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Burial fund for poor veterans rejects two-thirds of applications

Veterans say eligibility criteria for the federal burial fund for impoverished soldiers is too stringent.

The Last Post Fund, an independent agency that facilitates a federal funeral and grave-marker program for poor veterans, has turned down two-thirds of applicants since 2006.

Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney would not commit to re-shuffle the eligibility criteria.

“We are maintaining those benefits,” he said. “It is provided to those who need it the most and we’re always looking at ways to improve our program.”

Michael Blais of Canadian Veterans Advocacy said it is disrespectful to the veterans who put their lives on the line to serve the country.

“That’s not acceptable. This is Canada; we’re Canadians. It’s time for us to step up,” he said.

The families who do quality receive a $3,600 stipend — that is less than what some provinces put toward burial costs for the homeless or those receiving social assistance.

The opposition said the government cannot put a price on the sacrifice men and women who serve the country make and they deserve dignified funerals.