Veterans Ombudsman Urges More Information to Veterans on Disability Benefit Decisions
December 1, 2015
Ottawa, Ontario – Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent released today an assessment of Veterans Affairs Canada’s implementation of the eight recommendations put forth in his 2011 report, Veterans’ Right to Know Reasons for Decisions: A Matter of Procedural Fairness and in his 2012 report, Veterans’ Right to Disclosure: A Matter of Procedural Fairness. The two reports identified areas of improvement needed to ensure transparency and fairness in Veterans Affairs Canada’s disability application and adjudication process.
“Veterans need to know what information is used to make a disability decision in their cases; they need to know how decisions are arrived at; they need to have the results clearly communicated to them; and, they need to understand the impact,” said the Ombudsman. “As a priority, I urge the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Veterans Affairs Canada to provide applicants with a copy of their Service Health Records and all other information that will be considered by adjudicators in rendering disability benefit decisions.”
“Not providing adequate reasons for decisions is contrary to legislative requirements under both the Pension Act and the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Act“, said Mr. Parent. “Furthermore, in terms of how evidence is retrieved, by not ensuring the applicant has a copy of the evidence collected on the applicant’s behalf, the Department is infringing on the applicant’s legislative obligation to substantiate their claim.”
So far, the Department has partially implemented four recommendations made in the 2011 Report, while two of the recommendations in the 2012 Report have been fully implemented, and two have not been implemented at all.
“This assessment is a snapshot in time,” said Mr. Parent, “While Veterans Affairs Canada continues to make improvements, there is more to do. I am hopeful that through Veterans Affairs Canada’s new Veteran-centric Communications Task Force, which is examining how the Department communicates with Veterans, the concerns identified in my Follow-up Report will be addressed in full. This would result in fairer treatment for Veterans and fewer decisions being subject to time-consuming and costly appeals.”
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