Thank you, Mr. Chair.
As a follow-on to the statement made earlier by the deputy minister regarding the veterans in the public service hiring unit, we've stood up a team in late November and early December. It's very small at the moment, but we have a phased approach to improve the hiring of veterans in the public service. The phased approach looks to Veterans Affairs Canada being a role model, first and foremost. Obviously DND is very experienced, because the Canadian Armed Forces and National Defence work in an integrated fashion.
We are seeking in the next phase to have a positive effect on hiring throughout the entire public service and then to branch out into industry. Also, we know there are a lot of not-for-profits and organizations that are already assisting in this manner.
Since the coming into force of Bill C-27, the Veterans Hiring Act, we have seen some take-up by priority veterans who have been medically released, either for reasons attributable to service or reasons not attributable to service. The Public Service Commission has a mandate to collect data on those veterans, but to date there is no mandatory reporting of hires in the public service who are veterans. For example, at Veterans Affairs Canada we have sent every new employee a voluntary survey. It's still not mandatory to self-identify as a veteran, and I would imagine that some veterans may not wish to do so, but it has improved our reporting.
I can give you some statistics. From the coming into force of the Veterans Hiring Act on July 1, 2015, we had 315 priority hires in the public service, 18 of them within Veterans Affairs Canada. The total of veterans employed at VAC who have self-identified through our survey currently is 115.
We are working with the Public Service Commission to try to improve our ability to collect data on veterans, and we have sent a letter asking to have a question regarding military service added to the public service employee survey.
We're working on several venues, and we haven't finished our work by any means as yet.