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Veterans Affairs could clear application backlog in a year if it hired hundreds: PBO

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OTTAWA - The parliamentary budget office says Veterans Affairs Canada can clear its backlog of disability benefit applications in a year if it hires nearly 400 more people.

The number of pending applications for benefits had reached almost 50,000 by the end of March, up from about 21,000 in March 2017.

Almost half the applications were considered complete and were waiting only for decisions by the department.

In June, Veterans Affairs said it would extend contracts for 160 employees it had hired temporarily to process applications, and to add another 300 to their number.

The PBO says all these extra people will only reduce the backlog by about 10,000 applications by March 2022, but hiring an additional 392 employees would end it in 12 months.

The report says that the influx of applications has consistently outpaced the department's capacity, leading to the growing backlog.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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