EXCLUSIVE: DND to stop compensating same-city moves for retiring military

WATCH: Global News has learned the Canadian military will no longer foot the bill for senior officers to move within the same city when they retire. Jacques Bourbeau has the details.

OTTAWA – The federal government will no longer reimburse retiring Canadian Forces members’ same-city moves following a Global News series exposing the tab for several moves at hundreds of thousands of dollars.

National Defence intends to announce a new policy that no longer pays military members for same-city moves when they retire, with exceptions for sick or disabled military members.

The government also plans to rein in open-ended costs.

“We will fix the system,” Conservative MP Parm Gill, parliamentary secretary for Veterans Affairs, said in an interview.

The decision follows a series of Global News stories that revealed it cost nearly $600,000 to move Generals, many of them retired, within the same city or just outside the city limits over the past five years.

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The priciest move was that of Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Andrew Leslie, now an advisor to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and who is hoping to run for the Liberals in the riding of Ottawa-Orleans. Leslie received $72,000 to move from one house in the upscale Ottawa neighbourhood of Rockcliffe to another just 2.5 kilometres away.

Included in that tab was $7.70 in mileage and $271.22 in per diems for the move.

Leslie did not file for those two payments; they were given to him automatically. But documents show he did sign off to receive them.

“Seventy thousand dollars for a move down the street in the same neighbourhood, I do not believe any Canadian sees that being a good use of taxpayers’ money,” said Gill, who represents the Toronto riding of Brampton-Springdale.

DND’s retirement resettlement policy was designed to allow soldiers, who spend their career being posted around the country and sometimes around the world, to expense one final move when they retire so they can choose where they will live.

In February, Leslie told Global News that he and his family moved 18 times and he bought the first  house in Ottawa on a very short trip without the input of his wife.

“We decided to retire in Ottawa and not move out of the city. My wife found and chose the perfect house … fixed it up and here we are,” he wrote.

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Leslie said he knew how much the real estate and legal fees cost, which was the bulk of the bill, but did not know the full cost of his 2013 move.

With files from Rebecca Lindell

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