Changes to Priority Hiring of Veterans in the Public Service
Ottawa - November 15, 2013
I welcome Minister Fantino’s recent announcement on enhancing federal public service priority hiring of medically releasing Canadian Armed Forces members with service-related injuries/illnesses. The proposed legislation (Bill C-11) deposited before the House of Commons last week has the potential of improving the hiring priority for many Veterans, and that is good news. Also, the expansion of eligibility to all Reservists, including Cadet Organizations, Administration and Training Service personnel and Canadian Rangers is particularly encouraging.
Currently, there are two basic categories in Priority Hiring: Statutory priorities; and Regulatory priorities. Statutory priorities include Public Service employees affected by workforce adjustment. Currently, they have priority over Regulatory priorities, which include Canadian Armed Forces/RCMP members released for medical reasons. However, the changes contained in the proposed legislation mean that Canadian Armed Forces members who are medically released for service-related injuries/illnesses will be raised to the Statutory level, which is the highest priority level in the system. However, those medically released for non-service-related reasons will retain the current Regulatory priority.
In FY 2011/12, there were 496 Veterans registered for federal Public Service priority hiring of which 158 were appointed to the public service. Data can be found at Table 21 in the 2011/12 Public Service Commission Annual Report. With the enactment of the proposed legislation, we should expect to see more appointments in the future.
I do have some concerns, however. For example, when the new legislation is enacted, probably early in 2014, it will mean that someone will have to determine whether medical releases are service-related or not. Currently medically releasing members who serve full-time are eligible for priority hiring as a Regulatory priority, regardless of the reason for the medical release. However, under the new legislation, the system will have to adjudicate an individual’s file to determine if the medical release is related to service or not. This could add additional red tape to the release process and potentially delay the ability to access priority hiring upon release.
In addition it will create separate classes of Veterans for federal priority hiring, exactly what we are striving to avoid. I believe that all medically releasing Canadian Armed Forces members should be treated the same way, because there is an inherent service relationship for every Canadian Armed Forces member who is medically released because the individual can no longer serve in uniform. This was a consideration in the design of New Veterans Charter benefits, such as the Rehabilitation Program, which is available to all medically releasing members, regardless of the reason for the medical release. This was done because it is recognized that losing one’s career as the result of a medical condition is unique to service in the military. However, the proposed legislation does not follow this approach. By elevating the priority for service-related medically releases, but not for non-service-related ones, it creates separate classes of Veterans for priority hiring which will add an additional layer of complexity to an already overburdened system.
Other questions that come to mind are:
- Which department will do this adjudication?
- What documentation will be used in the adjudication process?
- Will benefit of the doubt criteria be established?
- How long will the process take?
- How much visibility will the member have in the process?
- Will there be an appeal process?
- If a decision is made that the medical release is not service-related, will it affect the decision making for other benefit programs, such as, the disability award?
Rest assured that I will monitor closely the implementation of this new legislation from an evidence-based perspective and report back to you.
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