I call the meeting to order.
Good afternoon, everybody.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), a motion adopted on February 25, the committee resumes its study on service delivery to veterans.
The last part of the meeting will be on committee business.
I'd like to welcome the witnesses today.
First we have, from Maison La Vigile, Nancy Dussault, director of nursing, and Denis Simard, director general. From the Veterans Transition Network we have retired Sergeant Doug Allen, program coordinator, Atlantic, and Oliver Thorne, national operations director.
We'll follow the same order. We'll give each witness group 10 minutes and then we'll start with questions.
We'll start with La Vigile.
Thanks, and go ahead.
Mr. Chair, members of the committee, good afternoon.
My name is Jacques Denis Simard. I am the director general of Maison La Vigile, and I am the founding president. We obtained our letters patent in 1999.
Between 1999 to 2012, we worked with other therapy centres in the Quebec City area. Since 2012, we have had our own therapy centre with our experts and workshops for those in uniform.
During my career, for eight months, between June 1970 and February 1971, I was a member of the Royal 22nd Regiment in Quebec City.
Afterwards, I worked for the Sûreté du Québec for 33 years, from 1972 to 2005.
In 1988, I was discharged from my police duties to work as a responder for the Sûreté du Québec's peer-administered employee assistance program in Eastern Quebec. During that time, I recognized the urgency of having a therapy centre to help our men and women in uniform specifically because of the many distress calls and cases that we had to handle.
I will now give the floor to Ms. Dussault, after which I will tell you about the services provided by Maison La Vigile.
Good afternoon, Mr. Chair.
Good afternoon, everyone.
My name is Nancy Dussault and I am the director of nursing at the Maison La Vigile.
I have been a nurse for 23 years now. I have worked in various settings: hospitals, rehabilitation and geriatrics. For the past 15 years, I have been working in mental health.
From 2002 to 2014, I was the coordinator of the first responders service team for the CONSTRUIRE en santé program of the Commission de la Construction Du Québec. This program is available to 250,000 insured. A phone line is available 24 hours a day. It is an emergency service for people with psychological, dependency, violence and physical health problems.
I went through a career change in May 2014, and I arrived at Maison La Vigile. I am the director of nursing and my main role is to assess the clients. I supervise the alcohol withdrawal process and the physical and mental health of the people at the Maison La Vigile.
In addition to my training as a nurse, I also have training in psychodynamic psychotherapy and I am now finishing a certificate in psychology.
I also attended many crisis response training sessions for suicidal behaviours, personality disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and depressive disorders. In a nutshell, that's my career path.
I will now give the floor to Jacques Denis Simard to tell you about our services.
The Maison La Vigile has four divisions. The first is the therapy centre, which has six distinct therapeutic services. I will come back to it later. The second is PAPV, the assistance program. The third is training. And the fourth component is research and development.
The star in the logo represents those who watch over others in society. It also symbolizes the lucky star of those protecting the public. It is also La Vigile's mission to protect those who come to meet us. The heart in the logo symbolizes the humanity of those people, the staff and the clients. The double bar is a roof, symbolizing the Maison, a place of comfort for those in uniform. You will also see in the logo three unidentified individuals, suggesting that all those in uniform have access to La Vigile therapy centre.
La Vigile therapy centre is in Quebec City. We can accommodate 16 people at a time for stays ranging from one week to one month. We are a not-for-profit agency that assists past and present uniformed front-line workers. We also provide a 24-hour help line to our clients and their families.
We are well known in the entire province of Quebec. Our clients include police officers, military personnel, veterans, firefighters, peace officers, health professionals—nurses, psychologists, social workers, doctors, pharmacists, and so on—family members, spouses and children over 18 years of age, persons retired from uniformed positions, and other members of the public as needed.
We provide two 30-day programs, the addiction program and the depression program. All our programs entail psychoeducational workshops and a cognitive behavioural approach, the approach recommended by health professionals, particularly for past and present uniformed members.
The addiction program provides an opportunity to follow an alcohol and drug withdrawal program under medical supervision. It is available 24 hours a day. We also provide one-on-one meetings with a worker twice a week, and more than 20 group sessions and weekly workshops on various addiction-related topics.
The depression program seeks to improve self-awareness and understanding of depression and its impacts, to develop coping strategies and to improve interpersonal relationships. It also includes the teaching of calming techniques and a personal development component with eight one-on-one meetings.
The short workshop on post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is part of the psychoeducational workshops. We focus on general facts about PTSD, core beliefs, symptom management strategies, managing emotions, cognitive distortions and various calming techniques. Our goal is to help program participants understand why they have certain ailments or certain negative thoughts and reactions. According to Kessler, 80% of people with PTSD also have another psychological condition.
Anxiety management focuses on signs of anxiety, cognitive distortions, coping strategies, automatic thoughts, risk factors for stress, self-medication risks, control strategies and calming techniques.
We also have an eight-day anger management program. The basic principle is that anger in and of itself is fine as an emotion, but that someone who channels it in a different way may end up in a bad situation. We look at anger and how it can be productive, the consequences of poor anger management, triggers, perceptions and reality, as well as the stages of emotional management.
Respite services are available to individuals who come to us and need some downtime for various reasons.
The length varies. It can take from two days to four and a half months. I will not elaborate, since I want to have time to finish my presentation.
The second division is the assistance program, PAPV. We have service contracts with Sûreté du Québec, the MRC des Collines-de-l'Outaouais and the CSN Fédération de la santé et des services sociaux to serve their clients with an external assistance program. All those employees have free access to the Maison La Vigile and external consultation, with no interview limit.
Our third division is training. We are experts in training those in uniform. We provide sentinel training and training on stress-related interventions in particular.
We provide sentinel training to police officers in the City of Lévis and the people of the MRC des Collines-de-l'Outaouais. We are also preparing training for the dispatchers of the City of Montreal Police Service.
We also provided in-house training to the firefighters of Lévis, Kingsey Falls and Danville, as well as the Radio-Canada cameramen and journalists. We also provided training on stress to the members of the Quebec City Police Service.
The fourth division is research and development. We give students from Laval University and CEGEPs an opportunity to do internships with us in psychoeducation, social services, as well as delinquency and addiction intervention techniques.
La Vigile is also organizing an international conference, in partnership with the École nationale de police du Québec. The conference will take place in 2018 and focus on health and public security issues.
That is the end of my presentation. Ms. Dussault will continue.
I will provide you with some figures on the admissions of clients to our programs. From 2013 to 2015, 36% of requests had to do with an addiction issue, 32%, depression, 19%, respite, 8%, PTSD, 4%, anger management, and 1%, anxiety management.
It is important to understand that someone in one program, such as the addiction program, can also have a depression and PTSD diagnosis, as well as an anger and anxiety management issue. Furthermore, 58% of residents have suicidal thoughts.
The requests of Veterans Affairs Canada clients come mainly from the department's case managers, the operational stress injury clinic, the OSISS program—for the operational stress injury social support—or directly from veterans who call us. In that last case, the veterans are redirected to Veterans Affairs Canada to talk to a case manager who will then connect them with us for their application. Generally, the confirmation of the stay at La Vigile from Veterans Affairs Canada case managers takes less than 48 hours.
The main reason for admission of military personnel and veterans is addiction, meaning the alcohol and drug withdrawal program, which requires 24-hour medical supervision and participation in psychoeducational workshops.
La Vigile is the only specialized centre for those in uniform in Quebec that provides a 24-hour medical service for alcohol withdrawal. It is important to understand that alcohol withdrawal comes with risks, especially during the first 48 hours after stopping consumption. There are risks of convulsions, delirium and even death. The presence of medical staff is a must for the first 48 hours.
The respite service is also very much in demand for managing post-traumatic stress symptoms, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts, for developing a healthy lifestyle and dealing with home and workplace stress.
I will now talk about the criteria for excluding patients from our programs.
The nurse must complete an assessment...
...over the phone. The exclusion criteria are: high-risk alcohol withdrawal, where 20 or more drinks are consumed a day; imminent risk of suicidal, homicidal or violent threats; severe psychological instability, such as psychosis; aggressive behaviour during assessment or refusal to follow the centre's rules.
In terms of the percentages of use of our services, from 2013 to 2015, military personnel accounted for 22% of our clientele, veterans, 19%, other uniformed positions, 42%, and civilians, 17%.
So far, for 2016, military personnel have accounted for 12% of our clientele, veterans, 29%, other uniformed positions, 47%, and civilians, 12%.
Ninety-four per cent of our customers report that they are satisfied with the services received at La Vigile and that they achieved their treatment objectives.
This concludes our presentation.
We are ready to answer any questions you may have.
Hello, everyone. My name is Oliver Thorne. I am the national operations director for the Veterans Transition Network, which is a registered Canadian charity and service provider to Veterans Affairs Canada.
Our mission as an organization is the delivery of our 10-day veterans transition programs across Canada. Our mission is to make those programs as accessible as possible to any veteran across Canada who may request them.
Essentially our program, as I said, is a 10-day group-based program with the mission of helping Canadian Forces service members and veterans to identify and overcome barriers to transition back into civilian life.
We break up those 10 days into three phases, or what we call three workshops, and each workshop has a particular focus. In the first place we're looking at building a cohesive group of those veterans so they can do this work together, so trust-building is very important in the initial stages.
We're then looking to teach communications skills, which we're encouraging the participants to use throughout the program, the idea being that by the time the program comes to an end, these skills will be second nature to them.
The whole basis is teaching skills and competencies that can be used in the transition back into civilian life, so phase one—the focus of the communications skills—is very much around reconnecting with family members and loved ones, perhaps after returning from service overseas or in that transition period on leaving the military.
Of those three workshops, there is a two- to three-week break in between each one. That's specifically designed so the participants are taking these skills back to their lives at home in between the program days and rehearsing those skills, and then returning to the group, reporting on what's working and what's not, and picking up new competencies along the way.
As the members return to the second phase of the program, the next four-day block, we are working on trauma education, psychoeducation, and providing any skills that we can to help them manage symptoms they may have of operational stress injuries or post-traumatic stress.
As we near the end of that phase, they would then return to their day-to-day life again to practise those skills and return for the final two days of the program on phase three. At this stage we're looking at long-term planning for life after the program, connecting them to continuing resources, such as one-on-one counselling or perhaps a career transition they may be looking at, and helping them make long-term plans for life after the program.
As a little bit of background about our program, it was developed first in 1997 at the University of British Columbia by Doctors Marvin Westwood, David Kuhl, and Tim Black. Over the next 15 years or so, it was researched and developed at UBC with funding from the Royal Canadian Legion in British Columbia.
In 2012 the Veterans Transition Network was incorporated as a not-for-profit, and is now a Canadian charity with the mission of taking that program across Canada and making it accessible to veterans. In the same year, Veterans Affairs reviewed our research and reviewed our program and accepted us as a service provider. We've been seeing Veterans Affairs clients now every year since, and we're up to roughly 50 clients who have now taken our program through Veterans Affairs funding.
For about two-thirds of the clients we see, we raise funds from the community in order to put them through the program, because they have either not accessed Veterans Affairs funding or the funding they do have with Veterans Affairs does not cover their attendance on the program.
Again, with our mission as an organization to make this program accessible, a large part of our day-to-day activities is raising the funds to put those members through who would not otherwise be able to access the program.
Since 2012 we've expanded from one province into six. By the end of the year we'll be in seven provinces. We're working to train both psychologists and clinical counsellors across Canada, as well as regional staff, such as retired Sergeant Doug Allen here, who is our man in Atlantic Canada.
We are working to create programs in both French and English, so we're currently training bilingual clinicians local to Quebec, and we anticipate that by the end of next year we will have delivered our first program in French. Really, that is the bulk of our mission, which is to make sure that we make this program as accessible as possible to Canadian veterans.
I'll hand it over to my colleague Doug to talk a little bit about his work, both as a coordinator and now in training with us as one of the clinicians who helps to deliver our program.
My name is Doug Allen. I'm a retired infantry soldier, and now I have a master's degree in social work. My relationship with the Veterans Transition Network is that I graduated from the program myself. Like many veterans, I decided to make sure I was advocating for everybody else, and I wanted to make sure this program was good to go for my troops. What I found was that I needed more help than I thought, and I got it from the veterans transition program. Since then, I joined the team as a coordinator for Atlantic. I have been the para, and now I'm also a clinician in the program.
One of the differences with the veterans transition program is that it uses camaraderie, the same thing that soldiers need to do their job when they go into combat or tough situations. The veterans transition program re-creates that camaraderie, which they need in order to identify their triggers and their stuck points in life. They utilize that camaraderie to get themselves out of that. That's what the veterans transition program does.
When Oliver was talking about it, he broke it down into three phases. It's one of the most important components of the veterans transition program, because it enables us to get out of that safety bubble that was created by the program itself. We leave the safety bubble and we go back into what's essentially the unknown, civilian life. That is what scared us, because we're not used to it, and that's usually where our troubles occur. It's not while we are on a mission; it's when we're at home.
Using the space in between the phases, we're able to go back to where we feel unsafe and use the skills we learned where we did feel safe, which was within the veterans transition program. With how we developed the program, we're able to see what works and what doesn't. We know we're coming back into that bubble in the next phase, and we're able to say what worked. Then we're able to tailor what has to happen the next time. Instead of it not working and having no answer, individuals are still part of the program when they come back in. We can work with them on that so we can fine-tune it for success in the next phase. That is one of the key components to the success of the veterans transition program.
Thank you all for being here with us today.
To the Veterans Transition Network, I visited your installation in Vancouver when I was there last May.
I am very pleased that representatives from the Maison de la Vigile came to meet with the committee. I live near the Maison de la Vigile in Quebec City and I can say that you are doing a great job. Thank you very much.
We may have to interrupt you sometimes because we have a number of questions for you. Do not be taken aback by that.
Inevitably, you work with veterans very often. In fact, you work with them every day and I imagine that many of them express their discontent, rightly or wrongly, with case managers and with the way the Department of Veterans Affairs operates.
What do you think of the administrative process and the organizational practices of Veterans Affairs Canada? What is your relationship with case managers? How do you see the department’s way of operating? Are the administrative processes followed properly? Are there things that need to be replaced?
I can speak to that from an operational perspective as well.
As Doug was saying, we are keen to keep that program accessible. If somebody who may not be in an area where we're consistently delivering requests the program, then we will, as a charity, eat the cost of bringing them down, whether it's flying them down, paying for their travel, and paying for a ferry or a taxi, or whatever it may be. We will cover their costs to attend the program.
We keep our eyes on those areas, and when we hit the critical mass for a local program, that's when we would look at finding a local centre where we can deliver the program. When we hit the magic number—and for us it is six to eight, because each of the programs we run is small and has six veterans attending for the first time—we start to look seriously at expanding in that area.
As well, speaking about local resources, our mission as we grow across Canada is to train clinicians locally. That includes registered psychologists and registered clinical counsellors or their equivalents. We're looking to train them in local communities, so that not only do our costs of delivery go down and become more sustainable, but we're also training psychologists and clinicians in local communities in working with veterans so that better care is available in those communities at large, as well as through our programs.
I will give that to Doug to speak about the experiences in the program and what people are saying.
One of the things I've found.... As an operations director, my direct contact with clients is limited these days, because I'm overseeing our program expansion. What I have heard in the past, especially working as a coordinator, is that people are not necessarily always struggling with unemployment, but they're struggling with under-employment. I think there is that lack of purpose and not feeling invested in what they're doing, or not feeling as if they have a future or a career in the area where they're working.
That's something we try to focus on in the program, which is to find out where their interests may lie and perhaps what their long-term goals could be. Yes, I think there is a lack of investment sometimes, and a lack of purpose in that sense.
We teach soldiers how to listen and speak all over again. It's something that probably even civilians could learn.
When we use it with veterans, of course, they have their own culture and their own way of speaking. They're also dedicated to learning how to get things done, so they're dedicated to learning how to speak and how to listen.
When they practice it on the program with each other, that then carries over to their family. What happens is that initially there is a bit of a shock because when they go home after phase one they're speaking differently and they're listening. When a veteran says to his wife, “What I hear you saying is...”, then the wife is thinking, “What...?” That comes from the program. They've tested it on some hard-core stuff with their comrades in the program, so they've already gone deep. Now they're able to say, “Okay, I've gone pretty deep here. I'm going to go back out into the real world and try it with my loved ones at home”, and they're able to do that.
It's a bit of a shock and a little bit of a shake, but what happens is that it's successful. How does it translate back to family and friends, and back into the community? They're taking the skills that they're learning in speaking and helping each other through what their sticking points are in the program and carrying that over into their home life. That makes home life better, because the family is involved as well.
One thing we're doing to enable them to speak up about this is that we're training women clinicians. When we run a program, we're running a men's program and we're running a women's program.
Initially there is a lot of push-back from women veterans. They say, “We're used to being in a male-dominated society and culture. That's the military.” We ask them to give it a chance, and when they do give it a chance, they find that because they're among women who have similar experiences, they're able to open up in a much different way.
Now, whether or not that's because of sexual assault, I can't tell you, because I'm a man and I'm not a clinician on their program. What I can say, though, is that they're very grateful for being provided an all-women clinical team and an all-women group with the veterans transition program.
Absolutely, yes. There's no script for trauma. Trauma is something that happens in the body, and there's no unit of measure that you can use. It doesn't matter if you're a combat soldier or a cook or a clerk. It doesn't matter. Trauma occurs.
With the veterans transition program, I've worked with more non-combat military members in the Atlantic because they're predominately navy and air force. However, you're also dealing with things like the Swissair crash, which has had a profound effect on non-combat military members, but nobody seems to think that, because they say, “Well, you're not in combat, so what's wrong?” There are so many things that our men and women in the military have done that people don't necessarily see, but it has a traumatic effect on them.
Yes, I do see them coming in, and they have a need, and the program works really well. It also works really well with different experiences. You can have a combat veteran and you can have somebody who's never been in combat come together because of trauma, and the shared experience is the fact they have gone through trauma and they can help each other through.
Absolutely, and I'm sure Doug can speak to this, too.
One of the things we've always tried to stay rather open about is that we know we're not a silver bullet and we know that we're not the ideal program for everyone. We're one of the many available programs that are out there. We believe that we fill a particular niche, and we do that quite well, but we recognize that not everybody is going to get as much benefit from our program as someone else might.
It's sometimes the case that we find somebody who is not engaging well with our program and chooses not to return, for whatever reason, or perhaps drugs or alcohol are a bigger factor, and we have to ask that person not to return, which, fortunately, rarely happens. We have about a 95% completion rate. When that does happen, we work with the psychologists on the program to get them linked to other services.
For those who come to us who are not with Veterans Affairs, we're often trying to refer them back and get them other services because we're aware that it's not going to work for everyone.
Does that answer the question sufficiently?
Ms. Dussault, Mr. Simard, I do not speak a lot of French, but I am learning. I learn a new word each day. Thank you for your presentation.
That's as far as I'm going to go, because if I do, then we'll never get any questions in.
What we've talked about a lot in our committee has been about dealing with family members, and in your presentation I see there's some talk about family members.
If I understand you correctly, there are not a lot of family members who are participating in your program. Is that correct?
Mr. Allen and Mr. Thorne, I appreciate your being here today. Some of us had the privilege of seeing Contact! Unload; it was a very powerful and inspiring presentation, and your support of it is tremendous. A lot of what you talk about, I think, is very evident in the presentation and in the play. As l said earlier, I think Canadians need to see that so that Canadians get a better understanding. We see the one young gentleman in the play who is suffering, and he is suffering not because he was in combat, but because he was on a radio and had to make an order for something that transpired. We see those things, and it's very powerful.
You said you're in a number of provinces, and I'm from Saskatchewan. We have veterans there too. I think this is a very powerful thing, and your treatment is impressive. Do you anticipate going to Saskatchewan in the future?
A Voice: Or are we already one of the seven?
Typically we operate in a grassroots format. We work with members talking to other members, and it seems to work the best. Most veterans and most members releasing don't trust the system—I'm sure that may come as a shock—but they do trust each other, so we try to keep that grassroots approach as much as possible.
What has to happen is that as a coordinator.... Somebody asked if the wife or the family can contact us. I have had wives contact me and say, “My husband needs your program”, and I say, “That's great; have your husband call me.” One of the things we need is for them to make that contact and for them to initiate, which tells us they're ready to do the treatment and they're ready to go through the program to get the work done.
What happens then is that we work with them. The first things I will ask are, “Are you with Veterans Affairs? Do you have a case manager? Did you open the door for discussion with your case manager? Do you have a therapist? Are you seeing a social worker or a psychologist?” I open the door for conversation. Why? It's because we're not here to do anybody else's job. What we're here to do is to help empower them in their own care plans.
When we do that, then all of a sudden we have so many people, and we bring everybody together to work on this one individual to come to success. That's how we do it. We keep it low key, and it's totally up to them. When they contact us, they're telling us they're ready to do the work, and that's key for us.
There are a couple of things.
We have what's called a calling list. When we start our program, we do a fan-out list, as you would do in a typical conventional military unit. You would have a fan-out list of everybody's name and number so that you can contact each other. We do that, and it's like the buddy system. While we're in the program, we use that call list to instill that buddy system that they had before. They call each other in the interim. They call each other just to do a check-in, and they practise their communication skills.
Those numbers don't disappear at the end of the program, and quite often the veterans stay connected for years and years afterwards, so they are well connected. We do the research, and we're always back there. Three months later or six months later or 18 months later, they get a call from us, and they say, “Oh, yes, I remember now.” It helps them to go back to say, “Yes, I remember that program. Where am I from that program, and what am I doing right now? How far have I come since that program, and how successful have I been?”
My thanks to the witnesses for joining us.
I have two questions for the people from the Maison La Vigile. I will ask them together so that the person answering can put the focus where they see fit.
The number of Veterans Affairs Canada's clients increased by 19% between 2013 and 2015. In the first part of 2016, that figure went to 29%. In Quebec, are the services available to veterans sufficient to meet the needs?
You mentioned that one of the main problems for veterans is alcohol and drug use. Do veterans also have difficulty in getting into the labour market after their military careers? How do they adapt to their new lives? Is it a widespread problem that veterans, after their careers in the military, have difficulty finding jobs and getting into the labour market? How are they adapting to their new lives?
The service that we provide is summed up in the six programs we have mentioned. The grey area is when Veterans Affairs Canada makes a request for a person who takes substances 20 times a day and poses a serious risk in terms of withdrawal. We have criteria that can exclude cases like that.
Ideally, for a person who takes substances more than 20 times, the withdrawal process should be done in hospital, but our health care system does not do prevention. It focuses mainly on healing. So people like that are not automatically hospitalized for withdrawal. The treatment period for them is longer. We cannot have them at the Maison La Vigile because their consumption is too great and there is a risk of major episodes like convulsions, delirium and even death.
At that stage, our suggestion to Veterans Affairs Canada—this is not ideal, but it is still a solution—is that the person should progressively reduce consumption for a few weeks until they reach 19 or fewer per day, after which they can be admitted to the Maison La Vigile, with a detox protocol and with specific medication to deal with the symptoms.
So that is one criterion under which a person cannot be admitted to the Maison La Vigile. Another is when there is a risk of suicide, homicide, or excessive violence, as was the case recently when a very psychologically unstable person with aggressive tendencies communicated with our organization in order to be admitted. It was impossible for us to do so.
So there is a grey area in which the Maison La Vigile cannot accept a veteran. A hospital may evaluate him but will not automatically admit him. So he leaves hospital after a few hours without really feeling better. Sometimes, people like that need closer supervision, but they end up at home very quickly, without having received the psychological assistance they need.
When people are being medically released, especially for mental health conditions, it is because they're dealing with trauma. They're already dealing with something.
They were in a profession where they were above reproach. When you are in the military, you are trained that you are better than.... You are the ones who go into the fire when everybody else is afraid. You're trained that way, and that's what you believe. Then in a split second, you're told you're disabled, so then you have to deal with the fact that you're disabled and that you are unemployed. Not only are you dealing with the trauma of being disabled, but you're also dealing with the trauma of what to do with your life. The whole entire culture is telling you to leave, and you only have this much time on the clock until it happens. You're dealing with two traumas. If you were able to deal with one trauma first and you were shown how to work with that, then when you were released, at least you'd have the skill sets and the mindset to be able to handle that transition a lot better.
I appreciate that you mentioned the navy as well, because I did spend one night on the Fredericton
learning about what they do and what they do on our behalf, and the potential. It's not like the movies. I didn't know how a ship is destroyed by a submarine. They were explaining all of this to me, and I just asked, “How do you deal with that? You're out here in the middle....” It was interesting, because there was a sudden quietness, and one of them just said, “We try not to think of that, ma'am.”
That's trauma to me already. Mentally, you're dealing with the knowledge that there's always that possibility. We need to make their transition easier from being taught to try not to think about that. That transition is really important, I think.
Thank you; that's huge.
There's one more thing. You mentioned about needing places to set up. Of course, Saskatchewan's dear to my heart. I've met veterans. I know they're veterans, but they're very quiet. They don't have that camaraderie that you're talking about in our province, because they're spread out all over the place. We're fine with travelling. We travel for everything, and we don't get mail delivered to our door. However, a place called the Thorpe Recovery Centre approached me. It's a phenomenal place. They're right on the border between Alberta and Saskatchewan. They called and said they had empty beds. They had had two veterans come to them because the Legion had paid for them to go there. They asked, “Is there not a way that our services could be used more?” I would encourage you to check them out. They're not quite as into Saskatchewan as I would like, but if we have opportunities to share those kinds of things with you, that's really positive.
Thank you for your question.
I said that, because veterans' families have no access to the services provided at the Maison La Vigile because of funding. When case managers call us, it is for a veteran, a former member of the military with veteran's status. However, families coping with stress, coping with marriage difficulties, or other difficulties being experienced by the spouse, have no access to the Maison as residents. There is nothing specific we can do for them.
I think there are external services, but internally, in our residential situation, there are none. We haven't received any requests about it.
I would like to conclude our appearance and wrap up the questions we have been asked with this comment.
Mr. Rioux briefly touched on the subject, but I would like to finish it. Those experiencing episodes of suicidal distress go to hospitals. Here's how it works in Quebec. They are seen by a doctor and, less than 12 hours later, they are sent home. They have no safety net. That is when the idea of suicide can occur again. They may then commit or attempt suicide. That is a grey area that really upsets me.
I would like people like that to have access to emergency beds. The Government of Quebec's crisis centre cannot respond to their needs because there is a problem with the culture. Police, former military, veterans and members of the military will not turn to a resource that is not familiar with their culture.
That, in a nutshell, is our problem. I hope that solutions can be found to the problems that this grey area causes.
In terms of its being complicated, there are actually two trains of thought here.
The first one is doing a study on mental health that is focused on improving transitional support, From what we've heard in committee to date, I think a lot of the mental health issues are related to that problem, but that is very different from the mental health issues related to their coming back with an injury. The second one is more related to the crisis from their experience.
So we're dealing with two different things here already. If you're going to deal with mental health issues, there are mental health issues in our armed forces that are related to moving from DND to VAC, to transitioning. That's the first part. Then you want to include developing a coordinated suicide prevention program, which is more related to dealing with a crisis that occurs because of their military experience.
It's already extremely broad. Those are almost two separate studies.