Highlights from outreach in Yellowknife
Ottawa, ON - September 15, 2017
Visiting Veterans across the country to hear their concerns is very important to me. This past week, my team and I were in Yellowknife where we hosted two Town Halls and a Stakeholder Meeting. We were also able to offer one-on-one consultations to Veterans wishing to discuss their files in-person with a representative from my Office. After hearing the concerns of the community, I was also able to speak with Yellowknife’s Mayor, Mark Heyck, about the needs of Veterans in his constituency.
The Stakeholder Meeting
The major issues discussed at the stakeholder meeting were communication, namely how hard it is to access information about benefits and services due to the unique geographical challenges of people “on the ground” in the North, and the complexity of figuring out who is eligible for which benefits.
The Town Hall at the Headquarters of the Joint Task Force (North)
With approximately 100 members in attendance, many of them Rangers, some wondered whether their benefits would be in place upon their release. They also asked for tips on submitting a successful application to VAC, and what treatments or benefits were available through VAC. There were also many who wanted more information about the education benefit which comes into effect in April.
Town Hall the evening of September 6
The discussion centered on turnaround times and benefit eligibility. Attendees shared concerns about how challenging it could be to figure out which benefits they were eligible for, and they noted that the information they have is mostly word-of-mouth from people they know who have accessed benefits in the past. “How do I make sure my application is bullet proof?” someone asked, “No one helps us.” Many felt like they were at a disadvantage in planning their transition to civilian life because of the lack of information. It was also noted that t serving members receiving VAC benefits are too often still stigmatized.
My team is currently in the process of planning the dates and locations of my next Town Halls. For those of you who attended my stakeholder meeting or Town Halls, thank you for sharing your concerns.
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