Interventions in Committee
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View Alupa Clarke Profile
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
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.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
You said that it was easier to have access to the rehabilitation program than to the disability benefits program. Do you think that is a matter of money?
Obviously, disability benefits require considerably more financial resources. Do you think this could explain the difference in eligibility between the two programs?
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