Evidence of meeting #35 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

  • Heather Parry  Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Services, Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Charlotte Stewart  Director General, Service Delivery and Program Management, Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Bernard Butler  Director General, Policy and Research Division, Department of Veterans Affairs

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Westlock—St. Paul, AB

When can we expect that to be finished?

4:15 p.m.

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

Charlotte Stewart

The first letters that impact a number of clients have already been improved, and our minister has spoken about that. The intention is to proceed as rapidly as possible through the coming months to complete this.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Greg Kerr

Thank you very much. We're a bit over time.

We'll go to Mr. Lobb, for five.

May 17th, 2012 / 4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Huron—Bruce, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

My first question deals with a point on page 10 about the ratio of case managers to veterans. Let's assume, in theory, that the net increase in veterans who are going to need to be actively managed this year is a thousand. How is that triggered in the department so that new case managers are added? How does that work?

4:15 p.m.

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

Charlotte Stewart

First of all, it is a very dynamic process in the sense that our case managers, as we've spoken about, are the front line for the department. They have to make a determination when they have a new client as to whether the person needs case management.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Huron—Bruce, ON

No. I guess my point is that they've already determined that. What I'm saying is that if there's a net increase of a thousand who need to be actively managed, how does the department hire the extra 25 people to keep them at the 40:1 ratio?

4:15 p.m.

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

Charlotte Stewart

First of all, we'll make sure that the workload for each of them is managed appropriately so that it stays within 40:1. The department has a commitment to 40:1.

Because there's a natural turnover of case managers, our managers on the ground do anticipatory staffing. They run processes so that there is an availability of case managers who meet the qualifications for the department, which include having a professional degree. Through anticipatory staffing, we would be able to draw on people who are qualified to take the job and could add them to our ranks rather quickly if there were a surge in the workload. We've done that in areas such as Quebec quite recently.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Huron—Bruce, ON

If a case manager is actively managing 40 cases, to use an easy number, and his or her caseload doubles in a year—even if that's not realistic—explain to me how long it would take for a new case manager to be hired so that you would have another case manager who would take up the workload.

4:15 p.m.

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

Charlotte Stewart

I can give you a candid response: It depends on the availability of that skill set in the area. In our high-demand areas, we've been running processes to make sure that we can have people ready to come into the department at fairly short notice. In Quebec, for instance, through that staffing process I mentioned, we have a roster of qualified case managers who could be added very quickly.

In other areas, if a case manager leaves, it may take longer because of the availability of the skill set or because of the desire of the individuals who might have that skill set to come into the department.

I can't be more precise than that. But we have been very successful bringing people in quickly in areas of high demand.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Huron—Bruce, ON

By quickly do you mean six months, a year, or two years? What does that timeframe look like?

4:20 p.m.

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

Charlotte Stewart

It's been less than six months, for sure.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Huron—Bruce, ON

All right. That's good.

I'll move along to consulting members of the Canadian Forces and their families.

Before we get into it, I would like to recognize all of our distinguished guests here today. It's great to have people such as you in here to support the committee. Thank you for being here today.

On consulting, how does the department consult with members of the Canadian Forces? And how is that information used to actually make a change or make an improvement? Oftentimes, whether it's in business or in government, there are consultations and then a report and then nothing. This process is to actually produce a better outcome for Canadian Forces members. How does that work?

4:20 p.m.

Director General, Policy and Research Division, Department of Veterans Affairs

Bernard Butler

How it works is this way. The department is very sensitive to the needs and the concerns of Canadians, of still-serving members, of veterans. Over time, the department has used a number of methods such as establishing committees like the New Veterans Charter Advisory Group or the Gerontological Advisory Council. All these groups have generated reports over time. All those reports are taken by the department and considered in the light of future policy and strategies.

A good example of that would be the Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act, which was largely drawn from many of the recommendations that had been made to the department regarding perceived gaps in the new Veterans Charter, particularly as it relates to the most seriously disabled veterans. That's a concrete example of how input is taken and then used to try to improve programming by the Government of Canada.

In a more recent example, the department engaged in an extensive consultation across Canada. It appeared on all of the major bases and wings of the Canadian Forces, in concert with our Canadian Forces colleagues. We did presentations on the new Veterans Charter, but we also recorded concerns and questions that were being identified. All of that is brought back to the department to be collated and analyzed, and it all serves as the foundation for future planning. It asks questions we need to consider. Where should we be going? What are the most pressing needs that are being identified? Where are the issues that we should be pushing to resolve the future?

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Greg Kerr

Mr. Stoffer.

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Thank you, and my thanks to the witnesses for coming today.

I'm looking at your section on managing change, and I'm wondering if at a future date you can write us an explanation of what you mean by “mitigate the risk”. I don't have time to ask all the questions I'd like, so if it's possible to get a response later on, that would be great.

The priority hiring of veterans was a key aspect of the charter. How many veterans has DVA hired as employees since 2006?