Letter from the Minister

Ottawa, ON - May 30, 2017

Chief Warrant Officer (Ret’d) Guy Parent, OMM, CD
Veterans Ombudsman
Suite 1560
360 Albert Street
Ottawa, Ontario  K1R 7X7

 

Dear Chief Warrant Officer Parent:

Thank you sharing The Actuarial Analysis: Follow-Up Report with me on March 3, 2016. I am pleased to see how the report highlights many of the positive steps we have taken over the past few years to improve supports to Veterans and their families.

As evidenced by enhancements brought forward as part of Budget 2016 and Budget 2017, our Government has helped to ensure that Veterans and their families receive the care, compassion and respect they deserve. We have worked very hard to increase the financial support that Veterans and Survivors need as they transition to civilian life, and, at the same time, have enhanced lifelong financial support for the ill and injured.

I would like to take this opportunity to respond to each of the recommendations contained in a The Actuarial Analysis: Follow-Up Report and illustrate how we will continue to improve supports for Veterans and Survivors.

Recommendation 1: That the Minister of Veterans Affairs, by 1 April 2019, consolidate financial benefits to reduce complexity and better address the financial needs of Veterans and survivors.

We accept this recommendation, as noted in Budget 2017, financial supports for disabled Veterans remain unnecessarily complex and Veterans deserve a simple and straightforward benefits system that meets their needs. Moving forward, the Government will work to streamline and simplify these programs. Further, we will work with the Department of National Defence to address overlaps between our support programs.

Recommendation 2: That VAC assess the level of financial support it provides to Veterans who are not TPI to ensure that their financial needs are being met and publish the results of that assessment by 1 April 2018.

We accept this recommendation. The results of a comprehensive survey of Canadian Armed Forces Veterans will be released later this year as part of our Life after Service program of research. These results will include analysis of the financial wellbeing of all Veterans, including those who are not Totally and Permanently Incapacitated. It is important to note that best-practices in disability management point to a need to focus on labour-market engagement to improve income adequacy and well-being and we are putting emphasis on that as well. Budget 2017 included a number of new benefits to encourage and support labour-market engagement including the Education Benefit and changes to Career Transition Services and Rehabilitation Services. Together, these benefits will help ensure greater support to meet the individual needs of Veterans and their families.

Recommendation 3: That VAC assess the level of financial support it provides to survivors to ensure that their lifelong financial needs are being met and publish the results of that assessment by 1 April 2018.

We accept this recommendation. As noted in the Aon Hewitt report, financial support to survivors exceeds that of other programs, particularly given the recent increase in Earnings Loss Benefits. As a result of your recommendation and recognizing more information on survivors is needed, we will undertake a study to determine the extent to which survivors may be at risk of low income.

Recommendation 4: That VAC review when financial benefits are being delivered to Veterans and their survivors to ensure that their financial needs are being met and publish by 1 April 2018 the benchmarks used to measure that financial support.

We accept this recommendation. In accordance with the implementation of Treasury Board’s Policy on Results, we will publish the performance indicators and measurement criteria for financial benefits prior to April 1, 2018.

I would like to thank you for the work that you do to advance issues affecting Veterans and their families and look forward to our continued collaboration.

Sincerely,

 

The Honourable Kent Hehr, PC, MP

Read Minister Hehr's original letter

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