My Five Years as Veterans Ombudsman

July 9, 2015

Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent released today his personal perspective on his role as Veterans Ombudsman from 2010 to 2015. In My Five Years as Veterans Ombudsman: Narrowing the Gap for Veterans and their Families, he highlights the events that are redefining the relationship between Veterans and their families and the Government of Canada in the post-Afghanistan era.

From the early challenges of his mandate to the future needs of Veterans and their families, the Ombudsman covers a wide range of topics. Among others, he discusses the decision he made with his team to establish a five-year campaign plan with the theme of One Veteran as its strategic focus; the decision to measure results against a fairness standard of adequacy, sufficiency and accessibility; and, the decision to release only evidence-based analysis on Veterans’ issues.

Since the Ombudsman’s appointment on November 11, 2010, the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman has received over 25,000 calls, emails, letters and faxes from Veterans and their families struggling to have their needs met. “The situations are seldom simple, are generally emotionally-charged and affect real people with real issues. If the problems were easy to fix, it would have already happened. So, for many Veterans, we are their last hope to resolve an issue,” reflected Mr. Parent.

In addition to releasing 10 reviews and reports during his time in office to date, the Ombudsman spearheaded a concerted effort for a comprehensive parliamentary review of the New Veterans Charter. After extensive consultation with stakeholders, the release of a Review of the Charter in the spring of 2013, followed by a Report  with recommendations and an Actuarial Analysis in the fall of 2013, the Government announced a full review by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. The Committee’s Report, released in June 2014, resulted in a series of announcements by the Minister of Veterans Affairs that have narrowed the gap between Veterans’ programs and Veterans’ needs – but not closed it.

“Much has been accomplished in recent years, but that is not to say that more does not need to be done,” said Mr. Parent. “Supporting Veterans should not be seen as a static event where once every five years or so, the system makes a few incremental changes. We need to support Veterans in a dynamic way with regular evaluation of existing programs and services, and frequent assessment of the evolving needs of Veterans and their families.”

Mr. Parent attributes the achievements and successes of his Office to the dedicated and compassionate service provided by team members as they work on a daily basis to resolve individual complaints and systemic issues that affect Veterans and their families. “As Ombudsman, I reflect this collective effort and the spirit of my team, but any accolades for what we have accomplished in the last five years need to be directed to them. They have put in a tremendous amount of energy and work since my appointment as Veterans Ombudsman and I believe the results show that they have been instrumental in creating the conditions that allowed change to occur.”

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