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

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Réjean Genest Shefford, QC

So, in your opinion, the major problems relating to these two issues stem from the fact that we are multiplying the number of categories, of programs and so on? We are multiplying the bureaucracy and, by the very fact, we are reducing the possibilities that a sick person has. Someone who's sick, regardless of where the person is from, regardless of the illness, needs care and needs income, whether he or she was injured by repairing a gun at Valcartier or somewhere else.

3:50 p.m.

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

Guy Parent

Exactly: it's military service.

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Réjean Genest Shefford, QC

So all of this should be simplified.

3:50 p.m.

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

Guy Parent

That's exactly why, in my opening presentation, I spoke about the complexity of the programs as a very important factor when it comes to fairness. All the systematic reviews of certain benefits programs that we currently do are done from this perspective: we ask ourselves whether the process is too complicated, if the resources are sufficient and if the programs are adequate.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Greg Kerr

Thank you very much, Mr. Genest.

Now we go to Ms. Adams for five minutes.

March 8th, 2012 / 3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Eve Adams Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Thanks very much, Monsieur Parent, for coming here, and thank you for your advocacy on behalf of our veterans. You've been doing just an outstanding job.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that it's International Women's Day, so I'd like to pay particular tribute to all of the wonderful women who serve for us and the women who support our armed forces and our veterans.

Monsieur Parent, you mentioned during your testimony that an ID card would be helpful, and that hopefully that ID card would have an expiry date. Can you tell me which other countries currently have that type of ID card and what types of features are included in that?

3:50 p.m.

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

Guy Parent

Right now we are in the process of looking at the options, at what other countries are doing, and at what that card would be like. Should it be a card with a chip? Should it be a card with a memory? We're just at the very basis right now of looking at those aspects of it. People do get a card now when they leave the Canadian Forces, but it is a card that is really useless. It has a nice picture—mine is from 10 years ago, so I looked pretty good then—but the thing is the card doesn't have a gender or a date of birth, so you can't use it at an airport; you can't use it anywhere.

Since we're already going through the process of giving somebody a card, our view is that maybe it should be a value-added card. Then even if a veteran is not injured—and as you're all well aware, some injuries do not become evident until later on—at least that person would have an identity already within the VAC database and would be able to actually access the system without a whole lot of effort to try to get health and service records.

That would certainly be a good thing to do.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Eve Adams Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

That's a very interesting concept actually. It seems very helpful.

My next question is for Mr. Hillier.

Could you tell me the degree to which we'll be able to measure the success of the transformative agenda?

3:50 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Service Delivery, Department of Veterans Affairs

Keith Hillier

There are two ways we are going to be able to measure it. First, there's the formal way, in terms of the reports on plans and priorities that are tabled, as well as the departmental performance report, and we have numerous statistical reports that show us what the wait time is.

But I think what's important to me, in addition to these documents that we table in the House, is the reaction I get when I visit Canadian Forces bases and wings. I have soldiers coming up to me to say they got their disability award in a very short period of time and that it's not the way it used to be. Veterans tell me they're not having to wait as long as they used to for reimbursement for travel. Colleagues say, “I was at my folks' house on the weekend and I was helping them prepare the documentation for the veterans independence program, and gee, the forms are a lot easier than they used to be.”

So I think there are really two things. There are the formal reports that I would ask people to review, particularly the departmental performance report, but also the stories and the feedback I get from veterans and their families.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Eve Adams Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Do you keep metrics as to satisfaction results and so on by department?

3:50 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Service Delivery, Department of Veterans Affairs

Keith Hillier

Yes, we do satisfaction surveys, and also—

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Eve Adams Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Sorry to interrupt, but are those segregated by combat missions?

3:50 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Service Delivery, Department of Veterans Affairs

Keith Hillier

No, they're not. They're not segregated. There's a segregation between war-era veterans and modern-era veterans. There's no segregation based on the theatre where you may have had action.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Eve Adams Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Could you perhaps comment on the ombudsman's comments that there are some veterans who weren't aware of the types of benefits that were available to them?

3:55 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Service Delivery, Department of Veterans Affairs

Keith Hillier

Unfortunately, there are situations where sometimes people aren't aware, and that's why last year, with the support of the chief of military personnel, we visited about 20 Canadian Forces bases and wings and had town halls to outline to the men and women the types of services and benefits....

In addition to that, everybody leaving the Canadian Forces, whether for medical or any other reasons, have access to a transition interview with one of our staff, where we sit down with the person who is leaving the Canadian Forces, generally about 60 days before they leave the Canadian Forces.