Canada. Dept. of Veterans Affairs : Until 1915 the Department of Militia and Defence took responsibility for matters relating to Canadian veterans. An autonomous Military Hospitals Commission, formed 30 June 1915 (P.C. 1540), was "to deal with the provision of hospital accommodation and convalescent homes in Canada." Renamed the Invalid Soldiers Commission on 21 February 1918, this was absorbed into the new Department of Soldiers' Civil Re-Establishment proclaimed on 24 May 1918 (8-9 Geo. V, ch. 42).
In addition, a publicly-subscribed Canadian Patriotic Fund was organized in August 1914, with responsibilities towards soldiers' families. Another publicly-subscribed Disabilities Fund was begun in 1915, as was a Pensions and Claims Board. This was superseded by the Board of Pension Commissioners, established by order-in-council (P.C. 1334) on 3 June 1916. Although the Board remained independent of the Department of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment, by the summer of 1921 the Board's field staff and head office were merged with those of the Department.
Reduced demand for veteran re-establishment allowed the government to combine the Department of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment and the Department of Health into a Department of Pensions and National Health in June 1928 (18-19 Geo. V, ch. 39).
On 30 June 1944 the Department of Veterans Affairs Act (8 Geo. VI, ch. 19) created a new department dealing exclusively with all matters affecting veterans and their dependents, its major functions being concerned with medical treatment, allowances, welfare work, rehabilitation of the disabled and land settlement. Even before the new legislation, orders-in-council made many of the veterans' benefits available during the war years. The new Department took over responsibility for all existing veterans' pension legislation.
From a personnel strength of just over 2,000 in the Department of Pensions and National Health in 1939, the new Department expanded to over 22,000 staff in February 1947, at the peak of the rehabilitation and treatment load.
Over the years a number of other organizations have been part of the responsibilities of the Minister of Veterans Affairs. The Bureau of Pension Advocates, which reported to the Minister, became part of the Department in September 1995. The Canadian Pension Commission and Veterans Appeal Board, independent bodies which previously reported to Parliament through the Minister of Veterans Affairs, were at the same time combined into the Veterans Review and Appeal Board, one appeal body dealing with pensions at two levels. The Pension Review Board and War Veterans Allowance Board have also at various times reported to Parliament through the Minister.