Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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Michel Doiron
View Michel Doiron Profile
Michel Doiron
2015-02-26 9:47
As often as is needed.
In the case of Sydney, in the case of all those areas, I'm presently looking at the workload in those areas: how many people? At some offices—and it's a misconception—we've had zero traffic at the Service Canada office, where we have embedded employees, since the closures of the offices. We have to be careful. At some offices we've had traffic. We are looking at making sure there is an even better presence, let's say case manager presence, in some of these locations to ensure that there is no wait for that veteran in that location. I have to say no veteran who is case-managed, or needs nursing services from us, is having to travel to one of the other locations.
View Frank Valeriote Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Frank Valeriote Profile
2015-02-26 9:49
Okay. We read recently you've cancelled the survey. I asked you about this yesterday, the one that was done in 2010, and there's a declining satisfaction with Veterans Canada. I know you're trying to change that. I'm not diminishing your efforts in any way, but in the absence of a survey I want to ask you this final question. Can you tell me your understanding of all of the complaints that veterans have been voicing—a lot of veterans, not all of them, but a lot of veterans. Goodness knows you've heard them and I've heard them. What is your response to those complaints?
Michel Doiron
View Michel Doiron Profile
Michel Doiron
2015-02-26 9:50
Those would include delays in receiving certain services. Receiving “no” as an answer is a big complaint. I want to be clear, “no” is often the right answer. We have to remember that. If there's a committee that knows it well, it's this ACVA committee, after the review and everything you've done for Veterans Affairs. I do thank you for that, because it has helped me. It has to be linked to service. When Mélanie was talking about disability benefits and people not being happy with us, it's true. However, our act is linked to services. So when I get a lot of complaints of “You said no”, well, you know....
I get complaints about timeliness; we talked about that yesterday. The OAG highlighted it in their report that we can be more timely. We've agreed with that at the department. We're working to improve that.
The wait time to see a case manager is a problem in some locations of the country. I mentioned that yesterday also. The average across the country is 1 to 34. Some case managers are managing 50 to 55 veterans.
Now, let's understand that the complexity and the intensity of that work is different. For some veterans it's one phone call a month: “How are you doing on your vocational rehab? Is everything okay?” That's an easy call. However, for a veteran who is struggling with mental illness, or an addiction, or maybe homelessness, it's not quite the same effort. That is a high-intensity effort.
We do try to balance the workload. That said, 50 is too high. We're trying to work at that.
Then there's the one that I don't hear that much about but I'm sure you hear a lot, and that's the pension issue. I hear it because I read all the clippings and everything else, but they don't come to me about that. The ones I get, because I'm the service guy, is more that it takes too long to see a case manager or that I gave a “no” decision.
Those are the two major ones I would get, to be very honest.
View Mark Eyking Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you, Chair.
It's great to be here and to see all the veterans here and to see their representatives here. It's truly an honour.
It was mentioned quite a few times that there are quite a few benefits out there that are available, but it's getting them delivered that's the key. As well, front-line staff were also mentioned.
You people are well aware of the closures, and you've mentioned the closure of these offices. Cape Breton has been closed. In Cape Breton we had 11 staff there and over 4,000 veterans were using that office.
We had two rallies down there and over 5,000 citizens showed up. It was quite emotional. At that rally one of the veterans who was organizing it stated that perhaps it was time for the Legion to stop doing all the services they're doing, which the government should be doing.
With the closures of these offices, what kind of impact is it going to have on your legions that are trying to help the veterans who come into your branches? Also, what is your comment on some of the members of these legions saying that maybe it's time they should stop trying to help these members?
Gordon Moore
View Gordon Moore Profile
Gordon Moore
2014-03-06 16:19
Mr. Chairman, I hope and pray to God that no branch of the Royal Canadian Legion across this country would ever consider that. This organization was built by veterans for veterans. I'm a former serving member myself, but I never left Canada, so I fall under 21(2) of the act.
Having stated that, let me say that we of the Royal Canadian Legion and its 1,460 branches across the country will offer our support to all veterans and their families, whether they are aged 23 years or 105 years. We make sure that our branch service officers, who are volunteers just like me, are well-trained and have the knowledge to help a veteran and the veteran's family through the process of getting to one of our provincial service officers, who are professionals.
They have the capability of going on the CSDN. Because of the act to incorporate the Legion, we have that capability. Of course, our Dominion service officers working out of Ottawa at Legion House have the same capability as well. They're working with our veterans, as I mentioned in my report earlier.
We are urging our branches now through our provincial officers to get the branches well prepared for what is going to be happening. For example, in Sydney in Cape Breton the branch more than likely.... I'm not trying to make an assumption here, but I'm stating that we're going to be asking the branches in those particular areas—Sydney, Thunder Bay, Saskatoon—to have an office there if we know for a fact that Veterans Affairs is going to have a case manager coming out to visit. For example, in Sydney they are already there to look after the case-managed clients whom they already have on board. If there are other veterans within Cape Breton who need to see someone, then we are asking them to please supply a place or an office where we can have a confidential interview and go through the process. That's the process we're going through.
View   Profile
2014-03-06 16:22
Just as an add-on, we've already seen a spike in the number of people who are coming forward looking for services. That's happening now. Our national bureau is well over its head. We have put a service officer into Valcartier from Quebec Command. He's inundated with people to serve.
The services we provide as an organization should be viewed as complementary. They should not be viewed as taking over the responsibility of the government.
View Bryan Hayes Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you.
I think the minister has done well in terms of introducing legislation that provides $75,800 for veterans to get a university or college education. I think that was outstanding.
Mr. Price, again, you made a broad statement earlier that you believe there needs to be a higher standard of service delivery. I don't want to talk about the office closures, because we can debate that. You mentioned that in context at the same time.
What I'm looking for is specific recommendations for the criteria you are seeking, because that's a pretty broad statement. To define service standards, you really have to be pretty explicit in terms of exactly what you're looking for with service standards.
I do want to throw in that if you're not prepared to answer that in detail today, that's okay. Perhaps you could put something in writing afterwards that would clearly define what higher standards of service delivery you're actually looking for specifically, because that was a pretty broad statement. But I leave it to you to make a comment.
Percy Price
View Percy Price Profile
Percy Price
2014-03-06 16:43
I hope I can understand what you mean by a “broad statement”, sir, but I think I can.
For an example, last night I received a call from a veteran in Cape Breton. He has PTSD and other pension conditions. He made a submission on November 1 for a reassessment on his attendance allowance. He got a letter yesterday, which is about three or four months later, and he calls to say, “What's the delay?”
“Well, we're overloaded. We're too busy.”
So there's something there. I've gone into the Gatineau office with a veteran and said, “What's going on here? How come he hasn't heard about this?”
“Well, sir, we're down in staff. We're overloaded. It's still in the basket."
It's been there for three months.
View John Rafferty Profile
NDP (ON)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, witnesses, for being here.
Thank you guests and veterans for being here.
I was very pleased with everything you've had to say today and the points you brought forth—in particular, support for families. I do have some questions about that, but I may not get to them.
I also have concerns about communication. We have seen some things change and you say—in particular, Mr. Moore—the government needs to review the accessibility to these programs and ensure front-line staff are available and knowledgeable to assist veterans and their families. This must not be a self-serve system.
I held some town hall meetings. Peter Stoffer was with me a few weeks ago in Thunder Bay, and of course you know an office has closed there. A woman stood up who was from one of the Legion branches in Thunder Bay and said she came because she just received a phone call from Service Canada asking her to give money to a veteran. That's one thing.
Then she went on to say that George, a Second World War veteran—an unrelated case—tried to sort his way through the website, which he couldn't. He eventually called the 800 number and he got through after some waiting. He needed help with some paperwork being filled out. He went to the Service Canada office, as the 800 number person told him to, and he got there and they simply said they don't do that there. They sent him to the Legion.
The woman from the Legion was saying they're volunteers; they do the best they can. Many Legions across the country are struggling and so they can't do it.
I just want to point out that the minister himself is acutely aware of what's happening here. In the report on plans and priorities, 2014-15, the minister says:
The primary risk being mitigated by the Department is that the modernization of VAC's service delivery model will not be achieved as expected, and will not meet the needs of Veterans, Canadian Armed Forces members, and their families.
He goes on to say:
...there is a risk that quality service delivery could be affected due to VAC’s increasing reliance on partners and service providers in the federal, provincial and municipal governments as well as private sector.
As I read this, and as I recounted the couple of cases to you, it occurs to me that in the charter it does say that veterans have a right to be treated with respect, dignity, fairness, and courtesy. I wonder if any or either of you would like to make a comment on either what I just said or where you see this heading and how the Veterans Charter is in fact being contravened, in my opinion.
Gordon Jenkins
View Gordon Jenkins Profile
Gordon Jenkins
2014-03-06 16:54
I think a common theme that we've heard this afternoon is one of communications, the breakdown of communications, and the complexity of the communications. You alluded to that, but there's a third area, and that's the regulations, the forms, the 18-page forms. DND can interpret a regulation differently from Veterans Affairs. The complexity of it, asking an 80-year-old or 90-year-old to get on the web page and find information.... I think the big challenge is how we improve—what you're getting at—communications. It's not just communications with the veteran but the veteran and his family.
Now, I was in a special duty area. I left my wife for a year and when I came back I converted to the public service. During that whole year, there was no communication with my wife whatsoever by the Canadian Forces. When I became a veteran, as Brad mentioned, the transfer over from DND to Veterans Affairs had to be the most complex, convoluted, step-by-step procedure: phone this office, fill out that form. You just wouldn't believe it.
So I guess what you're looking at, and Percy has alluded to it too, is communications with the veteran and the veteran's family. I believe the Veterans Bill of Rights states that the family has to be present anyway, so please, listen to that. Listen about the communications. It is breaking down. It's getting more complex, and when I speak to the ombudsman, he tells me that most of the complaints and most of the demands for services are already covered. Veterans just haven't been able to find them in all the regulations.
Gordon Moore
View Gordon Moore Profile
Gordon Moore
2014-03-06 16:57
Thank you. At some time I'd like to meet the lady you mentioned from Thunder Bay and thank her personally for looking after that veteran.
As I mentioned earlier, because of the office closures, and Thunder Bay was one of those offices, we're reaching out to our branches to ask them now, until such time as the government is able to come through with the staff and the right amount of money—if that will ever happen—to make sure that our veterans' needs are looked after.
This is why, as I said well over an hour ago, the Royal Canadian Legion was formed in 1926 by veterans for veterans. As an organization, as we move into the 21st century, we're getting more vocal in what we do and how we do it. We are making sure that our branches are fully aware of the issues around veterans and why they should be filling out the forms. I believe that if Veterans Affairs can't do their job, we have paid professional service officers across this country. We're going to overwork them, there's no question, and the burnout is going to be high, but we are going to be able to be there for them. But Veterans Affairs has to step to the table at some point in time and make sure that they have enough staff to look after our veterans and their families. The big key here is the families. Make sure that the families are involved in every issue with veterans.
Percy Price
View Percy Price Profile
Percy Price
2014-03-06 16:59
Thank you. At this given time, a veteran receives one letter a year. It's called QOL, quality of life, and it asks questions. Has your disability deteriorated? What's your family doing? How are they doing?
But do you know something? Those veterans never send them back, and I say that if Veterans Affairs do not hear a reply within 60 days, a red light should come on and something should be done.
You asked, sir, what will happen if VAC slackens off with the delivery service and communication with our veterans; it's going to be chaos. It's going to be disastrous, and I'm happy to hear from the Dominion president that the Legion's service officers across the country will step in and take up some of the slack. But he still expects VAC to do what they're responsible for and obligated to do for our veterans.
Thank you.
Charlotte Bastien
View Charlotte Bastien Profile
Charlotte Bastien
2013-05-07 8:50
Good morning and thank you very much.
I will make my presentation, after which Robert and I will be pleased to answer your questions.
Today's presentation will be about benefits and services that Veterans Affairs Canada provides to our veterans.
Who do we serve? We serve over 200,000 clients ranging in age from 19 to 90. These clients include war-service veterans, Canadian armed forces personnel and veterans, RCMP veterans and members, as well as survivors.
There are over 700,000 veterans in Canada, of whom at least 200,000 contact the department to ask for assistance.
You will see that the department's program expenses for veterans are
of over $3.568 billion, of which 90% flows directly to veterans.
On the next slide you will see the demographic profile, of participants which has changed over the last few years. Unfortunately, we saw the decline and attrition of Second World War veterans and Korean War veterans, as well as an increase in the number of veterans from the modern era.
The average age at release from the Canadian Forces is approximately 35 years old. The average age of Canadian Forces veterans is 58 years old.
As to the benefits and services we offer, there are disability pensions and related allowances to recognize pain and suffering resulting from service-related injuries. We have program expenditures of $1.6 billion for disability pension and allowances flowing to nearly 115,000 veterans and survivors.
We also provide war veterans with an allowance, that is financial assistance for low-income veterans of the  Second World War and Korea. Expenditures for that program total $11 million, paid to just over 4,000 recipients. Those who receive the supplementary allowances may also be eligible for other special allowances, including allowances for health care, clothing and exceptional disability.
We offer treatment benefits for all veterans, traditional and modern day. We provide a range of treatment benefits that we refer to as the 14 programs of choice, which include support for aids for daily living, ambulance services, audio services, dental services, hospital services, medical services, medical supplies, nursing services, oxygen therapy, prescription drugs, prosthetics, orthotics, related health services, special equipment, and vision care.
The department also provides support for services such as health professionals, occupational stress injury clinics, and medicare premiums.
Veterans may qualify to receive financial support for one or more treatment benefits if they are receiving a disability benefit, participating in a rehabilitation program, receiving the VIP, the veterans independence program for long-term care, the war veterans allowance, or the Canadian Forces income support.
The expenditures on treatment benefits were $538 million last year, paid to over 97,000 veterans.
On health-related travel, travel expenses incurred by a veteran when travelling to receive health care services or benefits may be reimbursed by the department. Health-related travel costs include items such as transportation, parking, meals, lodging, out-of-province travel, and when required, an escort, meaning someone to accompany the veteran if he is travelling to receive treatment.
Recent changes to the program mean that veterans do not need to submit receipts with their travel claims unless we ask for them. A veteran must still obtain receipts or appointment verifications and retain the original receipts for one year in case they are requested. We have simplified the process for the reimbursement of health-related travel for veterans.
The veterans independence program, or VIP, has been referred to as the gold standard of home care programs. It is designed to assist veterans and survivors in maintaining their independence through the provision of home and community care, and includes services such as personal care, housekeeping, ground maintenance, ambulatory services, transportation services, home adaptation, and nursing home care.
In budget 2012, one of the specific measures announced included replacing the existing contribution agreement for the housekeeping and ground maintenance component of the VIP with an annual grant, which began in January 2013. Recipients of these services no longer need to obtain, track, and submit the receipts and wait to be reimbursed. This makes it faster and easier for them to get the support they need when they need it. The initiative is cutting red tape by reducing millions of transactions each year for more than 100,000 veterans, caregivers, and survivors who receive assistance for services such as mowing the lawn, removing snow, or cleaning the house.
With the new program, as I explained, instead of sending receipts in on a monthly or regular basis, veterans now receive up front twice a year two installments of the financial arrangement that they require for their groundskeeping and housekeeping.
With respect to the long-term care program, veterans are supported in three long-term care settings: in community beds in facilities that provide nursing home care to veterans and other provincial residents; in contract beds in facilities with beds designated through contractual arrangements for priority access for veterans; and in departmental beds such as Ste. Anne's hospital, which is the only federally owned facility. The eligibility differs and depends on the type of military service, income, and whether the need for long-term care is due to a service-related disability.
Most war veterans are eligible for care in a contract or community bed, or at Ste. Anne's hospital. Their care does not need to be related to a service-related disability. They may be eligible if they served overseas during the war, or if they are in receipt of a disability pension, or are low-income war veterans.
Canadian Forces veterans are eligible for support in a community bed if the need for long-term care is due to an illness or injury directly related to their military service. The department is financially supporting over 8,700 veterans in 1,750 nursing homes and other long-term care facilities across Canada.
In 2006, Veterans Affairs Canada introduced the New Veterans Charter, which provides financial security to veterans who are unsuitable for civil employment and provides programs to help injured veterans live a healthier, richer and more independent life following their military service. The new charter includes the following elements: the Disability Payments Program; the Rehabilitation Program; the Allowance for Temporary Earnings Loss Program, now prolonged and improved; career transition services; the Permanent Impairment Allowance and its supplements; the Income Support Allowance for Canadian Forces, and Supplementary Retirement Benefits.
As of December 2012, over 40,000 veterans and families have had access to various programs or elements of the New Veterans Charter. Disability payments make up the largest of programs resulting from the New Veterans Charter. The program aims at recognizing and compensating the economic effects of disability or death that are service-related, by providing lump sum payments. In 2011-2012, that program made up 82% of expenditures related to the new charter. That represented $360 million in program expenditures under the new charter, out of a total $440 million.
Improvements were made to the new charter in 2011, in order to correct unexpected gaps in the areas of financial and other assistance. These improvements guarantee that veterans that are registered in the rehabilitation program have a minimum income of $40,000 per year. These improvements also increase seriously injured veterans' annual minimum income. That amount has increased to $58,000 per year. The eligibility criteria for monthly supplementary allowances have been made more flexible, creating a new monthly supplement. Such improvements also allow for new payment methods for the disability payments received by veterans, which was previously called the lump sum. Those improved payments total over $2 billion per year during the lifetime of the program and ensure that vulnerable and seriously injured veterans receive the financial assistance and support they require, at the right time, for as long as necessary.
With respect to mental health services, Veterans Affairs has a wide range of services and benefits for veterans, Canadian armed forces personnel, RCMP members, and the families of those living with a mental health condition. We have the operational stress injury clinics, the Canadian armed forces operational and trauma stress support centres, the chronic pain management clinics, specialized community in-patient treatment, community mental health services providers, clinical care managers, the operational stress injuries social support program, and a 24-hour toll-free VAC assistance service. We also have a number of partnerships to enhance capacity to assist veterans.
I remind you that the Veterans Affairs Canada OSI clinic locations are Fredericton, New Brunswick; Loretteville, Quebec; and Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec. We also have the residential treatment clinics for operational stress injuries in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec; Ottawa, Ontario; London, Ontario; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Edmonton, Alberta; Calgary, Alberta; and Vancouver, British Columbia.
The veterans transition program works with the University of British Columbia to provide support for veterans during the transition.
I mentioned that we have a network of community mental health service providers. We have over 4,000 providers in the community. We also have the chronic pain management clinic that is available for veterans.
Our core business at the department is case management. We have a number of case managers throughout the country located in various offices to provide case management services for any veterans and their families who would require such services. They are there for veterans and their families who have complex needs, especially those with serious injuries or illnesses. As of December 2012, we had approximately 7,200 case-managed veterans across the country. The core case management functions, in case you are wondering, include engagement, assessment, analysis of the need, case planning, consultation, monitoring, and evaluation.
We also provide transition services. These services are offered to members who are about to be released from the Canadian Forces. We provide a transition interview to determine whether needs associated with the person's release could hinder their transition to civilian life. In the case of members about to be released and their families, we work in collaboration with Canadian armed forces personnel.
Between April 1 and December 31, 2012, Veterans Affairs Canada conducted 3,179 transition interviews. We have also created additional programs and partner with groups to facilitate a veteran's transition into civilian life. Some examples are the Helmets to Hardhats program,
which is Helmets to Hardhats,
the Hire a Veteran program, which was implemented in December 2012, and the Prince of Wales' Operation Entrepreneur.
This is the Prince's Charities organization, which provides support to veterans seeking self-employment, who wish to start up their own business. It's a potential source of funding. There is also coaching and training to set up their own business.
We also offer levels of appeal for a veteran who is not satisfied with a decision by the department regarding his disability. The next charts describe the various levels and a mechanism that's available for a veteran to appeal his or her decision.
Regarding points of service, Veterans Affairs Canada has approximately 1,800 people spread among more than 60 locations across the country, in addition to the head office in Charlottetown. We have a network of interdisciplinary client service teams at area offices across the country. We also have more than 100 staff who work on bases, what we call integrated personnel support centres, located on or near the 24 Canadian Forces bases and wings. Veterans and families can also reach us through the toll-free line in both English and French, through the My VAC Account, and also through our website. The users of My VAC Account can update their address, phone, e-mail, and direct-deposit information. They can fill out and submit a disability benefit application. They can track the status of the disability benefit application. They can also fill out and submit a request for reimbursement for health-related travel. They can track their documentation. They can also view their Veterans Affairs Canada benefit, and they can communicate securely with the department.
Looking forward now, we continue to modernize our service delivery in order to cut red tape when it comes to accessing our programs and services. Our focus is on improved, faster and more efficient service to our veterans and their families. We continue to reduce complexity of access to our programs and services by offering more one-stop services, as well as more online options to access information and services. We have also improved our wait times in terms of processing applications for benefits and services. We continue to establish and maintain strong partnerships with DND, the Canadian Forces and other stakeholders to provide and improve service delivery to veterans.
With respect to other points of service and where to get assistance, in addition to Veterans Affairs area office staff, there are other organizations and partners that are ready and willing to help veterans and their families to apply for VAC benefits at no cost.
The Bureau of Pensions Advocates will represent, free of charge, any veteran who would like to appeal a pension or a disability decision with the tribunal. They are available at a number of locations throughout Canada. They also have a toll-free line where they can be reached.
We also have local veterans organizations, such as the Royal Canadian Legion, that offer services at their various branches. We provide training for the service officers on how to fill out applications and assist veterans in applying for benefits and services.
We also have a partnership with Service Canada, which offers assistance with accessing our services and programs throughout their 600 points of service across the country.
There is another part of the mandate of Veterans Affairs Canada. Not only does it provide services and benefits for veterans, but it also includes commemorating the contributions and sacrifices of our veterans.
The Canada remembers program endeavours to keep alive the achievements and sacrifices made by those who served Canada in times of war, military conflict, and peace, and to promote an understanding of the significance of those efforts in Canadian life as we know it today. We also have the maintenance of the government's memorials and cemetery program. We have the community engagement partnership fund. So far we have 128 projects approved with a total funding of more than $1 million. In addition, we have the cenotaph and monument restoration program, through which we have approved 55 projects for a total of $409,000. We have the community war memorial program, where we have approved 16 projects for a total of almost $573,000.
The recent budget announced $65 million over two years to enhance the funeral and burial program. The plan for this investment is to simplify the program for veterans' estates. As well, it has more than doubled the funeral service reimbursement rate, from $3,600 to $7,376.
We also support national and international ceremonies and events for commemoration. We also develop material for the promotion of learning opportunities, educational material, and public information regarding commemoration.
Regarding the outcomes of some of the programs, Canadians' attitudes toward veterans remain strongly positive. Virtually 91% believe that Canada's veterans should be recognized for their service to Canada. There is also widespread acknowledgement that Canada's veterans have made major contributions to the development of our country. A large majority of Canadians, 84%, consider Veterans' Week to be important, with 64% saying that they consider it to be very important. Approximately 76% of Canadians said they participated in Veterans' Week in 2012. This rate of participation is slightly higher than the rate in 2011, which was 73%.
We also have the wreaths for parliamentarians program, which provides wreaths to parliamentarians who represent the Government of Canada by laying commemorative wreaths during Remembrance Day ceremonies in their constituencies. The wreaths can be ordered from September to November by calling a 1-800 number.
We also make 10 Canadian flags available to members of Parliament for the sole purpose of providing a flag to families of veterans who have passed away. The flags can be ordered by contacting Canadian Heritage.
As I mentioned earlier, the commemorative wreaths program is also available to parliamentarians. Please do not hesitate to make use of it. Wreaths can be ordered from September to November. All you have to do is contact the Department of Veterans Affairs at the toll free number on the screen.
That concludes my presentation. We would be pleased to answer any questions.
View Peter Stoffer Profile
NDP (NS)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Bastien and Mr. Cormier, thank you very much for coming today.
In your first statement, you indicated that those who communicate with the department may be eligible for benefits if they qualify. You indicated that 211,000 people are now receiving benefits from the department in one way or the other. However, there are well over 700,000 military and RCMP veterans out there. That means almost three-quarters of the veteran population are not being assisted by VAC.
In your comments you mentioned those who communicate with the department. Shouldn't that be turned around? This is the first question of several that I'll ask right away. Shouldn't the department be communicating with them, reaching out to them and saying, “If you're a veteran, contact us”? Anywhere from 5,000 to 8,000 people, if not more, leave the armed forces and the RCMP on a regular basis every year. Shouldn't the department immediately, from the minute they leave, be tracking them and calling them periodically just to find out how they're doing? They become veterans, although maybe not VAC clients. You're putting the onus on the veteran to contact the department. Personally, I think it should be the other way around. That's the first question.
Second, on page 9 you talk about how most eligible veterans receive $40,000 a year. First of all, how many veterans actually receive that earnings loss benefit? What is the complete total? What happens after age 65?
Third, you talked about the Helmets to Hardhats program and how private companies are now stepping up and hiring veterans, which is a very good thing. How many veterans are hired by the public service? One of the things in the Veterans Charter was that they would get priority in public service hiring. How many departments in the Government of Canada have hired veterans? Maybe not now, but if you get a chance later on, if you could break down which department has hired how many veterans and where they are, that would be most helpful.
Last, I understand the government announced yesterday a new app for iPhones and cellphones, which is a very good thing for those people who can adapt and use those kinds of communication tools. At the same time, the government is closing eight district offices across the country. My experience is that for people with very complex needs and very diverse needs, an app is not going to cut it. What they need is that physical one-on-one opportunity to speak to a warm body, to speak to someone in person who is able to assist them in their needs so they can get the comfort and the assurance they require in order to achieve some sort of normalcy in their lives and to be able to move forward.
Those are my comments for you right now. I do thank you both very much for coming.
By the way, with respect to the Korean War commemorations, the folks who organized that did a great job. My compliments to them.
Charlotte Bastien
View Charlotte Bastien Profile
Charlotte Bastien
2013-05-07 9:19
I'll pass the message on. Thank you.
Just to make sure I don't forget, there are four points.
For the first one, not everybody who serves their country in uniform in the Canadian Forces necessarily needs assistance or encounters obstacles in their integration into civilian life. As you know, we do offer a transition interview for all individuals when they're released from the Canadian Forces. We've been doing that for a number of years now. The goal is to identify any obstacles to their reintegration into civilian life. When they're leaving the uniform, at the time of release, we are proactive in communicating with them to establish whether they need something from us.
We have done a lot of outreach. We do go out in the community and if any organization comes across a veteran who might be in need of assistance, they refer them to us. We are proactive in our outreach. Again we can't assume that people who have served our country necessarily are in need. That's not the case.
Regarding the second point, could you remind me what it was?
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