National Defence Owes Federal Treasury $147M For Unauthorized Expenses

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OTTAWA —  The Trudeau government has ordered National Defence to reimburse the federal Treasury Board for over $147 million in unauthorized expenses incurred by members of the military over nearly a dozen years.

The department acknowledged five years ago it had made a mistake when it allowed soldiers and civilian staff to claim some travel expenses and benefits that fell outside of federal guidelines.

harjit sajjan
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan speak in the foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, May 5, 2016. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

The practice went on between April 1999 and January 2011, but was then halted following an independent analysis.

At the time, the military said the mistake involved "tens of millions of dollars" over five years and it would try to get the Treasury Board to cover the expenses, which included, among other things, the visits of families of the fallen to Kandahar during the Afghan war.

They also involved travel fee reimbursement for troops deployed in different parts of Canada, bonuses for overseas postings and allowances for soldiers assigned away from families.

It seems National Defence lost the argument and the Liberal government was unwilling to simply write off the cash.

Laura McIntyre-Grills, a defence spokeswoman, says the payments were made in good faith and those who received them have been released from liability.

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