Evidence of meeting #23 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 programs.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Guy Parent  Veterans Ombudsman, Chief Warrant Officer (Retired), Office of the Veterans Ombudsman
  • Keith Hillier  Assistant Deputy Minister, Service Delivery, Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Gary Walbourne  Director General, Operations, Office of the Veterans Ombudsman
  • Raymond Lalonde  Director, National Centre for Operational Stress Injuries, Ste. Anne's Hospital, Department of Veterans Affairs

4:20 p.m.

Veterans Ombudsman, Chief Warrant Officer (Retired), Office of the Veterans Ombudsman

Guy Parent

I would say that is the national standard cost as identified by the association of funeral directors of Canada.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Greg Kerr

Thank you very much.

We won't take that off your time, Mr. Strahl, so go ahead for five minutes.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, BC

Thank you very much.

Mr. Parent, I was interested in the section on the transition from military service. First of all, you mentioned that the release interview is not mandatory. Do you think it should be?

4:20 p.m.

Veterans Ombudsman, Chief Warrant Officer (Retired), Office of the Veterans Ombudsman

Guy Parent

I definitely do, and in fact at this point in time the transition interview is mandatory for people who are being released medically and who have to access services or a continuum of services from their service to Veterans Affairs Canada. It is not mandatory for reservists, and many of them just go back into full society and sometimes fall through the cracks. Again, I think if we have programs—and the majority of programs at Veterans Affairs Canada are based on needs—then the only person who can identify needs is the individual himself or his family. So this interview is important.

I would add, Mr. Chair, that the healthy veteran may also need a transition interview, because if you've been in the forces for 35 years and you've never been in civilian society, it's quite an experience. It's quite different.

We also need to look at the psychosocial aspect. People talk about reintegration. If you've never lived in the Canadian civilian context, it's not reintegration, it's integration, and there need to be programs that are actually oriented towards that aspect of it.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, BC

I don't know if this falls under your purview or if this is more DND's, but you've served in the CF and can maybe speak to it. My thinking would be that when someone is transitioning out, it's almost too late, and you should have been preparing them throughout their career.

Are there programs in the Canadian Forces that soldiers, sailors, airmen, and airwomen can avail themselves of to help them so that it's not such a shock for them, as you said, to step out into the great unknown? Are there programs throughout their careers that help them to plan financially and all the other things they may need to plan for, for their post-military life? Do those programs exist?

4:20 p.m.

Veterans Ombudsman, Chief Warrant Officer (Retired), Office of the Veterans Ombudsman

Guy Parent

I can't really speak to the programs of today. I can speak of my experience in 38 years in the forces, and then I decided not to make a career out of it. They had programs called the second career assistance network that were geared towards preparing military uniform personnel or service personnel to actually go to a civilian career. But if you have two years of service, you're 20 years old, and you're anxious about going to your next mission, what's going to happen 20 years down the road is not that important.

Again, to get a straight answer on that you'd have to ask somebody from National Defence as to what exists today. But if the question would be, are they necessary, yes, I think they definitely are.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, BC

If I have some time, you also were critical about the access to occupational stress injury clinics in terms of a veteran having to be drug free, etc., to access that. How does that compare, perhaps, to the provincial system or private clinics of a similar nature? Is that unique to Veterans Affairs, or is that kind of the norm in terms of these sorts of clinics and what they require before someone accesses their programming?

4:20 p.m.

Veterans Ombudsman, Chief Warrant Officer (Retired), Office of the Veterans Ombudsman

Guy Parent

Mr. Chair, I believe we have an expert here on the OSI clinic. The national coordinator is here, so I'm sure he'd be able to—

4:20 p.m.

Raymond Lalonde Director, National Centre for Operational Stress Injuries, Ste. Anne's Hospital, Department of Veterans Affairs

We have ten clinics. Nine are outpatient clinics and one is the in-patient residential clinic. As the ombudsman was saying earlier, there is concern about the access to some of our clinics. We hear that it's mainly around the access to the in-patient clinic.

We are working at developing policy options to ensure that we can better serve those who, I would say, require crisis emergency support. The residential treatment clinic at Ste. Anne's Hospital does respond to a need, but there are needs for those who are in crisis and who require emergency support that we need to factor into our continuum of service.

So we are working on this, and there will be policy options, and service delivery will implement these options when they're established.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, BC

Thank you.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Greg Kerr

Thank you very much.

That ends round one. We're going to go to round two, which is a four-minute round. I think the committee has agreed to go into a first round again, for a shorter question period at that time. Is that correct? I know there has been some discussion and consensus.

4:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Greg Kerr

It's just lovely. I just feel wonderful about this.

So we'll go to the second round with four-minute rounds.

I believe we start with Ms. Papillon.

March 8th, 2012 / 4:25 p.m.

NDP

Annick Papillon Québec, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Parent, thank you for coming to testify. We are really quite blessed to have you here.

I read the report you submitted. Please excuse me if I don't have enough time to ask all the questions I would like to about this.

I know you received a large number of complaints in 2010-2011 about disability awards. Have you seen a decrease in the number of those complaints since Veterans Affairs Canada is allowing the payment in annual instalments, rather than in lump sums?

4:25 p.m.

Veterans Ombudsman, Chief Warrant Officer (Retired), Office of the Veterans Ombudsman

Guy Parent

That's a very good question, Mr. Chair.

The new Veterans Charter, which includes the lump sum, got a lot of reactions from the veterans community in general. What is very important to understand is that the programs in the new charter are not yet very well known. The lump sum is seen as if it was the only program that people will have access to, based on the programs in the new charter, but that's not necessarily the case because it may be combined with other programs.

The changes made to the charter have shown that there could be some flexibility in how people can access the lump sum. This is certainly an improvement. Now that we have the flexibility, we need to continue working with the department's representatives to be even more flexible in order to respond to the needs of the individual. If the new charter is based on the needs of the individual, we should therefore adapt access to benefits based on the needs.