Thank you very much.
Mr. Chair, ladies and gentlemen of the committee, good morning.
My name is Frédéric Charlet, controller general of the armed forces. I am the assistant to the executive director of the Office national des anciens combattants et victimes de guerre. She could not be here this afternoon because she is with young students at Notre-Dame de Lorette, one of our largest war cemeteries, located not far from here.
So the director is at Notre-Dame de Lorette today, a site you are familiar with, because it is close to Vimy. I also believe that some of you accompanied the Prime Minister for the commemoration activities last summer.
Before we get to the substance of the issue, I would like to say a few words about the Office national des anciens combattants et victimes de guerre, or ONACVG.
It will help to know that this is a public institution that today is part of the Ministère des Armées. It now falls under the Ministère des Armées. It is actually the result of the merger of three offices. The first, the Office national des mutilés et réformés, was established in 1916, during the Great War. ONACVG is also a descendant of the Office national des pupilles de la nation. This was also established during the Great War, in 1917. To this very day, France has this very special ability to care for the children of those killed or wounded in military operations, by the country adopting them. We can come back to that later, if you wish. The third and final office that was absorbed into the Office national des anciens combattants et victimes de guerre is the Office national du combattant, established in 1926, whose mission was transferred to ONACVG in 1945.
I feel that it is important to point out that ONACVG today cares for about 2.6 million people that we call “ressortissants”. Keep that figure in mind. Of course, among the 2.6 million, there are no longer any veterans from the First World War, “poilus”, as we call them in France. However, we still have tens of thousands of veterans from the Second World War and many veterans from the Indochina War. Today, those who swell the ranks of our veterans, if I may put it that way, are the professionals and the conscripts whom France sent to fight in Algeria between 1954 and 1962.
Finally, and not for long, we have been welcoming and caring for what we call in France the fourth combat generation, by which we mean all those who, since 1962, have served in external operations in Africa and the Near East, as well as those who are still in theatre on external operations today.
Since 1993, our office has issued more than 150,000 veteran's cards to those who have fought in external operations. Today, that is one of the major focuses of our office's work. I feel that is important to talk about the numbers of people, both veterans and war victims, that our office cares for, as well as describing their diversity.
The second factor to consider is the parity of representation in the management of our office. Certainly, it operates with public funds, but it has a board of directors on which veterans' associations are represented. They quite literally have the most votes. That is why the office is managed in a way we refer to as parity-based.
There is a third and final factor that I feel is important. I also feel that it is a problem Canada can perhaps relate to. Today, our office still has quite a dense network, since we provide services in every region of our country, and also in North Africa. We have about 105 neighbourhood service outlets that can receive veterans and their families at the same time, and respond in person to the concerns of veterans of all combat generations, in particular those who have served in external operations.
I have more or less gone over the points I wanted to bring up by way of introduction. I will step aside for Commissioner Alexandre Coyo, who will be able to flesh out my remarks and deal with other subjects.