An Area of Major Dissatisfaction

Ottawa - September 14, 2011

Last year almost 8 percent of our total complaints, 137 of 1823 cases, were on the decisions arising from the Veterans Review and Appeal Board (VRAB).


In fact VRAB complaints were rated as number five in the Office’s top seven issues that caused Veterans concern.  

For the most part, the Office can do very little with regards to an individual decision as the Order in Council that established the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman does not allow the Ombudsman to 'review any decision of the Board'.  However, the Order in Council does allow the Ombudsman 'to review systemic issues related to the Board'.  So although the Office couldn’t help individual Veterans complaining about the decision they received from VRAB, the Office has been keeping track of those complaints and looking at them to determine if these individual decisions point to a larger problem that affects all Veterans (a systemic issue).  One of the things we did notice was the number of Veterans that have had to go to Federal Court multiple times for the same issue.

Accordingly, since May of this year, the Office has been working on conducting a systemic investigation of Veterans Review and Appeal Board decisions that have been the subject of Judicial Review in the Federal Court.  After many months of preliminary work, the contract was finally awarded on Friday, August 12, 2011 to the law firm of Borden, Ladner and Gervais and the work has begun. The statement of work provides for a review of these VRAB decisions and will include an analysis of the consistency of decisions, an assessment of the evidence as well as identify any legal trends.  In addition, the review will also identify systemic issues having a negative impact on veterans.  

The work is scheduled to be completed by the end of October 2011. Affected parties will be provided a copy of the draft report for comment prior to publication and the report will be published 60 days after it has been submitted to the Minister.

I believe this report is timely and I look forward to sharing with you the findings of this systemic investigation which should provide an objective review of a major area of concern for Veterans that is now starting to receive public scrutiny.

For additional information: http://www.vrab-tacra.gc.ca/Facts/Applications-demande-eng.cfm.

Guy Parent

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Comments

Jim L said:

About 4or5 years ago I sent in my stuff to be reviewed & I have yet to hear from you!

August 27, 2012 2:55 PM

Office of the Veterans Ombudsman

Please call the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman at 1-877-330-4343 (toll free number) to discuss your case.

September 17, 2012 8:52 AM

Bureau de l'ombudsman des vétérans said:

Depuis que nous avons affiché sur notre site Web, le 14 septembre 2011, le blogue intitulé « Source de profonde insatisfaction », nous avons reçu beaucoup de questions concernant le cabinet d’avocats Borden Ladner Gervais S.E.N.C.R.L., S.R.L. (BLG) qui a entrepris l’examen systémique des décisions du Tribunal des anciens combattants (révision et appel) qui ont fait l’objet d’une révision judiciaire par la Cour fédérale. 

Comptant plus de 750 avocats, agents de propriété intellectuelle et autres professionnels établis dans six grandes villes canadiennes, BLG est le cabinet d’avocats à service complet le plus important au Canada se concentrant sur le droit des affaires, les litiges et la propriété intellectuelle. BLG offre des services bilingues dans pratiquement tous les domaines du droit et représente un large éventail d’organismes régionaux, nationaux et multinationaux. Pour avoir plus de détails, visitez le site blg.com.

BLG est tout à fait indépendant du Bureau de l’ombudsman des vétérans, d’Anciens Combattants Canada et du Tribunal. Le cabinet a confirmé qu’il n’a aucun conflit d’intérêts avec ces derniers.

L’un des critères d’évaluation utilisés pour choisir le cabinet d’avocats externe a été son expérience auprès des vétérans. En effet, BLG a acquis une expérience considérable en représentant des vétérans demandant à la Cour fédérale du Canada de réviser une décision du Tribunal. Notamment, le 21 septembre 2011, la publication Lexpert a remis à BLG un prix Zenith 2011, soulignant la responsabilité sociétale des entreprises et la responsabilité sociale, pour sa représentation bénévole de vétérans qui n’avaient pas eu gain de cause devant le Tribunal des anciens combattants (révision et appel), ce qui leur a permis de demander à la Cour fédérale de procéder à l’examen judiciaire des décisions du Tribunal.

BLG sera payé par le Bureau de l’ombudsman des vétérans.

October 17, 2011 5:45 PM

Office of the Veterans Ombudsman said:

In response to the blog An Area of Major Dissatisfaction, posted on our Web site on September 14, we have received questions about the law firm Borden, Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG) that is undertaking a systemic investigation of Veterans Review and Appeal Board (VRAB) decisions that have been the subject of Judicial Review in the Federal Court.

With more than 750 lawyers, intellectual property agents, and other professionals working in six major Canadian cities, BLG is the largest Canadian full-service law firm focusing on business law, litigation and intellectual property solutions. BLG provides bilingual services in virtually every area of law, and represents a wide range of regional, national and multinational organizations. For further information, visit blg.com

BLG is completely independent from the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman, from Veterans Affairs Canada and from the VRAB. BLG has confirmed that they are not in a conflict of interest.

One of the evaluation criteria for selection of the external law firm was their previous experience working with Veterans. BLG has considerable experience acting on behalf of veterans seeking judicial review of VRAB decisions to the Federal Court of Canada. Notably, on September 21, 2011 BLG received a 2011 Lexpert Zenith Award celebrating corporate and social responsibility for their pro bono representation of Veterans who were unsuccessful before the Veterans Review and Appeal Board, enabling them to seek judicial review of the Board's decisions before the Federal Court.

BLG will be paid by the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman.

October 17, 2011 4:55 PM

Ron Cundell said:

Glad to see that the OVO is getting a independent 3rd party assessment on VRAB. The only thing I don't like is the 60 day period the Minister has before the Ombudsman can release the report to the public. So Minister Blaney over the last 3/4 years veterans have been called "stakeholders". So as the government head of all stakeholders do not use your 60 days to release the investigation. Be transparent, like your politiacal party states they want to be, and wave the 60 day wait period and allow the Ombudsman to release the findings to the public. Mr. Parent when the results are sent to the Minister please inform us stakeholders that you have done so via a quick blog or email to all veteran organizations. That way we stakeholders can "urge" the Minister to immediately waive the 60 day wait period. Afterall if this issue is "starting to recieve public scrutiny" shouldn't the answers be more spontaneous then rehearsed?

September 16, 2011 4:33 PM

Office of the Veterans Ombudsman

Please be assured that we will inform our stakeholders when the report is sent to the Minister.

September 26, 2011 3:14 PM