On Hold: Veterans facing long waits when calling for help

Feds aim to answer 80% of calls within two minutes, but only 40% last year actually were

New figures show many veterans have had a hard time getting anyone to pick up when they call Veterans Affairs Canada for information or assistance — with nearly one in five hanging up before their call is answered.

The figures uncovered by The Canadian Press through the access-to-information law show a continued trend of current and former service members being put on hold longer than promised when calling the department’s toll-free number.

While it aims to answer 80 per cent of calls within two minutes, only 40 per cent of the more than 440,000 calls received last year were answered within that target.

A further 84,000 calls were designated as abandoned, meaning the caller hung up.

Veterans usually call the number to apply for or get information about benefits and services, or to get updates on their applications.

READ MORE: B.C. city councillor’s motion to bill military for community events ‘shameful’

The department says it recently hired more employees to ensure call centres are fully staffed and now routinely meets the two-minute target, though it could not provide up-to-date figures because of a technical issue.

The Canadian Press

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