A Disappointing Update to ACVA’s Recommendations

Ottawa, Ontario – February 3, 2015

Late on January 30th, 2015, the Minister of Veterans Affairs provided an update to the Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs (ACVA) on the progress made to date by Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) to address the 14 recommendations from the Committee’s June 2014 report, The New Veterans Charter: Moving Forward.

While I am satisfied that progress is being made in areas such as improving transition support and processes, counseling and training, research and access to family services, I’m disappointed that the update provides no details on how the substantive deficiencies with the New Veterans Charter (NVC) are to be addressed.

As I have said before, the five priorities that need to be fixed to ensure that the NVC properly supports Veterans and their families are:

  • Financial Security after age 65,
  • Better access to allowances for those with the greatest need,
  • Income support equity for Veterans who served as reservists,
  • Better support for families, and
  • Improved income support during rehabilitation and transition.

I acknowledge that these substantive issues are complex by nature, but we’re not starting from scratch. Much research has been done and many reports have focussed on them. Now VAC needs to act. Further consultation is not needed.

Our ill and injured Veterans and their families have been waiting a long time for such action. Their expectations were high that the Government’s update would signal some tangible commitment on these key substantive issues. But, such was not the case. Like many of them, I am disappointed because all we have received are vague assurances that something is going to happen.

I certainly give the new Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Hon. Erin O’Toole, the benefit of the doubt at this moment. He has stated that under his leadership "every part of Veterans Affairs has to be Veteran-focussed and Veteran-centric" – and I agree with him on that. But, it’s time to start sharing with the Veterans’ community how they are going to solve the deficiencies of the NVC…and when.

Not every solution to these substantive issues has to be tied to Budget 2015. Some of the solutions to NVC shortcomings could be rolled out incrementally.

The Government has had for well over a year the facts and figures necessary to chart the way ahead. It has the ability to take immediate and definitive action.

Let’s get it done!

Guy Parent

Veterans Ombudsman

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Comments

Oldsilverback said:

So almost a year has passed and to my knowledge nothing has been addressed. Will the OBud be providing an update on these issues? The current government promised real change but it appears no action- talk only.

January 29, 2016 3:43 PM

Michelle Martineau said:

Je suis moi aussi déçue par le peu de soutien accordé aux aidantes naturelles autant physique que psychologiquement. J'ai dû me battre pendant 10 ans pour obtenir de l'aide au niveau de l'entretien ménager. Malgré le fait que je souffrais de fibromyalgie, de faiiscites plantaires, et de douleurs sciatiques. J'ai fini par l'obtenir parce que j'ai développé un cancer et que j'ai dû recevoir un traitement de chimio et de radiothérapie. Depuis l'an passé je me bats pour obtenir un suivi psychologique dans ma ville (40, 000 hab.) Je pourrais en obtenir un mais par Santé Canada mais je devrais faire un aller-retour de 1 h 30 (l'été). J'ai pas le temps avec tout ce que j'ai à faire. Ce suivi me serait bénéfique puisque depuis 2010 que je vis avec une personne souffrant d'une dépression unipolaire sévère réfractaire (avec perte cognitive de 40 %). Dernièrement, nous avons demandé une thérapie de couple. L'agente de cas a demandé au fournisseur de s'assurer que cette demande venait bien de Monsieur et non de Madame. Hey! ça se peux-tu qu'avec tous les changements qu'il y a eu depuis presque 5 ans dans notre vie que nous ayons besoin de rajustements au niveau du couple et aussi au niveau sexuel. Cette demande à été fait pour s'assurer que nous sommes toujours sur la même longueur d'ondes et pour s'assurer que notre couple demeure solide face aux épreuves que nous vivons. Pour l'instant, je dois me contenter de 6 consultations téléphoniques. J'aurais bien aimé sortir et discuter avec quelqu'un de nos problèmes. C'est pas évident d'en discuter de droite à gauche, surtout des problèmes sexuels, car les gens ont déjà suffisamment peur de se tenir avec des handicapés. J'aimerais qu'on fasse un effort supplémentaire pour les gens qui ne demeurent pas dans les grands centres urbains. Il me semble que dans une ville de plus de 40,000 habitants qu'il serait tout à fait possible en abaissant vos critères de trouver quelqu'un. Quand à la thérapie de couple, nous avons trouvé et nous espérons qu'il sera accepté même si la demande vient de moi.

May 28, 2015 10:13 AM

Office of the Veterans Ombudsman

Thank you for your message Ms. Martineau. We are sorry to hear about your situation and encourage you to contact us directly at 1-877-330-4343 so we can learn more about your case and do our best to assist. 

June 5, 2015 11:34 AM

Clayton said:

With reference to those permanently disabled veterans losing SISIP LTD & CPP Disability at age 65, are they eligible for RISB? For example, I'm VA disabled at 87% and currently worried about when I reach 65. I find things difficult now and not sure how I and other veterans in my position will make ends meet. I've contact the VAC Minister and all his replies never directly answered the question or responded with may or might. This tells me the answer is NO but he doesn't want to admit it. The office of the Ombudsman stated on 10 March, 2015 that he was looking into this concern. Is there an answer yet? The government is putting a small bandage on a large problem and dividing disabled vets into two groups.

April 19, 2015 2:35 PM

kevin said:

Previous thread: I have been disabled for 12 years with a spinal cord injury and have not been able to contribute to a pension plan, nor could I afford to.. Because my earnings are earnings loss, they also do not qualify as earnings that qualify me to make RRSP contributions.. What happens when I reach 65? I'll have nothing! Previous thread: February 26, 2015 11:38 AM Office of the Veterans Ombudsman Hi Kevin, I encourage you to call us directly at 1-877-330-4343 to discuss the particulars of your case if you have not already done so. We will do our best to assist. February 26, 2015 4:33 PM Reply: I've tried contacting your office a couple of times, asking about the newly proposed, continued benefit after 65.. and no one had any answers for me.. I have, however; just read the bill and it does, in fact, leave me out in the cold after 65. I championed the NVC because it seemed as though it did allow for the benefit of doubt, and providing me with earnings loss and the possibility of rehabilitation; however; after reading the proposed bill, there is no doubt now that after 65, without a pension or award. The dept. will leave off any further for me. And in the mean time, I have no access to programs that will contribute to retirement savings, RRSP's and the like.. I don't understand why there was a will to assist those veterans who were not able to follow a rehabilitation program, to the age of 65.. yet now, that benefit of doubt and will to provide assistance to injured vets.. is only afforded to the "real veteran's. I was never the same after my service and I left because I knew I was starting to have problems.. and I served at a time where we just didn't whine or complain.. you did your job or got out.. Anyhow.. now I have a whole new worry again, knowing it all ends for me after 65.

April 3, 2015 8:13 PM

Rob. S said:

What has been announced in the past few weeks is a wonderful step forward. Keep up the good work Guy Parent and all Veterans Groups. Every step forward is a step in getting things for Veterans improved. I for one Thank You for the work being done on my behalf. Thank You and Bravo Zulu.

April 1, 2015 9:59 AM

Office of the Veterans Ombudsman

Thank you very much for your kind words, they are greatly appreciated by my team and I. I agree that each step forward for Veterans is a positive one. It is the collective effort of all involved that is to thank for the recent changes.  

 

April 2, 2015 12:29 PM

Anonymous said:

What happens when severe disabled veterans who receive Sisip ltd and have been deemed TPI at age 65 do? With this new RISB announced it leaves out many veterans who will lose there Sisip ltd at age 65. Many of these veterans collect PA pensions at the 100 percent rate but at age 65 will lose their income replacement. Will they beable to get the new RISB or will they have to apply for EELB?

March 9, 2015 10:12 PM

Office of the Veterans Ombudsman

We are still waiting to be briefed on the technical details of how the Retirement Income Security Benefit will be calculated and administered. We have already raised the issue of eligibility for SISIP clients and we are waiting for a response. In fact your question was one of the questions we asked. Once we know more on the eligibility we will let you know on this platform. Thank you for your interest and for keeping the dialogue going.

March 10, 2015 4:23 PM

kevin said:

I have been disabled for 12 years with a spinal cord injury and have not been able to contribute to a pension plan, nor could I afford to.. Because my earnings are earnings loss, they also do not qualify as earnings that qualify me to make RRSP contributions.. What happens when I reach 65? I'll have nothing!

February 26, 2015 11:38 AM

Office of the Veterans Ombudsman

Hi Kevin, I encourage you to call us directly at 1-877-330-4343 to discuss the particulars of your case if you have not already done so. We will do our best to assist.

February 26, 2015 4:33 PM

Murray said:

I am sure Guy that you must feel frustrated with the no action policy on the critical improvements required as outlined by yourself such as age 65 and earning loss etc. I see more turmoil now then I have seen in long time. At the moment the Minister holds the key and moving forward...I have a lifetime of rejection from VAC and nothing can replace those terrible feelings surrounding Rejected applications...I can only say that I know how you feel and thousands of Veterans know it as well. I have lost whatever fight I had remaining as I am sure many Other Veterans have. I could not work for 15 years because of my pensioned disability. When I turn 65 then what? Thank you for doing your best, but I have lost all my fight and I surrender and give up as I have never felt so defeated...I hope that eventually the Veterans will get all the recommendations that all involved put forward.

February 14, 2015 11:06 PM