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Results: 541 - 600 of 150000
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Good afternoon, everyone. I'm very pleased to be here with you.
I want to say to our veterans that we're always very happy to welcome you. Your sharing of information and your years of service are very valuable. I was going to pass a question to Ms. Moss, but I think most of it has been addressed by my colleague, so I'll transfer that question to Mr. Lapointe.
I know that you are currently working with Meliora Service Dogs, but you also work with Audeamus, and I apologize for my pronunciation.
During your testimony, you alluded to the fact that there are many groups and not-for-profits in the field right now, and various approaches and interests. Maybe I can ask you this question: How would you recommend that VAC assess an organization for credibility if it develops standards for accreditation?
Marc Lapointe
View Marc Lapointe Profile
Marc Lapointe
2021-06-14 16:48
That is a really difficult answer to give, because you need to know who you're talking to most of the time. There have been big names announced here today who shouldn't be on this committee because of what they did to other veterans. You need to know who you're talking to, so do a background check to make sure that this person's program—this provider—is legit and doing the right things. I would say start with that.
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Lapointe, which name would you recommend? Would you be comfortable sharing those thoughts with us?
Marc Lapointe
View Marc Lapointe Profile
Marc Lapointe
2021-06-14 16:49
What do you mean by a name?
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
Lib. (ON)
I mean an organization that you feel could possibly be part of the group. You're saying that there are some names that shouldn't be, and you're sort of alluding—
Marc Lapointe
View Marc Lapointe Profile
Marc Lapointe
2021-06-14 16:49
It's like Ms. Moss mentioned: There's corruption everywhere, right? It's even in our branch here when we're talking today. I'm not going to recommend an organization per se. What I'm saying is to do your homework—as a person, as a veteran, as an MLA, as a government person. Do your study. Where does this guy come from? Where did he get his experience? Who did he train? What's his success rate? If it's 100%, he's lying, right? I am talking about things like that. I've got hundreds of questions. If you want, I can send them to you. They're about how to ask questions of an organization.
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much. As we develop those recommendations, we may take you up on that.
What risks are there for veterans seeking service dogs without a national policy for accreditation?
Marc Lapointe
View Marc Lapointe Profile
Marc Lapointe
2021-06-14 16:50
First off, way before getting there, is this person healthy enough to take care of a live animal? That's right from the start. We need to implement an interview process, a home visit, and make sure that the environment is also safe for that service dog. Is that person ready right now to get a service dog? He or she might not be ready for years. It's not just a fixing a problem thing. A dog is a lot of responsibility, and not every veteran can afford one or take care of one.
It's not an answer to the injury. It's helpful. It's a tool to help you get better in order to get to the next level, which is regaining dignity and confidence and socializing, etc.
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
Marc Lapointe
View Marc Lapointe Profile
Marc Lapointe
2021-06-14 16:51
My pleasure.
View Bryan May Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bryan May Profile
2021-06-14 16:51
Mrs. Lalonde, you still have some time left.
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
Lib. (ON)
Maybe I can put the same question to Ms. Moss or to Sergeant Webb. How would you recommend that VAC assess an organization for credibility if it has developed standards for accreditation?
Joanne Moss
View Joanne Moss Profile
Joanne Moss
2021-06-14 16:52
First of all, before you can look at accreditation, there needs to be a standard to accredit to, as I mentioned. That means a standard that develops the requirements. The procedure to achieve those requirements is a totally different document.
William Webb
View William Webb Profile
William Webb
2021-06-14 16:52
Veterans Affairs Canada needs to stay out of the service dog world, period. It's not the job of Veterans Affairs to get involved with the service dog world. It will work itself out, I believe, through this independent process and a national standards process. Accreditation is a whole different ball game with regard to standards.
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
Lib. (ON)
Would you give it to a third party? Could you continue elaborating for me?
William Webb
View William Webb Profile
William Webb
2021-06-14 16:53
Once a national standard comes out, an accreditation process can begin. I would leave it up to the individuals to do their research and then make an informed decision. There's so much information right now, and so much misinformation on the web right now, that it's impossible to make an informed decision.
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
View Bryan May Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bryan May Profile
2021-06-14 16:53
That's our time. Next we have MP Desilets for six minutes, please.
View Luc Desilets Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you for your loyal service, Mr. Webb, Mr. Fleury and Mr. Lapointe.
My first question is for you, Mr. Lapointe.
You're probably aware that the Australian Department of Veterans' Affairs covers almost all the dog‑related costs. I'm talking about training fees, incidentals and other after‑the‑fact fees.
In your opinion, should the same thing happen here?
Marc Lapointe
View Marc Lapointe Profile
Marc Lapointe
2021-06-14 16:54
Before I answer your question, I also want to tell you that the United States has an insurance company for service dogs called Trupanion. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs, through Trupanion, covers medical insurance for veterans' service dogs. Veterans Affairs Canada could do something of this nature to help our community.
Sorry, I'm drawing a blank. Can you repeat the question?
View Luc Desilets Profile
BQ (QC)
Do you think that we should follow Australia's example?
Marc Lapointe
View Marc Lapointe Profile
Marc Lapointe
2021-06-14 16:55
Absolutely.
I'm a veteran, as you know. I've been doing this work for the other veterans for over 10 years. I give 100%. I think that I've given 120% to my country and that, as a result, I deserve a service dog to make my life easier and to brighten up my daily life.
A service dog costs next to nothing, at most $1,200 per year. That isn't much. Over a period of eight to ten years of service, it would cost maybe $10,000. That's a base price. There isn't any profit in that. This includes all expenses: food, insurance, veterinarian, and so on. Even the training is included in the cost.
I do everything for free for everyone. Everything comes out of my pocket. I'm looking forward to getting help. I'm quite serious about that.
View Luc Desilets Profile
BQ (QC)
What do you think is preventing Veterans Affairs Canada from covering these costs? What's the hold up?
Marc Lapointe
View Marc Lapointe Profile
Marc Lapointe
2021-06-14 16:56
It's politics. We listen to a person who knows someone else in the government, because we think that the person must be credible. So we listen to this person, who isn't credible at all, and who is even making things worse for veterans instead of better.
In reality, 80% of the members of our organizations, perhaps even more, aren't doing this work for the right reasons. These members aren't doing this to help our fellow soldiers and get them out of the trenches, so to speak. I get my fellow soldiers out of the trenches. Others leave them there and only want their money's worth. These members tell the soldiers that, if they want a dog, they must pay a certain amount, that Assistance Dogs International is there, and so on. I'm sorry, but it doesn't work. There are hold‑ups everywhere and this must stop.
View Luc Desilets Profile
BQ (QC)
In your opinion, is there any evidence that assistance dogs are really helpful?
Marc Lapointe
View Marc Lapointe Profile
Marc Lapointe
2021-06-14 16:57
Absolutely, Mr. Desilets. The studies conducted by the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Regina provided evidence. If we do things right, within a year and a half, we can reduce the use of medication by 50% to 75% in assistance recipients. The person used to be holed up in the basement. With this assistance, the person will probably return to school or take courses to become a trainer in our organization in order to help the next veteran.
In other words, our organization helps veterans get back on their feet.
View Luc Desilets Profile
BQ (QC)
You mentioned two university studies. However, is there any evidence in the literature or elsewhere that the $12,000 investment would save us, say, $32,500?
Marc Lapointe
View Marc Lapointe Profile
Marc Lapointe
2021-06-14 16:58
We showed this to the RCMP. We sent the RCMP a file explaining how many billions of dollars we could save in drug costs as a result of service dogs.
View Luc Desilets Profile
BQ (QC)
Could the committee access this evidence?
Marc Lapointe
View Marc Lapointe Profile
Marc Lapointe
2021-06-14 16:58
Dr. Colleen Dell from the University of Saskatchewan has this information on hand.
View Luc Desilets Profile
BQ (QC)
Perfect, thank you. My assistant took down the information.
Marc Lapointe
View Marc Lapointe Profile
Marc Lapointe
2021-06-14 16:58
Perfect.
View Luc Desilets Profile
BQ (QC)
I have a hard time understanding. The United States is often used as a model. Do you think that they're experiencing similar challenges with service dogs?
Marc Lapointe
View Marc Lapointe Profile
Marc Lapointe
2021-06-14 16:58
They've experienced challenges before, but it's much more liberal. The Americans with Disabilities Act encompasses different service animals. As you've heard, there are things as outlandish as the use of a parrot, for example. They're much more liberal in that sense.
In Canada, we need an occupational standard to ensure the safety of the public, the safety of the service dog and veteran team, and the safety of the dog itself. Some people enjoy hitting a dog with an umbrella simply because the dog is next to them. Things of that nature must stop. There must be a standard so that people are informed and educated about proper behaviour.
Some people think that Veterans Affairs Canada should be left out of this. That's a valid opinion. However, the department must also be informed and aware of the situation so that it can help veterans.
I agree that we need the support of an independent body that has nothing to do with service dogs and that will take an unbiased look at the situation on behalf of all veterans in Canada.
View Luc Desilets Profile
BQ (QC)
Okay.
I think that my time is up. Please let me know, Mr. Chair.
Marc Lapointe
View Marc Lapointe Profile
Marc Lapointe
2021-06-14 17:00
If not, I'm ready to answer more questions.
View Bryan May Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bryan May Profile
2021-06-14 17:00
Thank you very much, sir.
View Luc Desilets Profile
BQ (QC)
View Bryan May Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bryan May Profile
2021-06-14 17:00
Everyone's being very good with their timing today.
Up next we have MP Blaney.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Chair, and I want to thank all of the folks who are here to testify today. I really appreciate it. For those of you who have served, thank you so much for your service. It means a lot to every Canadian.
Bill, I'm going to come to you first, of course.
The more that you teach me and the longer we do this study, the more I can see that we need national standards so that the end-user benefits. Without these standards, there are so many broken pieces that create this fragmented framework that leaves veterans behind.
Could you tell us, Bill, how having a service dog changed your life?
William Webb
View William Webb Profile
William Webb
2021-06-14 17:01
I was one of probably the few veterans who believed what people told you about service dogs. I actually did my research. I phoned almost a dozen providers, and only one provider asked me these questions: Am I safe, and do I have a medical team I'm working with?
That was the team I initially went with. I was on numerous antipsychotic medications. Within the first year, like Marc said, I was down to one or maybe two. Two years later I was medication-free. I'm not on the marijuana maintenance program funded by Veterans Affairs. I used my dog until my dog passed away at Christmastime. I'm in the process of working to get another one.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
NDP (BC)
You talked in your testimony about the challenges you experienced. Most specifically, and one that we worked together on, was your experience with the service dog and how that really impacted your ability to have shelter, to have a home. I think that's really important, because you're not the only veteran I've heard from who's had a similar experience.
Could tell the committee a bit about that so that we have that testimony?
William Webb
View William Webb Profile
William Webb
2021-06-14 17:02
I can give you a specific instance that happened in the last week. Exactly one week ago, two service dog team members who were in Whistler Blackcomb were attempting to gain services and were being denied service. The RCMP had to be called to get involved with the directors at Whistler Blackcomb, because the service dog act in B.C. says that if you don't have an ID card for B.C., you can't go anywhere with your service dog. The RCMP, because they have a fiduciary duty to uphold the Canadian charter, explained the situation to them. The way that B.C., Alberta and Nova Scotia are getting around that misinformation with regard to the act is the clause that they put in section 1.1 of the service dog act that says the Human Rights Code supersedes this act, but it doesn't stop the industries. Even though they have all of this misinformation, they can't just stop somebody from gaining access.
I'm sorry to say that my own sister took her pet and did the test in B.C. in 22 minutes. She has a dog that is not trained, and now she has a service dog certified by the Province of B.C. and can go anywhere with a pet. It's a very small dog, so I'm having issues with my own family with regard to how the act is written and implemented in B.C. Anybody can get a service dog in B.C., anybody. If you have a well-behaved dog, you can pass the test. My dog has a standard, not a test.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
NDP (BC)
That's a pretty significant difference.
Marc Lapointe
View Marc Lapointe Profile
Marc Lapointe
2021-06-14 17:04
Could I add a small thing on that, please?
View Rachel Blaney Profile
NDP (BC)
Marc Lapointe
View Marc Lapointe Profile
Marc Lapointe
2021-06-14 17:04
I travel across Canada in my van. I'm in my van right now. What Bill mentioned is true. In Alberta and B.C., when I was there last winter, I was checked with my service dog, and because I'm from Ontario, they said I couldn't come. That's ridiculous. I'm travelling. We need to fix that problem.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
NDP (BC)
I agree, and that's what I was going to ask Bill to talk about as well, because that is the reality right now. When you move from one part of Canada to another, the standards are different.
Here you are as a veteran. You have your dog with you to provide the standard of care that you require to live the life you want to. You testified earlier about being able to go off antipsychotic drugs. I think that is amazing.
I wonder if you could talk about what changes you see when you move from province to province. You talked about moving to British Columbia. What was one of the biggest changes that you noted?
William Webb
View William Webb Profile
William Webb
2021-06-14 17:05
Denial of public access is the biggest one across the board, whether it be government, civic or provincial buildings.
I appreciate the separation between federal and provincial jurisdictions, but we have federal members of Parliament sitting on organizations that are pushing those organizations' agenda to write policy that also now affects the Competition Act, because if you're a service dog provider and you don't belong to ADI in B.C., you can't practise your position. You're put at a disadvantage.
Because this is all human rights law, there's no money in it, so lawyers aren't going to get involved. In the end, that leaves the veteran being abused by the system consistently.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
NDP (BC)
In your opinion, what needs to happen at VAC in order for veterans across Canada to safely and securely obtain a service dog?
William Webb
View William Webb Profile
William Webb
2021-06-14 17:06
I definitely need VAC to stay out of the development of the standards process. Veterans Affairs should support it wholeheartedly but take an independent, outside approach, because service dog organizations have made huge inroads to push their agenda within the department itself. It's rampant. I run into it all the time. That's why Veterans Affairs needs to stay out of it and stay completely impartial in the process of a standard.
View Bryan May Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bryan May Profile
2021-06-14 17:06
Thank you. I'm afraid that's time.
Up next for five minutes, we have MP Ruff, please.
View Alex Ruff Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Chair.
First off, I give my personal thanks to you, Bill and Marc. My assumption is that Carl is a former member of the Canadian Forces too, just based on his stellar haircut.
I spent 25 years in the infantry myself and only retired two years ago. I know where you're coming from. I want to thank you for your service.
I'm fortunate. I'm not dealing with some of the challenges many others have, but a lot of my friends and former colleagues do suffer and are dependent upon their service dogs to support them. As you stated, for some of them.... What standard to they meet? There is no standard here.
I was fortunate to be part of this committee when I first got elected. I haven't been on it in the last almost eight months. I'm glad to be back. I'm a little shocked to see some of the challenges we're facing here.
I want to go back to you, Sergeant Webb, on some of your comments. I totally agree. I think we need to keep the politicians and even the government out of the business of deciding standards. That isn't for elected officials.
What organization...? Do you guys have a suggestion? How do we select that process to set these standards? I want you to elaborate a bit more on that, Sergeant Webb.
William Webb
View William Webb Profile
William Webb
2021-06-14 17:08
The process has already started with the HRSO, which the Canadian Association for Animal-Assisted Support Services is involved in. There's an independent body.
I want to say that Joanne Moss's organization, which is completely independent, gets attacked by industry all the time for the work they're trying to do in staying impartial. The independent study is happening right now to try to put together a national standard. That just needs to be allowed to happen.
I challenge all of you to go on and google three service dog organizations' websites. Look for a copy of their standard. It will not be there. The only published standard available is through Courageous Companions. It's the only one that has its standard up on its website. Nobody else does. They talk about standards, but they won't make them public. The only publicly available standard right now is from one organization. It's not a national standard, but it's published. It's there so people can see it.
View Alex Ruff Profile
CPC (ON)
Yes, I totally agree with that. I'm a big believer in the transparency side of it.
The question I'm going to ask of all three witnesses, really quickly here, is this: How do we move forward? Again, I've heard from friends of mine, former colleagues, who are frustrated with this lack of a decision or the slow pace in moving forward on this issue. To me, this isn't rocket science. This is something we should be able to solve quite quickly. It's not going to be perfect and we're still going to have challenges, but we need to get these national standards established.
In your view, how long should we take to steer whatever independent organization forward and get a standard established, so that this is common and we're not running into these mobility and service challenges across the country?
I can start with you, Marc.
Marc Lapointe
View Marc Lapointe Profile
Marc Lapointe
2021-06-14 17:10
That's a tough question to answer. Obviously I'm going to preach for my choir, because my standards are really high. I go with safety. Safety is across the board, as well as professionalism, etiquette and things like that. We're not just strolling with a service dog. This service dog needs to be invisible to the public and not become an obstruction.
It's hard for me to tell you who to go see to get some advice. I would be honest and say Ms. Moss. Go and see her. She's impartial. She's been doing this for 20 years. I guess that's the solution right now. She's been implicated in so much stuff. She's aware of standards.
View Alex Ruff Profile
CPC (ON)
It's not so much about who, but how long?
To me, some of these standards do exist. How long before we get this established?
Marc Lapointe
View Marc Lapointe Profile
Marc Lapointe
2021-06-14 17:11
It's not rocket science, as you said, sir. It's not difficult. We just sit down and say that these are the procedures. Are they safe? Yes, they are. Then we have to train people to make sure that these standards [Technical difficulty—Editor] and answered at the end of the day. It's not just saying, “You're my buddy; you're good.” No, it doesn't work like that.
William Webb
View William Webb Profile
William Webb
2021-06-14 17:12
That's a long-winded officer's answer, Marc.
Marc Lapointe
View Marc Lapointe Profile
Marc Lapointe
2021-06-14 17:12
It happens.
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