Evidence of meeting #42 for Veterans Affairs in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was work.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Bronwen Evans  President, True Patriot Love Foundation
Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Jean-François Pagé

9:05 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Conservative Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Yes, I know. That's completely understandable.

That's why I am asking. Your answer is what I thought. As an MP, I can ask to have a look at the unilingual document, if that's what I choose?

9:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Royal Galipeau

Ms. Evans, I want to assure you that the burden of translating the document does not belong to you. It belongs to us.

I apologize for the disturbance. According to the Official Languages Act, you can't distribute it, but individual MPs can go and ask for it.

9:05 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Conservative Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

May I have a copy, please?

9:05 a.m.

President, True Patriot Love Foundation

Bronwen Evans

You may have a copy.

Sorry, maybe what I'll just do then is....

9:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Royal Galipeau

Go ahead. We're leaving after 10 o'clock. We're going to be called for votes. There will be bells for votes at 10, and I think we have half an hour to get upstairs, and there are 24 steps to get upstairs.

Take your time.

9:05 a.m.

President, True Patriot Love Foundation

Bronwen Evans

All right.

I was talking about the CanVet program. Really, the deficiency we see there is that there's no outreach made by CanVet staff to potential employers.

By comparison, there is a program outside of government that I want to draw your attention to. It's run by an organization called Prospect, which is located in Edmonton. They are a national organization. They originally came about after the Second World War when there was a need to reintegrate veterans into the regular workforce. Following the Second World War when that need decreased, they took on the mandate as an organization to help groups of people who were under-represented in the workplace, such as, immigrants, women, and people with disabilities, to get employment.

Given their original mandate, they have started to take an interest again in the veteran population. They did a pilot that's been going on now for about a year and a half or two years with the joint personnel support unit out of the Edmonton base. I don't know if everybody knows what the joint personnel support unit does, but essentially they have what's called a return-to-work program. If you're a serving member and for whatever reason are unable to perform your regular duties, you go to the JPSU, and they work with you on either bringing you back inside the military, back to the job you had, or another job within the military, or they help you transition out.

What ended up happening with the JPSU in Edmonton was they contracted with Prospect and started up what was called the forces at work program. Originally this program, for about the first year and a half, was funded by the Military Families Fund. You probably all know what that is. It's a quasi-charity that exists within the Department of National Defence.

Coming out of that, the results they achieved were astounding. From the first pilot they had 121 referrals—these are ill and injured veterans—of which 88% were accepted into the program. There was a placement rate of 85% of those veterans: 70% were placed into paying jobs within three months; 88% were placed within less than six months. Of all those who were placed, 96% said they met or exceeded their career goals. Also, there's been a 95% retention rate in terms of keeping them in their jobs.

Now, what's different about Prospect as, say, compared to CanVet, is that their approach engages the employer from the get-go. Prospect has a database of 700 employers in the area that they work with on a regular basis for placement. They also work with 31 industry associations across Alberta.

Partly what makes this program so successful is the post-placement follow-up they do. Not only do they engage the employer and prepare the employer for the employees they are about to receive, but they also do a considerable amount of work with both the employer and the individual who's been placed following the placement. For example, I've heard stories like these from Prospect many times. There might be somebody who is dealing with some mental health issues and is driving into the office and thinking, “I don't know if I can handle this today. I'm not feeling well today. This isn't a good day for me.” Well, the person can pick up the phone and call somebody at Prospect who will talk them through what they are feeling, help them with their coping strategies, and get them into the office.

It's turned out to be quite a good program, but unfortunately, the Military Families Fund doesn't have money for this program anymore. When their funding ended with the Military Families Fund, we were approached by the chief of military personnel. He approached me and said, “Would you consider looking at this program for funding? We've been quite impressed with the work that they've done.”

We've looked at it. As an organization, we have agreed to provide them with $250,000 this year so that they can continue their Edmonton project.

Our goal though is to provide them with seed funding over the next three years so that they can bring their program national and so that soldiers who are ill and injured across the country can benefit from this and move into meaningful employment.

One of the important reasons for bringing them national is not only does it benefit more veterans, but also, as we understand it, once they establish a national presence, they may be eligible for government funding. They may be eligible to become an official service provider for either Veterans Affairs or the Department of National Defence.

It's our hope that we get to that point. In terms of all the different programs we have seen out there, we do believe that this one is the most promising for dealing with this vulnerable population.

I'm happy to take your questions.

9:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Royal Galipeau

The first person who will be happy to ask questions is Mr. Stoffer.

March 26th, 2015 / 9:15 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I don't have any questions, Ms. Evans. I just want to personally thank you and your organization for the tremendous work you've done since 2009. I've been to many of your dinners across the country, and they're an incredible amount of fun.

Great money is raised for the wonderful projects that you do. I'm sure on behalf of all veterans and their families, thank you for the great work that you do.

I have one small question about RCMP veterans. Do you ever outreach to them in your charitable work to assist them in transition to employment as well?

9:15 a.m.

President, True Patriot Love Foundation

Bronwen Evans

We haven't done that. Early on as an organization we wondered whether we should be looking at police or firemen. We decided that we wanted to keep our focus quite narrow because there was nothing much really being done in this space.

Having said that, we do recognize, especially when it comes, say, to post-traumatic stress disorder, that it isn't something that's unique to the military. It's the kind of thing I think we would be open to talking about if there was something that was felt we could be doing in the space with the RCMP specifically.

9:15 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Thank you very much.

9:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Royal Galipeau

Thank you very much.

Mr. Hayes.

9:15 a.m.

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Conservative Sault Ste. Marie, ON

I understand that you're set up similar to the United Way, so maybe this doesn't apply. I'm from the riding of Sault Ste. Marie and I don't know how many military charitable support organizations there are in the Sault that actually True Patriot Love might be funding. There may be none.

That being said, I would like to understand the criteria for individuals in terms of determining their eligibility for funding. Do you establish a set criteria for the organizations that they have to follow, or does each organization independently have their own set of criteria to determine whether or not they're going to fund an individual?

I just want to wrap my head around that.

9:15 a.m.

President, True Patriot Love Foundation

Bronwen Evans

We don't fund individuals. If somebody were to come to us and saying that they need funding because their child has special needs, we aren't set up to do that kind of evaluation. In that case we would provide the money to the Military Families Fund, which has staff who have certain criteria for determining eligibility. They also have a good sense of the need across the country in that particular area, so they can figure out a fair way of distributing the money such that they don't give it all to one person with nothing left for anybody else.

As to our process for funding the various charities, we have a couple of specific funds. One is called the Bell True Patriot Love fund. It's a partnership that we have with Bell Canada whereby every year we provide a quarter of a million dollars to community-based mental health programs that support veterans and their families. These can be anywhere in the country. We put out a call for applications. We go through all the military family resources centres. We put it online. We have done advertising in some of the military magazines. Any organization, provided they have charitable status, can apply for funding for that.

I would say that about half of it ends up in programs through the military family resource centres. There are other programs completely outside of this that receive funding too. We're always looking for more of these to come in, because we think it's an important area to fund. So there's that.

We also have a program with Scotiabank. It's a similar type of program. The focus there is specifically upon ill and injured veterans—less on the family piece and more on the veteran. We fund some of the adaptive ski programs through that program. We also do some of the mental health programs through it.

There is an Outward Bound program for veterans. There is the Veterans Transition Network, which is a program run out of UBC around the country now. There's the Prince's Operation Entrepreneur. We have set applications for those. Then generally speaking, we also run a general application process at some point during the year, when anybody can submit. The criteria are online, and there is a form to fill out. Usually it involves some telephone conversations too, just to get a better sense.

We try to work hard, because many of these are small organizations and don't have a lot of resources to put together applications. We're quite happy to work with the organizations on their applications too, to help make them successful.

9:20 a.m.

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Conservative Sault Ste. Marie, ON

As MPs, I think we would be a very good source to help promote some of this. If I knew that you had an application process that was pending.... We have advertising resources.

9:20 a.m.

President, True Patriot Love Foundation

Bronwen Evans

That's a good point.

9:20 a.m.

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Conservative Sault Ste. Marie, ON

My goodness, I'd love to be advertising those services.

9:20 a.m.

President, True Patriot Love Foundation

Bronwen Evans

I will make sure.... I guess it would be through householders and—

9:20 a.m.

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Conservative Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Absolutely, and websites, 100%.

9:20 a.m.

President, True Patriot Love Foundation

Bronwen Evans

We would greatly appreciate that.

9:20 a.m.

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Conservative Sault Ste. Marie, ON

I'm sure all MPs would be all over this.

That's good for me, Mr. Chair. I'm happy with that.

9:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Royal Galipeau

Mr. Valeriote.

9:20 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Thank you, Ms. Evans, for appearing. I have a bunch of questions so I'm going to ask you to keep your answers as short as possible.

You said that 70% do not qualify for VAC because they aren't in the system for VAC programs, and 30% are in the VAC programs. Is that because these people who were medically released applied and were turned down for some reason, or did they just not bother to apply?

9:20 a.m.

President, True Patriot Love Foundation

Bronwen Evans

I don't know, but if I had to guess, I would think that many just haven't bothered to apply. I honestly don't know the answer to that.

9:20 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Is there a way for you to find out, and if you could, could you let us know?

9:20 a.m.

President, True Patriot Love Foundation

Bronwen Evans

Certainly, I could ask.