Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
The only problem is that the common force of veterans is weakened as a result of the fact there are so many groups going their own way, but that's the reality.
You talk about denial by design. I would like you to maybe talk about that a little bit.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Why are those six types of benefits denied most often by the department? Is it because it is difficult to prove the injury? How do you explain the fact that those are the types of challenges that keep coming back before your board?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
We talk about the fact that the veterans affairs ministry should be responsible to communicate more of its programs and everything. I've been asking this question of the witnesses at each committee. In the United States, the burden of proof lies with the ministry and not the veterans. What do you people have to say about that? Should we do the same thing here, and would it probably work out a lot of the problems?
Monsieur Beaudin.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Gentlemen, thank you for being here with us today. We appreciate it very much.
My first question will be addressed to the representatives of the Royal Canadian Legion and to those of the Equitas group.
I think we can agree that there is a big issue with regard to information-sharing between the Department of National Defence and Veterans Affairs. It is very unfortunate for veterans who must face this difficulty alone when they have to prove that their physical or mental injuries are due to their military service.
I have often asked this question in committee and I would like to put it to you as well. I was told on several occasions that in the United States the veteran's burden of proof, that is to say having to prove that the injuries are service-related, rests with the department responsible for veterans. And so there, it is the department of veterans affairs that has to determine whether the veteran's injuries are service-related or not. If we functioned like that in Canada as well, am I correct in thinking that the veteran would not have to work to transmit the information, but the department, with all the means at its disposal, would work to go and get that information?
I yield the floor to you.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Auditor General, Ms. Campbell and Mr. Martire, welcome to the committee. I am happy to see you here today.
I will preface my first question.
I would like to come back to what my colleague Mr. Eyolfson said earlier. He felt that it was taken for granted that those who were submitting applications were faking, as they had to provide records to support their application if they wanted to receive specific services or benefits from Veterans Affairs Canada.
Mr. Auditor General, military members are under extreme pressure every day. It's an environment where people have to constantly prove themselves to their peers and their superiors. In a way, that's completely normal, as the government asks the Canadian Armed Forces to carry out missions despite sometimes insufficient resources. In addition, senior army officers have to ask their members to meet that requirement.
Here is what I think military members find difficult. The culture of military members having to constantly prove themselves is perpetuated, in a way, when they deal with Veterans Affairs Canada. For example, they have to do research to access their documents in order to prove that they have a service-related injury. I don't know whether this is true, but according to what I have been told, in the United States, the burden of proof lies with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and not the veterans themselves. Mr. Eyolfson also talked about that earlier.
My question is simple. Did you look at the burden of proof system in the United States in your audit? If so, what did you find out? If you did not look at it, what do you think about the burden of proof right now?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you.
Should you soon have an opportunity to carry out a study on Veterans Affairs Canada's services, I strongly recommend that you look into how the burden of proof is handled in the United States. That burden is actually assumed by the U.S. department in charge of veterans, and not by veterans themselves. I would really like to see the results of that study.
In your audit, you made a recommendation on the mental health hotline. That recommendation has been implemented.
Have you considered the option of having a hotline for suicide prevention? That also exists in the United States.
Many veterans have told me that it was good to have the mental health hotline, but in situations of extreme crisis, they would like to be able to call experts who could manage their situation and help them avoid committing suicide.
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