a result of their disability entitlement; ii) a wartime (First World War, Second World War, and Korean War) pensioner with a disability that is pensioned at 48 per cent or higher; iii) a disability client with a number of health conditions that, together with the veterans disability entitlement, places the veteran at risk due to frailty; iv) a wartime veteran or overseas civilian who qualifies because of low income; v) totally disabled former prisoner of war; or vi) an overseas service veteran who is at home on a waitlist for a Priority Access Bed.
In Budget 2008, our Government expanded VIP to include low-income or disabled survivors of Veterans or civilians who served during the First World War, the Second World War, or the Korean War and meet the following criteria: i) were entitled to a disability pension under the Pension Act or the Civilian War-related Benefits Act; or ii) received an allowance under the War Veterans Allowance Act or the Civilian War-related Benefits or; iii) would have received an allowance if they had not been receiving benefits under the Old Age Security Act; and were not receiving VIP housekeeping and/or grounds maintenance benefits when they died or were admitted to a health care facility.
In order to qualify for VIP under this expansion, the survivor (in most cases, survivors are spouses or common-law partners) must: receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement under the Old Age Security Act; or be approved for the Disability Tax Credit and; have a health need and require VIP housekeeping and/or grounds maintenance services to remain independent in their home; and not have access to the services under a provincial health care system or a private insurance policy; and be a resident of Canada.
Eligible survivors may receive housekeeping and/or grounds maintenance benefits up to a maximum of $2,400 per year under the VIP expansion. Examples of housekeeping services include: vacuuming; laundry, including ironing and mending; making and changing beds; cleaning floors; as well as dusting and general pick-up. Grounds maintenance services may include: snow removal from steps, walkways, and driveways to allow safe access to the principal residence; lawn mowing and raking; periodical cleaning of leaves and debris from eaves troughs; as well as snow and ice removal from roofs and eaves troughs when conditions pose a threat to safety and access.
For more information on VIP and to apply, please contact Veterans Affairs Canada by calling toll free, 1-866-522-2122, or visit www.vac-acc.gc.ca.