Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good afternoon. My name is Maureen Sinnott. I am the director of strategic and enabling initiatives in the service delivery and program management division. I'm here today with Raymond Lalonde, director of the operational stress injuries national network, and Derek Sullivan, director general of Canada Remembers.
We're here to share with you how partnerships are integral to improving our service delivery to veterans. They allow us to extend our reach, leverage expertise, focus on our mandate, and build upon best practices of other organizations.
A recent and significant example of partnerships is VAC's leveraging of other government departments' success with the business process redesign. A business process redesign is an organized approach to updating operational processes. It can make a process more efficient, effective, and timely, which in turn improves service delivery and helps meet client expectations.
Other government departments have had great success using this approach. For example, the old social insurance number application process has been greatly simplified. The wait time to obtain a SIN went from about three to four weeks to less than one hour.
Over the past two years, our department has engaged in a knowledge transfer with other government departments to build our own centre of expertise within the department and to apply the methodology to VAC programs. The department has applied the methodology to the Disability First application process. It is currently piloting a redesigned, streamlined process for hearing loss claims.
We continue to explore ways to reduce our turnaround times for decisions, to streamline our processes, and to cut more red tape.
As you heard in David Robinson's opening remarks on the transformation agenda, we're also overhauling our service delivery by moving from paper-based to electronic processes wherever possible. We are optimizing our use of technology to reduce manual processes and the paper burden, and to improve accessibility, while protecting privacy.
We have a partnership with the Department of National Defence that allows VAC access to paper-based service health records on Canadian Forces bases. We're moving toward scanning and electronically transferring service health records from CF bases to VAC offices, in a secure environment.
We have a long-standing partnership with Library and Archives Canada that allows us access to archived service and health records. To enable the conversion of Library and Archives Canada's paper-based records to electronic records on VAC's systems, we partnered with Public Works and Government Services Canada to scan service and health records into electronic, searchable format. Over two million pages were scanned and digitized within the first year.
We're working with PWGSC to scan and digitize all incoming VAC mail and to electronically transmit the mail to VAC.
These few examples demonstrate how VAC is working with its partners in the public service to improve the use of technology and to make information available electronically. This will result in faster turnaround times for decisions.
Partnerships at the local level help us reach veterans in their communities. For example, VAC has established three homeless veterans initiatives in Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto. These are dependant upon partnerships with community organizations such as the Royal Canadian Legion, Wounded Warriors, the Veterans Memorial Manor, and the Good Shepherd Ministries. The partnership between VAC and the Department of National Defence for the operational stress injury social support network is also key in many communities.
VAC's front-line staff must be knowledgeable about the local and provincial services available to support veterans and meet their needs. Coordination at all levels promotes a shared philosophy for care and improved outcomes for veterans and their families.
VAC is also using partnerships to ensure continuous improvement and the ongoing development of best practices in case management. VAC has well-established partnerships with McMaster University, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and the National Case Management Network. We share best practices through research, knowledge exchange, and joint learning.
This year, the Helmets to Hardhats partnership will become operational. The partnership has been operating effectively in the United States, and the Government of Canada is supporting a Canadian program. The objective of the program is to provide releasing CF members with opportunities for jobs and apprenticeships in the construction industry using a web-based job-matching service. This is an opportunity for veterans to apply skills they developed in the Canadian Forces to employment opportunities outside the forces.
Before I close, I'd like to note that to meet its goal of ensuring the seamless transition from military to civilian life, the department relies on its long-standing and evolving partnership with DND. The partnership is guided by a VAC/DND steering committee that identifies and manages joint priorities of both departments.
One of the best examples of our working partnership with DND is the 24 integrated personnel support centres across the country. These centres promote early intervention and engagement by VAC's case managers, and they work to ensure a seamless transition for CF members as they release from the military. As Charlotte Stewart previously mentioned, these centres are located near DND bases, with approximately 100 VAC staff co-located with DND staff.
I'll now turn to Raymond Lalonde to introduce the national operational stress injury clinic network.