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Evidence of meeting #21 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 released.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Alice Aiken  Director, Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research
David Pedlar  Director, Policy and Research, Department of Veterans Affairs
Charlotte Bastien  Regional Director General, Quebec Region, Department of Veterans Affairs
Stéphane Lemieux  Team Manager, Client Services, Department of Veterans Affairs

February 14th, 2012 / 5 p.m.

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Conservative Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and my thanks to the witnesses for coming here this afternoon.

I think you mentioned, Mr. Lemieux, that the information about the programs is insufficient. Why is it like this? We heard presentations before and we understand that whoever is being released from Canadian Forces, for whatever reason, gets the briefing, gets the proper information. So where is the gap? Why are some people not aware of some programs, or are not reaching out to apply for the programs?

5 p.m.

Regional Director General, Quebec Region, Department of Veterans Affairs

Charlotte Bastien

We started doing SCAN seminars with the Canadian Forces in the late nineties, so before that time there was not much outreach for military releasing from the forces. We started doing transition interviews in the early 2000s.

So there is a group that's harder to reach--namely, individuals who were releasing before 2000. Last year we had an awareness campaign, an advertisement on defining who is a veteran, so that these individuals would know that there were services available, even though they might have released 20 years ago.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Conservative Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

What is being done to increase the awareness of the programs for the group that's affected?

5:05 p.m.

Team Manager, Client Services, Department of Veterans Affairs

Stéphane Lemieux

As mentioned, last year there were about 20 sites that were visited. I did three in the Quebec area; I did the presentation in Bagotville, Valcartier, and St-Jean. I've also given that presentation to reserve units in the Quebec district office area of operation. So we're getting out there and we're providing more information.

On the other hand, I remember while I was in uniform nobody was pressing on my chain of command the importance to go to some information briefing that was there. I received one prior to leaving for Bosnia, but my mind was set on the deployment, not really on Veterans Affairs Canada.

I think we're getting better in outreach to the Canadian Forces and making sure that the chain of command in the Canadian Forces is supporting us when it's time to go and give presentations. For the one I gave in Bagotville, everybody from the chain of command was present in the room. That shows that the importance of assisting these briefings and getting that information goes from the top down.

A lot of effort is put forward to make sure that we reach out to the reserve units as well. It was mentioned in the other presentation that it's hard to get to them and to get the information to them, but we're pushing forward on that one because that's one of the weakest aspects that we have.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Conservative Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Thank you.

Can you maybe explain or provide more details on how the earnings loss benefit works?

5:05 p.m.

Team Manager, Client Services, Department of Veterans Affairs

Stéphane Lemieux

It's based on the salary of the member when he releases from the forces. It goes on to 75% of the monthly salary he was earning. The problem we had was for soldiers at the rank of private being injured; this is where the 75% was not enough. That's why we came out with the minimum earning loss of $40,000 a year. Basically, the math is done at around 75% of the monthly base salary of the soldier.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Greg Kerr

A very brief one, Mr. Lizon.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Conservative Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

I think I'm a little confused.

Going back to the question that Mr. Stoffer asked you.... From the presentation, I understand that with the new Veterans Charter it's more beneficial to the veterans. I'm a little confused. Why would the situation where someone receives a lump sum be worse than the previous charter?

5:05 p.m.

Team Manager, Client Services, Department of Veterans Affairs

Stéphane Lemieux

It was based on the monthly pension being paid, $700 a month, being indexed every year. That was the comment that was made about the old system being more financially acceptable. However, that pension gets deducted from the 75% earning loss benefit when it's calculated. This is where it....

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Greg Kerr

Okay, your time is up. You're going to have to continue this one after the meeting. I know it might go on.

Mr. Casey, please.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

On your very last slide you have a hypothetical of someone who releases and he's unable to work for four years but then finds a job as an electrician. Do I understand that? Four years after his release....

5:05 p.m.

Team Manager, Client Services, Department of Veterans Affairs

Stéphane Lemieux

Four years after leaving the forces, his injuries that he sustained while he was in the service are affecting his work in civilian life.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Oh, so he worked for four years.

5:05 p.m.

Team Manager, Client Services, Department of Veterans Affairs

Stéphane Lemieux

He worked for four years, but his back problem prevented him from working. So he can come back to us, and since he has some health issues that are service-related, he can enrol in the rehab program and get some professional rehab where he's going to be able to find a new job that respects his physical limitation.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Okay.

He's only entitled to that earnings loss benefit as long as he's in a rehabilitation program, correct?

5:05 p.m.

Team Manager, Client Services, Department of Veterans Affairs

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

All right. At some point, when the department decides that this person is incapable of being rehabilitated, that we've done as much as we can and he is what he is, then what happens to his ELB?

5:05 p.m.

Team Manager, Client Services, Department of Veterans Affairs

Stéphane Lemieux

He's going to maintain it until he is 65 years old if it's assessed that he will not be able to go back to work. That goes to the first example of somebody who's at 80% disability and might not be able to go back to a civilian job.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

If he's unemployable, it continues.

5:10 p.m.

Team Manager, Client Services, Department of Veterans Affairs

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

All right. I just have a couple of other things. You had a slide there entitled “What is available under the New Veterans Charter”. The second-last bullet on the right referenced the death benefit. Is that the $3,600 in burial expenses, or is it something else?

5:10 p.m.

Team Manager, Client Services, Department of Veterans Affairs

Stéphane Lemieux

That's the 100% disability award paid to the survivors if somebody gets killed in the line of duty.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

This is for a serving member, not a veteran.

5:10 p.m.

Team Manager, Client Services, Department of Veterans Affairs

Stéphane Lemieux

It is for a serving member.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

That isn't a benefit available to veterans, the death benefit.