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DND owes federal treasury $147M for unauthorized expenses

The facade of the headquarters of the Department of National Defense is pictured in Ottawa, on April 3, 2013.
The facade of the headquarters of the Department of National Defense is pictured in Ottawa, on April 3, 2013. Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

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.

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.

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