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Results: 1 - 60 of 65
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Thanks.
I joke with people that I don't have a constituency office, but an immigration law practice in Vancouver.
Another source of frustration for my constituents is that there's never anybody whom the applicant or the sponsor can talk to. It's very anonymous. You just get a case number. If someone has a pending application in Australia, is there anybody whom an applicant or a sponsor can actually talk to within your immigration structure to find out about the status of the case, or to discuss where it's at?
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2016-12-13 16:22
Okay. Thank you.
The next question is to both of you.
I'm interested in language at the call centre. When I talk about language, it's not just the different languages and the availability of people to respond, which I don't think we have. I see this with my own mother. She's been here for almost 40 years. Her English is excellent, but she won't understand what someone has said to her.
As quickly as you can, I would love to get your thoughts on your experience with the call centre and the level of how we respond to the questions and the information that we receive, because there are different levels of English.
I'll start with you, Ms. Rico.
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
To both of the witnesses, I expect that one of the themes we're going to hear over and over again in the testimony in this study is that we need more resources, but the people who have offered that so far have not been particularly specific in that. I'm just wondering if you feel that is the issue. If so, what does “resources” mean, and is there any pedantry in the process that could be eliminated to provide better access or better efficiency with the resources that we already have in place? That's question number one.
Question number two, Mr. Nurse, is about your comment around the process being very faceless. I would agree with you, given that when people contact my office, it's because they feel as though they haven't reached a human being. When you made that comment, I was wondering, in the context of what I just asked in terms of resources and process, how can we humanize the process? Are there key choke points with service delivery where that could be fixed?
I can let you go first. Go ahead.
View Bob Saroya Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you so much, Mr. Chair.
Both of you were here in the last hour as well. If you listened to the whole thing, you know it's a human factor. People, clients, come to the MP's office because we treat them as humans, we sympathize with them, we listen to them, and we act and react.
Do you think we have a disconnect at the call centre? The clients would look like something like this, for example, while the management and the call centre people may be different. They don't understand that side of the equation. What can be done to take some of the burden away from the MP's office?
View Bob Saroya Profile
CPC (ON)
With regard to the cost analysis, the IRCC spends huge money out there.
If both of you were the immigration minister for the day, the week, or the month, what changes would you bring to the table for call centres or.... You understand things from both sides.
What would you do, David? Let's start with you.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-08 15:54
Mr. Chair, I think it would be very useful and helpful for the information they have with respect to complaints to be passed on to the committee. Then we can actually go through the details of it, as opposed to going through it bit by bit at committee within my seven minutes. It would be helpful if we could get a confirmation that we could receive that information.
With respect to complaints, I have one issue that my office often gets. People phone the call centre and cannot get informative information. It's an ongoing cycle of not getting information, and the level of frustration is beyond measure. I've tried it myself. You phone the hotline, and the information you get is so generalized that it is hopeless and, frankly, useless.
I then phone the minister's office. I've experienced this myself. I get the information from the minister's office and it's contradictory to what the government had announced within the time frame that the application would be processed, for example. I'm sort of left standing there and thinking, who do I believe? I don't know what is the real information anymore, and I hardly know what to tell my constituents. No wonder they're so frustrated.
How can we improve on this? How is it that people phone the hotline and get such general information that it's basically rendered useless?
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
Going back to my colleague Jacques Gourde's line of questioning, just so you know, for all of us around the table here it is an enormous amount of work in our constituency offices to deal with immigration casework. Again, just to re-emphasize what some of my Liberal colleagues have said, this is a non-partisan thing. We have very small operating budgets, and I also will say that I have a full-time employee in my office who deals just with client service delivery issues.
I'll preface this by saying that the decision made earlier this year to take away MP access from embassies, as well as the ministerial advisory office, was very poor. It was a terrible decision. It really affected service delivery within our office. I'm glad to see that it has been semi-reversed.
I'm not sure what some of my colleagues would say, but certainly for me and my office, one of the biggest complaints we get from people is the reporting of failures in customer service by the call centre in Montreal. I would say that's probably, by an order of magnitude, the number one complaint that I get. People experience very long wait times on the phone, as well as very onerous automated call menus, especially for people whose English or French is their second language. The number one thing I have to respond to in my office is that they don't understand the information that was given to them or that it's confusing, or the charge is that it's unhelpful.
Do you track the call centre usage at all? We are going to write up a report here. Is there anything that you think could be done to overcome this? It's such a burden on our offices right now.
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
What would be.... I'm sorry. Go ahead. I was just going to say in terms of attitude, what are the critical success factors in performance evaluation that you use for a front-line call centre worker in Montreal? What are they tasked with managing? What would their supervisor be looking at in terms of an employment review framework or a performance review framework?
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
Would you be willing to table with the committee information on what the key critical success factors or performance review metrics would be for front-line call centre workers in terms of documentation?
To me, it seems a little off that quantity would be what their performance evaluation would be.
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay. Would you be willing to table that information with the committee in a written format?
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
Do you have a proactive quality assurance process for that, or is it just reactive?
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
Great.
One of the complaints that I get in my office is that when people phone the call centre, it seems that the algorithm the agents are driving to is to get an email address so that template information can be provided. Where my office gets burdened with it is: “They didn't answer my question; they just provided me with a template.”
Can you tell us a bit more on why that process is there as part of your service delivery algorithm?
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
I guess I'll just close with this, and it's more of something to explore with my colleagues around the table. I think it would be really useful. I've been doing this for five years now. We want to be your allies, and we want you to be our allies because immigration processing works when we're all giving the same information and messaging and it's arm's-length and it's not politicized. I think there's often a disconnect in terms of what MP office staff, especially new MP office staff, understand as your service delivery algorithms, and there's really no feedback in terms of saying, “Hey, this isn't working”, because what we're getting are the complaints all the time.
I would just suggest that if the department, as part of this survey, would be willing to provide greater information on where your algorithms are right now, we could provide feedback as well in terms of where we see the friction points on that, and then hopefully have some sort of continuous feedback mechanisms with MP office staff as well, too.
I think that, for me, would have been the first step, before changing the call centre process, because at the end of the day, we want to be on the same team here. I'm not sure if there's been any thought given to that sort of thing, but certainly I would offer this up in the time I have, and as a QA process as well.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-08 16:46
If training is the issue, then I would get on to that forthwith, because we do often get information and complaints back at our office about people not being able to get information. There have been times in our own office when we have phoned in and have experienced delays as well, or they haven't provided us the information and we have had to phone back and they've said that they'll get back to us, and on and on it has gone.
Imagine what that would be like if someone phoned in and the information was right there and because of your digital system you could actually tell them that they were not required to contact us again to provide that information, to add that extra step. Often when they provide us the information, there's something else missing and then we have to phone back to get the information, and on and on the cycle goes. If they could get that information forthwith right on the first call, it would make life so much easier for everybody. If training is the issue, I would really urge you to make that your first priority, to get everybody up to speed to make sure they provide that information accordingly.
I also want to ask about quality control. Every phone call is recorded, so how do you do the quality control? How often do you do it, so that you can sort of figure out where the situation is going awry?
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2016-12-08 16:52
You mentioned that some significant changes have been made in the Montreal call centre, that you have given more latitude to the front-line workers, that there's been a change in attitude, and that there's better morale. I just want to acknowledge that, and I want to say thank you. I think we're all anxious to make sure that works well.
That said, I know you've gone out and done the human-centred design feedback loop. Have you actually gone to the front-line workers, taken groups of them, and asked them, for instance, “How is it that you can help? What are your thoughts?” I know that when I'm not happy at a customer service thing, I'm yelling, pretty much, and I don't like that, but they must get it all the time. What feedback have they given, and how have you integrated that into improvements?
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
2016-12-08 16:58
Thank you.
If we could go to back to what I would say is the favourite topic today, the hotline, as I understand in the previous exchange.
First of all, when was that hotline set up? What year was it?
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
2016-12-08 16:59
If I'm not mistaken, you've heard from everyone here that the hotline is very frustrating. It appears, truthfully, that the people who are operating it really see no need to actually assist and to make things more simple for us. I think you were talking about how the department did actually attempt to fix things several years ago, but there were challenges. Is that correct?
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
2016-12-08 16:59
For the call centre, the department itself wanted to make improvements—
Robert Orr
View Robert Orr Profile
Robert Orr
2016-12-08 16:59
We're consistently making changes. A few years ago, I guess one of the decisions was so that we could focus on the complex cases, we made a decision that we were not going to...if the case was still within service standards within processing times—
View Colin Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Colin Fraser Profile
2016-10-18 16:29
Thank you very much, Mr. Gannon.
Mr. Mac Culloch, with regard to what you said, we heard previous testimony that it might be a good idea to look at a concierge service, basically one point of reference for a veteran dealing with VAC, a person they can contact directly or have consistent contact with. Would you agree with that approach?
View Bob Bratina Profile
Lib. (ON)
With regard to a concierge, we have veterans scattered all over the country. Could there be a virtual concierge service, or would certain particular centres across the country be where that service would be available?
View Bob Bratina Profile
Lib. (ON)
One of the possible investments could be the apparatus in various remote locations to allow for the interaction to take place.
View Bob Bratina Profile
Lib. (ON)
How do you get input from veterans? Obviously, you do. Are you in regular contact with veterans, and how do they get in touch with you?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Your document points out that veterans’ family members do not necessarily have easy access to the department’s case managers. This committee has, on several occasions, come across that problem of family members’ lack of access to case managers. Does that complaint come up often?
View Colin Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Colin Fraser Profile
2016-09-29 16:33
My other question is, what follow-up is done after somebody has gone through the programming and received the services you offer? What follow-up is there to make sure they're doing well and to make sure the good work you're doing is being reflected in the research?
View Alaina Lockhart Profile
Lib. (NB)
One of the things we've talked about is the personal touch versus brown envelopes. In your opinion, would that be helpful?
View Irene Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
We've been talking about family as client and family as advocate. I wonder if you have any insights or advice with regard to veterans who don't have that family network. How are they supported? Is there something that VAC should be doing in terms of making absolutely sure that this lone veteran is supported?
View Irene Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
Thank you. I think that's an important recommendation, and it leads me to ask what other recommendations you would make. We're writing a report. What would be your top recommendation?
View Doug Eyolfson Profile
Lib. (MB)
All right. Thank you.
There was a study done at the University of Western Ontario that referred to how the transition from military life to unstructured life was a very vulnerable period. We may have touched on this. I'm assuming that if you intervened at this point, from the Veterans Affairs point, you might help to minimize the number of people becoming homeless, or decrease the chance that they would become homeless.
What would be the biggest impact that Veterans Affairs could have? What's the biggest thing they could do to help during this vulnerable transition period?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Ms. Lowther, when you said that policy proposals are above your pay grade, it's not true. Policy proposal belongs to all Canadians, so if you have some, there's an email and there's a clerk here.
Colonel Mann, I will have to move along very quickly, unfortunately.
Even if the culture of denial at Veterans Affairs is a myth, it seems that the trust has been broken.
Do you think the members of our committee are influenced by the people they meet who are in complex situations, people who are in a state of panic or crisis? Do you think the vast majority of veterans believe in that myth?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Hello. Thank you for being here with us this evening.
Yesterday evening, when we were in Toronto—yes, that's right; we have moved around so much that I nearly forgot where we were last night—, the veterans we met mentioned some of the department's practices that they consider disgusting.
Are you aware of the department's good and not so good practices in its daily dealings with veterans?
View Alaina Lockhart Profile
Lib. (NB)
Both of you bring really interesting perspectives, and I hope we get to touch on both as we continue.
Mr. Callaghan, I would like to thank you for your service to begin with, and also for articulating so easily all of the things that we have been talking about over the last little bit.
If I had check boxes, you kind of hit a lot of them when we're talking about service delivery, paperwork being one. With regard to receiving a letter, for instance, when there's a change in your benefits, or notification that you're not going to receive benefits, do you think it would be helpful if you had one-on-one contact with a case manager or what have you, to walk you through this process, rather than receiving documentation in the mail?
View Alaina Lockhart Profile
Lib. (NB)
So for you this could have gone much better had you been able to meet with your case manager either by phone or personally, to walk through what the decision was and to talk about what future benefits you were eligible for. Is that fair to say?
View Alaina Lockhart Profile
Lib. (NB)
Maybe we could fix that. Not knowing creates a tremendous amount of anxiety as well. I can appreciate that.
View Irene Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
Is your third case manager someone you still interact with?
View Irene Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
As part of a case manager's duties, would the protocol be that you must indicate and be able to show that you have contacted each of your clients on a regular, monthly or bi-monthly, basis?
View Neil Ellis Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Neil Ellis Profile
2016-06-13 19:39
There's a second part to this question: were you at one time allowed to email or contact your caseworker directly? Has it always been the case that you've gone to the 1-800 number, or has that just shifted in the last...?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you for joining us this morning. It is an honour to have you with us here at the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. All the more so because, if I am not mistaken, this is the first time that we have with us both Canadian Armed Forces personnel and a number of representatives from Veterans Affairs Canada.
We have so many questions to ask you that it is difficult to decide where to start. I would specifically like to talk to Ms. Douglas, Ms. Pellerin, and Mr. Cormier.
I am sure you are aware that a number of veterans have come here in recent months; they have had many complaints about the programs and services provided by your department. They have mentioned benefits, red tape and other problems.
Transition interviews have been held for two years. I myself was released from the Canadian Armed Forces a few months ago, and I had my transition interview by telephone the day before yesterday. It was a very interesting experience. I found it was very well done.
I have noticed that most veterans who have come to tell us about their concerns and their complaints about the treatment they have received were released more than two years ago.
Can you share with us your data, if you have any, about veterans who have been released in the last two years and who have gone through transition interviews? Have the interviews made a difference? Have they improved the situation for veterans?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
I am sorry to interrupt you. I understand the end goal of the transition interview, but I'll be more specific. Have you been receiving fewer complaints since you have been doing these kinds of transition interviews? We want to know if this transition interview is actually stopping a lot of the problems.
View Neil Ellis Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Neil Ellis Profile
2016-06-09 11:30
I have a follow-up question to Anne-Marie.
You gave us some numbers, 280 and 60. How do you attempt to find veterans? I know myself that if I don't want to be found, you're not going to find me. Do you keep calling? If you're concerned, do you actually send somebody out and knock on the veteran's door and say, “We're here”?
View Neil Ellis Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Neil Ellis Profile
2016-06-09 11:31
If that goes unanswered, do you still look?
View Neil Ellis Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Neil Ellis Profile
2016-06-09 11:31
Quickly, do you have a percentage of veterans whom you just can't find once they leave?
View Neil Ellis Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Neil Ellis Profile
2016-06-09 11:32
If you have that information, would you be able to send it to the committee, to the clerk?
View Doug Eyolfson Profile
Lib. (MB)
Thank you.
There are a lot of veterans at their level who are reluctant to ask for help with mental health and PTSD, for much the same reasons. It's the stigma and this sort of thing.
Can you think of ways to improve the situation with veterans to help them to ask for help?
View Sherry Romanado Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you.
First, I would like to thank you for your contribution to our country. Thank you also for being here today.
We've just heard that 10,000 regular and reserve members transition out of the Canadian Armed Forces every year.
My question is for you, Madam Douglas. What percentage of them have a transition interview?
View Sherry Romanado Profile
Lib. (QC)
How soon after the decision to leave, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, does this transition interview happen?
View Sherry Romanado Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you.
Okay. Fifty per cent of releasing members do not have a transition interview, so they do not necessarily know what services are available to them, and you do not know if they're going to need help. It's a reactive approach rather than a proactive approach for half of the transitioning members, if I understand it correctly.
Now I'm going to switch gears, General. We talked a bit about universality of service and mental health. You mentioned that our CDS is very much dedicated to making sure that the issue of mental health in the military is not hidden and that folks do seek out support. I know for a fact that's not happening, because my son just lost two classmates, and they hadn't even seen service. There is still that stigma and there is still that fear of coming forward to say, “I need help now.”
I know that when folks join the Canadian Armed Forces, there are actual medical, physical, and mental requirements to be able to join. We're talking about the few who would probably not have mental illness who are actually being selected, yet we still have a lot of suicides.
I'm concerned that it is not getting down to the ranks, right down to the students who are studying at our military colleges, that they can seek help. I'd like to know what concrete measures are happening—rather than Bell's Let's Talk initiative or twice-a-year conversations—so that our students are not suffering in silence and our active members are not suffering in silence. Could you could elaborate on that, please?
View Irene Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
Thank you very much.
I have two questions. First, and this is to VAC, do case managers have the authority to inform veterans of possible services and benefits that they may qualify for, even if the veteran hasn't put in an application? Is there a policy for case managers to review veterans' files and look for additional benefits if those have been overlooked?
View Alaina Lockhart Profile
Lib. (NB)
What about resources for guiding soldiers and veterans through this process? Are the resources there for them to get the personal touch as they try to work through this process, or are they on their own?
View Alaina Lockhart Profile
Lib. (NB)
Then if they are assigned a case manager, let's say, or a pod of people earlier when they're a soldier, that team would carry on with them to kind of bridge that. Is that what you're suggesting?
View Doug Eyolfson Profile
Lib. (MB)
Thank you.
Thank you for coming, and thank you for the work you're doing. It's quite valuable and it's appreciated.
You were talking about case managers and how there's a different case manager at every step of the process. Would it be beneficial if they were assigned a case manager while in service, once you determined that termination of service was imminent, and they just retained that same case manager throughout the process and while they were in Veterans Affairs? Is there a model you can envision where that would be the case?
View Alaina Lockhart Profile
Lib. (NB)
Oh, good.
Just going back a little, I am a bit surprised about your comments on how people were pleased with the opportunity to tell their story. Some of the feedback we have heard from veterans at committee is that they are very frustrated that they have to tell their story over and over and over again, especially those who are suffering from PTSD. What is the reasoning on that? Why are they happy to be telling their story now, at this point in the whole process? It seems a little contrary to some of the other testimony we have received.
View Alaina Lockhart Profile
Lib. (NB)
I think that is all very good information for the service review, especially the aspect of the personal touch. We are talking about ways we can improve the whole process, and it has come out time and time again that personal touch is important.
View Alaina Lockhart Profile
Lib. (NB)
Thank you. This is one of the things I've been thinking about. We've talked about additional caseworkers, and you brought up veterans service agents and the training they're receiving. Do you have any suggestions on how those two groups could work together to provide better service, and maybe assist with some of this paperwork?
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and gentlemen, thank you for your service and for being with us here today.
Ms. Lockhart must have been looking at my notes or hearing the same things I was hearing, because she asked basically the same questions I wanted to ask. I'm going to try and ask them, but maybe in a different way. I'll rephrase them a bit.
A lot of what we've heard throughout the last couple of weeks has dealt with caseworkers and paperwork and whether the caseworkers are educated and trained. I'm glad to hear today from you, Mr. Thibeau, that they should be trained and should understand aboriginal awareness and be aware of that part. I think that's an important matter.
I understand, and I'm led to believe, Mr. Thibeau and Mr. Leonardo, that you attended the veteran stakeholders' meeting this past week in Ottawa. None of us was there, and I'm wondering whether you might be able to enlighten us a bit on whether the minister or deputy minister indicated whether there would be any training or further instances of training, or set any dates for opening the offices. Can you comment on any of that?
View Sherry Romanado Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Dana, Kimberly, and Matthew, to you and your family members.
Dana, you have served, and I want to thank you for your service and that of your family members and your friends. I know it may sound like empty words, especially when you have come back here three times to present yourself, but as a parent of two sons currently serving, I can guarantee you they are heartfelt. Everyone on this committee has been listening to the witnesses' testimony over the course of this study, and I can guarantee you we don't come out of this the same. It is genuine.
I would like to talk a little bit.... Michael Blais, you mentioned a lack of proactive approach to the treatment of our veterans, and I think you touched on an incredibly important aspect. What we have been hearing is that it is a very reactive approach. We wait for the veteran to come to us and say, “I need help.” We wait for the veteran to fill out the forms. We wait for the veteran to prove the injury. We wait for it.
I would like your suggestions. What would you recommend in terms of flipping that on its head and having a proactive approach to the care for our veterans and their families? We are seeing that we may have an x number of veterans, but when you calculate the families that are supporting them, we have a lot more veterans, in my view.
View Colin Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Colin Fraser Profile
2016-05-12 12:22
Thank you all very much for attending today and sharing your experiences with us to help us gain insight as a committee so that we can make proper recommendations. I want you to know that we are listening and we very much appreciate your appearance and the work you have been doing.
I'd like first to ask a question of Mr. Blais. I appreciate your comments, especially with regard to the importance of case managers being proactive, such that it is not the obligation of the veteran to seek out what he or she might be able to find out but rather the obligation of Veterans Affairs Canada to ensure that they are made aware and are given every opportunity to take advantage of the services to which they are certainly entitled.
It's not just about case managers. Certainly increasing the number of case managers, as you say, and dropping the ratio to 25:1, as the current government has done, will be important, but what will be really important is ensuring that the level of service goes up commensurate with those extra case workers.
You talked about the possibility of extra training for case managers. I wonder if you could expand on that to help us understand what kind of training you're thinking about. There are probably opportunities for case managers to refer a veteran to some expert, but maybe that should be kept with the case manager so they can build a relationship of trust with the veteran. I wonder if you could expand on what kind of training you're thinking about.
View Irene Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
When we send our young men and women into combat to Afghanistan or into peacekeeping, there's a great sense of the country doing something quite remarkable, but then when they come back broken, that's a human tragedy.
Were those responsible for looking after military personnel unprepared? Did they underestimate what it would mean to try to put back these lives and these families...?
View Colin Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Colin Fraser Profile
2016-05-10 12:17
Okay.
Do you see a change in how many case managers there are? Would that help in order to actually have them coming and meeting you face to face?
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