Evidence of meeting #21 for Veterans Affairs in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was released.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Alice Aiken  Director, Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research
  • David Pedlar  Director, Policy and Research, Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Charlotte Bastien  Regional Director General, Quebec Region, Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Stéphane Lemieux  Team Manager, Client Services, Department of Veterans Affairs

4:55 p.m.

Team Manager, Client Services, Department of Veterans Affairs

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Annick Papillon Québec, QC

Today, we heard there was a shortage of public funding for research. We also heard that the reasons are unclear as to why veteran suicide is such a problem.

Do you plan to invest more in research, and if so, how?

4:55 p.m.

Regional Director General, Quebec Region, Department of Veterans Affairs

Charlotte Bastien

I work on programs and service delivery. So I am not in a position to answer the question on research funding. However, Dr. Pedlar mentioned that the research was continuing.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Annick Papillon Québec, QC

Do you know if any research on chemical weapons is being done, specifically with regard to applications....

4:55 p.m.

Regional Director General, Quebec Region, Department of Veterans Affairs

Charlotte Bastien

I am sorry, but that is not my area of expertise.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Annick Papillon Québec, QC

Very well.

I think I'll stop there.

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Greg Kerr

You still have a minute and a half, so if someone would like to fill it, anybody from your....

Mr. Genest.

5 p.m.

NDP

Réjean Genest Shefford, QC

I quite liked your presentation. I would say it rounded out the one that came before.

That presentation drew attention to the fact that veterans subject to the new charter have more problems when it comes to integration and unemployment than those subject to the old charter. What about the new charter, which seems quite positive at first glance, gives rise to more problems? For instance, veterans under the new charter struggle more with unemployment and, it would appear, the issues associated with that.

Do you have any immediate plans to examine the results, so as to determine whether the new charter makes life for veterans better, healthier and more balanced vis-à-vis society as compared with the old charter? We are following a new piece of legislation, but that legislation lowers, rather than improves, veterans' quality of life, does it not?

5 p.m.

Regional Director General, Quebec Region, Department of Veterans Affairs

Charlotte Bastien

I am not sure which data you are referring to. It is true that a risk group was mentioned, but overall, the group's unemployment rate is comparable to that of Canadian society. In the group identified by Dr. Pedlar, which was part of the research, some people were subject to the new system and others came under the old system. The individuals in question were released between 1997 and 2007.

In fact, 79% of those subject to the new charter and who took part in the rehabilitation program have civilian employment. They are not unemployed. The other group is made up individuals with a disability that prevents them from working. There are a slew of financial programs available to assist these individuals given that they cannot work or earn a decent living, and to help them support themselves.

I do not think unemployment is higher under the new system.

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Greg Kerr

Sorry, we're quite a bit over time with that.

Mr. Lizon.

February 14th, 2012 / 5 p.m.

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and my thanks to the witnesses for coming here this afternoon.

I think you mentioned, Mr. Lemieux, that the information about the programs is insufficient. Why is it like this? We heard presentations before and we understand that whoever is being released from Canadian Forces, for whatever reason, gets the briefing, gets the proper information. So where is the gap? Why are some people not aware of some programs, or are not reaching out to apply for the programs?

5 p.m.

Regional Director General, Quebec Region, Department of Veterans Affairs

Charlotte Bastien

We started doing SCAN seminars with the Canadian Forces in the late nineties, so before that time there was not much outreach for military releasing from the forces. We started doing transition interviews in the early 2000s.

So there is a group that's harder to reach--namely, individuals who were releasing before 2000. Last year we had an awareness campaign, an advertisement on defining who is a veteran, so that these individuals would know that there were services available, even though they might have released 20 years ago.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

What is being done to increase the awareness of the programs for the group that's affected?

5:05 p.m.

Team Manager, Client Services, Department of Veterans Affairs

Stéphane Lemieux

As mentioned, last year there were about 20 sites that were visited. I did three in the Quebec area; I did the presentation in Bagotville, Valcartier, and St-Jean. I've also given that presentation to reserve units in the Quebec district office area of operation. So we're getting out there and we're providing more information.

On the other hand, I remember while I was in uniform nobody was pressing on my chain of command the importance to go to some information briefing that was there. I received one prior to leaving for Bosnia, but my mind was set on the deployment, not really on Veterans Affairs Canada.

I think we're getting better in outreach to the Canadian Forces and making sure that the chain of command in the Canadian Forces is supporting us when it's time to go and give presentations. For the one I gave in Bagotville, everybody from the chain of command was present in the room. That shows that the importance of assisting these briefings and getting that information goes from the top down.

A lot of effort is put forward to make sure that we reach out to the reserve units as well. It was mentioned in the other presentation that it's hard to get to them and to get the information to them, but we're pushing forward on that one because that's one of the weakest aspects that we have.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Thank you.

Can you maybe explain or provide more details on how the earnings loss benefit works?