Prince Edward IslandPrince Edward Island news
Updated: Fri, 01 Mar 2013 10:34:18 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Widow claims unfair treatment from Veterans Affairs



Widow claims unfair treatment from Veterans Affairs

The widow of an Island veteran says she's being treated unfairly by Veterans Affairs Canada.

Marcella Cormier, 68, has requested a free housekeeping service through the Veterans Independence Program.

But because she didn't receive the benefit while her husband was alive, she's not eligible now.

Cormier's husband, WWII veteran Sgt. Paul Cormier, passed away three years ago. She said her health has begun to decline.

"I had a sick spell myself, and I can't seem to be able to work like I used to be able to. I can't seem to work all day and never stop like I used to be able to," said Cormier.

For years Cormier and her husband received financial assistance from Veterans Affairs to help with the exterior maintenance of their home.

Now with her health failing, Cormier has been applying under a program to provide help with housekeeping but Veterans Affairs told her surviving spouses can only get the benefit if there partner was receiving it before they died.

"Years ago I didn't need that. Like we were getting along fine so we didn't feel it was right to ask for more money or whatever out of the government. But now I'm older, and getting a little older each year," said Cormier.

The Royal Canadian Legion's Dominion Command in Ottawa said there are many more veterans' widows across the country in the same situation as Cormier.

The legion has been pressuring the department of veterans affairs to change the rules.

Jim Ross, past president of the Royal Canadian Legion P.E.I. Command, said the government needs to show more compassion.

"Well, it's a bureaucracy and that's the way bureaucracy works. They have rules, they follow the rules. I guess it's our job to get those rules changed," said Ross.

Under this program, no surviving spouses qualified for any benefits until five years ago.

"While we cannot comment on a specific case due to privacy concerns, since 2008, we have opened the VIP program to veterans' widows to receive the same benefits that their service-injured veteran was receiving before their passing and over 38,000 veterans' widows are making use of this important program," said Jean-Christophe de le Rue, a spokesman for the Minister of Veterans Affairs Steven Blaney.

Cormier said all she wants is about $30 every two weeks to have someone come in and help her for a few hours.

She said she'll keep fighting to see these benefits extended to surviving partners like herself.

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