Evidence of meeting #32 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 veterans.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • David Robinson  Director General of Transformation, Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Bernard Butler  Director General, Policy and Research Division, Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Charlotte Stewart  Director General, Service Delivery and Program Management, Department of Veterans Affairs

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Greg Kerr

Madam Perreault, you're going to have to be very brief, if you wouldn't mind, because his 10-second time was closer to a minute.

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

No, it wasn't....

May 8th, 2012 / 5:20 p.m.

NDP

Manon Perreault Montcalm, QC

I know I am almost out of time, but I have a hard time understanding how you will measure progress while, at the same time, strengthening partnerships.

Won't that really complicate the process of figuring out whether veterans services have improved?

5:20 p.m.

Director General, Service Delivery and Program Management, Department of Veterans Affairs

Charlotte Stewart

Do we have a report right now that we can provide to you on our progress...? I think I understood that question correctly.

We have reports on every element of transformation. I know that David's team has milestones and targets and is the owner of our reporting on that.

David, I don't know if at this point you wanted to speak publicly about that provision.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Greg Kerr

Very briefly, Mr. Robinson, as we're running out of time here.

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Manon Perreault Montcalm, QC

One last quick question.

We are talking about social determinants of health, about people with health problems, physical as well as mental. But I want to focus on mental health for a moment. If a veteran has a mental health issue of some sort as a result of their military service, can that person be seen by individuals who are less accustomed to dealing with patients of that nature? Should there not be specialists to treat veterans in these situations?

5:25 p.m.

Director General, Service Delivery and Program Management, Department of Veterans Affairs

Charlotte Stewart

Absolutely—

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Greg Kerr

Excuse me. Can you provide that in writing, along with answers to Mr. Stoffer's questions? Because we do literally shut down by 5:30. We'll make sure we get the answers to everyone.

I'm going to give a couple of minutes to Ms. Adams and then we'll wrap up.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Eve Adams Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

I'd like to commend the department on the plain language review letters. They are being very well received by our veterans.

They are very simply stated. Veterans can very easily understand exactly why a decision is being rendered, what information was used in developing the decision that is rendered, and how someone might go about appealing that decision or providing additional information if the decision does not accurately reflect the medical state that the veteran finds himself or herself in. Thank you very much for that.

Could you perhaps provide some additional details for us on what more the department is doing to cut red tape and other barriers for our veterans?

5:25 p.m.

Director General, Service Delivery and Program Management, Department of Veterans Affairs

Charlotte Stewart

I mentioned that we've tackled each of our programs. As I said, our programs are very cumbersome. Some are procedures. You mentioned the letters. We're taking each of them and reducing the application process to simpler forms and fewer steps. That's one way of reducing red tape.

I mentioned as well that our front-line staff remain key to our service delivery and that we've delegated additional authority to them. When you think about it, instead of having people behind the scenes making decisions, we've given the decision-making authority to the front-line staff. Case managers today can make virtually all decisions related to a case plan for a veteran who needs rehabilitation.

In the past, that might have had to go to a higher level of decision-making, or even to Charlottetown sometimes, etc., but it has all been moved to the front line wherever possible.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Eve Adams Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

So staff have been empowered to offer that decision right then and there. Is that correct?

5:25 p.m.

Director General, Service Delivery and Program Management, Department of Veterans Affairs

Charlotte Stewart

Yes, absolutely.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Eve Adams Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

They're the ones who can actually look at the veteran and see what he or she might need.

5:25 p.m.

Director General, Service Delivery and Program Management, Department of Veterans Affairs

Charlotte Stewart

They're the ones who make the determination, in consultation with the veteran, about what their path will be. They will discuss together their medical needs or training needs. The case manager is key to that whole relationship, and now they have the autonomy to make those decisions at the front line.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Eve Adams Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Do you keep metrics of how much faster the veterans are provided with these types of services because of these changes?