Evidence of meeting #33 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 outreach.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Colleen Soltermann  Director, Outreach, Consultation and Engagement, Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Krista Locke  Regional Director General, Department of Veterans Affairs

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Greg Kerr

Thank you very much.

Now I'll go to Mr. Casey, for five minutes.

May 10th, 2012 / 3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Charlottetown, PE

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Ms. Soltermann, I'll start with you. I asked this question on Tuesday to Charlotte Stewart and Mr. Butler.

I'm aware that you have meetings with veterans advocacy stakeholder groups. In fact we've got a couple of representatives in the room here, Mike Blais and Sylvain Chartrand, who may look familiar to you.

We've heard evidence before this committee in the past that over the course of several months and years this stakeholders group has met at a high level within Veterans Affairs, right to the minister and the deputy. They have come up with...the number that I recall from the testimony was 500 recommendations, three of which have been implemented.

Before you answer, when Mr. Butler answered this question on Tuesday, in fairness to him he said they do all these other consultations and these are all very helpful. I expect if you have talking points, that's where they're supposed to take you.

I want you to focus in on the stakeholder group I'm talking about. There are these umpteen recommendations that haven't been met. Could you tell me what you know about that and whether that is in the process of being disbanded?

3:55 p.m.

Director, Outreach, Consultation and Engagement, Department of Veterans Affairs

Colleen Soltermann

I'll tell you a little bit about the structures we used to have in place.

We did, in the past, have advisory committees, or “groups” as we called them, that existed until about a couple of years ago. They issued, in fact, a number of reports making recommendations.

In the most recent past, we've looked at how we can renew our approach to engaging at the national level. We wanted to make sure we brought to the table some new organizations that we hadn't really engaged in the past. As you mentioned, one of our organizations we have been engaging with is in the room today. They're relatively new to us in the last year or so, I would say, and they certainly have been an important contributor to the work VAC is doing, helping us understand the needs and services.

We did have, from those previous committees, a number of recommendations, and if I'm not mistaken, Mr. Butler indicated that there were about 250 recommendations from those previous structures. Of those, about 160—a good percentage of them, therefore—were either fully or partially implemented. Those recommendations, I would say, live on. That may not necessarily be the correct term, but they still remain relevant in the work VAC does as it looks forward to how it's going to continue to enhance the programs and services that are offered, and they continue to guide the department.

The new stakeholder committee that was established met three times: June last year, last October, and last February. We continue to work with those veterans organizations on an ongoing basis, whether it's everyday discussions—I have calls every day with some of those organizations and their representatives—or whether it's having teleconferences or meetings on a bilateral basis. We'll continue to do that. We'll continue to engage with them.

We're looking at the different formats—bilateral or multilateral meetings, where we had the veterans organizations at the table last February on a multilateral basis at our committee.

Our commitment to continue to engage with veterans organizations remains.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Charlottetown, PE

Tell me if I'm wrong, and it wouldn't be the first time today. Is there a group that has made upwards of 500 recommendations and that is saying publicly that only three have been adopted?

4 p.m.

Director, Outreach, Consultation and Engagement, Department of Veterans Affairs

Colleen Soltermann

Veterans Affairs Canada has implemented more than 160 of the 250 recommendations. There are many recommendations that have been made from outside of government, from individuals, but the ones I'm talking about are the ones we formally had from those advisory councils that had made recommendations. VAC has acted on a number of those ones.

You may be referring to the implementation of the new Veterans Charter enhancements that came recently, through which we improved some of the benefits and services.

We've acted on a majority of those recommendations.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Charlottetown, PE

Thank you.

Ms. Locke, your title is regional director general of the Atlantic region as well as the national contact centre and the treatment authorization network. What is the national contact centre?

4 p.m.

Regional Director General, Department of Veterans Affairs

Krista Locke

The national contact centre is the network whereby clients can call in to the department.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Charlottetown, PE

So it's a call centre.

4 p.m.

Regional Director General, Department of Veterans Affairs

Krista Locke

It's a call centre, yes, and the treatment authorization centre is for providers to contact the department.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Charlottetown, PE

Where is the call centre?

4 p.m.

Regional Director General, Department of Veterans Affairs

Krista Locke

We have call centres at three sites across Canada: Dartmouth, Kirkland Lake, and Winnipeg—sorry, we have a fourth centre—and Montreal.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Greg Kerr

We're right up against the time, Mr. Casey, so just ask a quick one.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Charlottetown, PE

Thank you.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Greg Kerr

Okay, thank you.

We now go to Mr. Harris for five minutes, please.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Colleen and Krista, we appreciate your presentation.

Although I came to the social media age late in life, and I'm still kicking and screaming to not get into it, I know that it's really effective. Could you give us an example? Let's talk about the introduction of a Twitter account. Can you just give us a little capsule look at how successful...? It looks as if it's been pretty successful. How does it work for you, and how do you start off getting something out on it on a regular day? What's the procedure?