Welcome!

News Feed Item

Veterans Ombudsman Calls for Action on House of Commons Committee's Recommendations on the New Veterans Charter

OTTAWA, ONTARIO -- (Marketwired) -- 07/10/14 -- Canada's Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent today released his analysis of the House of Commons Standing Committee Report and recommendations on the New Veterans Charter, The New Veterans Charter: Moving Forward. His analysis is contained in a letter to Committee Chair Greg Kerr (attached).

"I am pleased that the Committee took up most of my recommendations and put forward that the Veterans Bill of Rights be included in the New Veterans Charter and in the Pension Act and that the Charter be liberally construed and clearly recognize the obligation of the Government of Canada and all Canadians to its Veterans and their families," said Mr. Parent.

In particular, he commended the Committee for achieving all-party support on its recommendations and for recognizing that 'tinkering around the corners' of the New Veterans Charter is not good enough anymore. "Substantive changes are needed to address the deficiencies in Veterans' benefits and services for those who have been injured or become ill through their service to Canada," he said. "A plan is just a plan until it is put into action."

While in agreement with the majority of the Committee's recommendations, he cautioned that the wording of some is too ambiguous and could result in multi-interpretations that may be quite inconsistent with the original intent of the Committee. He also expressed concern about recommendation 4 - Earnings Loss Benefit - and recommendation 9 - Service Income Security Insurance Plan (SISIP) Long Term Disability program - stating that he cannot support them in the present form and offered his analysis of their shortcomings.

The Committee's Report was published within weeks of the June 2014 release of two other Reports also addressing Veterans' transition issues - the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence's Report Caring for Canada's Ill and Injured Military Personnel and the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs' Report The Transition to Civilian Life of Veterans. "This leaves little doubt in my mind that parliamentarians are sending a very strong message to the Government of Canada that the current shortcomings in Veterans' support need immediate attention," added Mr. Parent.

The Veterans Ombudsman met yesterday with the Hon. Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs, his staff and senior Veterans Affairs Canada officials. He briefed them on his analysis of the Committee's Report, as per his letter to the Committee Chair.

"My office is now actively engaged with the Minister and Veterans Affairs Canada to move these changes forward in a timely manner," said Mr. Parent. "As Veterans Ombudsman and Special Advisor to the Minister of Veterans Affairs, I pledge my readiness to do whatever is necessary to achieve this goal. To me, it is a matter of fairness to our Veterans and their families."


July 10, 2014

Mr. Greg Kerr, Chair
House of Commons
Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs
Sixth Floor, 131 Queen Street
House of Commons
Ottawa ON K1A 0A6

Re: Office of the Veterans Ombudsman Analysis of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs Report: "The New Veterans Charter: Moving Forward"

Mr. Chair:

I would like to compliment the House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs for its Report: The New Veterans Charter: Moving Forward. The Report's recommendations are generally consistent with those contained in my October 2013 Report, Improving the New Veterans Charter and Actuarial Analysis, which put forward evidenced-based recommendations that addressed shortcomings in three New Veterans Charter program areas: financial, vocational rehabilitation and assistance, and family support.

I commend the Committee for taking the important step of making a recommendation to incorporate the Veterans Bill of Rights into both the New Veterans Charter and the Pension Act; and for promoting that the Charter be liberally construed. I am also particularly impressed by the all-party support for the recommendations. This signifies to me that Committee Members listened carefully to the many stakeholders who testified before them since the hearings began last fall. They also took into account the many reports and recommendations previously published on the New Veterans Charter since 2006, and recognized, in their final deliberations leading up to the publication of their Report, that 'tinkering around the corners' of the New Veterans Charter is not good enough anymore. Substantive change is needed to address the deficiencies in Veterans' benefits and services for those who have been injured or become ill through their service to Canada.

Considering that the Committee's Report was published within weeks of the June 2014 release of two other Reports also addressing Veterans' transition issues - the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence's Report Caring for Canada's Ill and Injured Military Personnel and the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs' Report The Transition to Civilian Life of Veterans - there is little doubt in my mind that parliamentarians are sending a very strong message to the Government of Canada that the current shortcomings in Veterans' support need immediate attention.

While I am in agreement with the majority of the Committee's recommendations, I caution that the wording of some is too ambiguous and could result in multi-interpretations that may be quite inconsistent with the original intent of the Committee. Therefore, I request more clarity concerning the definition of the term "families", and would like to draw your attention to the limitation of the term "seriously disabled Veterans" as defined in the Committee's Report. In addition, I am particularly concerned about recommendations 4 and 9 and cannot support them in the present form.

Recommendation 4

This addresses the complex issue of the Earnings Loss Benefit and states that "the earnings loss benefit be non-taxable and set at 85% of net income, up to a net income threshold of $70,000, that it be adjusted annually to the consumer price index, and that for veterans who participate in a rehabilitation program, the disability award be paid once the program is completed".

As per my October 2013 Report, I support providing the Earnings Loss Benefit to eligible Veterans at a rate that allows them to maintain their net pre-release salary during transition from service in the Canadian Armed Forces to a civilian job for those who can return to work, or until age 65 for those who can no longer work. There should be no reduction in net income as a result of receiving an Earnings Loss Benefit.

If the Committee's intent was to ensure that a Veteran's pre-release standard of living is not reduced during transition to civilian life or until age 65, then the use of the words "net", "non-taxable" and "threshold" (Is the $70,000 a maximum or does this refer to the limit of the tax exemption?) requires clarity. A restrictive interpretation will most probably adversely affect Veterans and reduce their income. I do not believe that this was the goal of the recommendation.

The proposed recommendation in my October 2013 report, Improving the New Veterans Charter and Actuarial Analysis, concerning the Earning Loss Benefit is that it should be increased from the current 75 percent to 90 percent of the Veteran's gross pre-release salary. This is similar to how other schemes calculate income replacement. As I noted at the time, such an increase of the Earnings Loss Benefit to 90 percent of pre-release gross salary would provide a Veteran with 100 percent of his or her net pre-release salary because while he/she is in receipt of the income support benefit, they no longer contribute to Employment Insurance, the Canada/Quebec Pension Plan, and Canadian Forces superannuation. The current wording of Recommendation 4 does not achieve this goal.

Furthermore, the latter part of the recommendation concerning the Disability Award payment upon program completion is confusing. The Disability Award compensates for pain and suffering and is not related to the rehabilitation program. Its purpose is to provide immediate compensation for pain and suffering and should not be held back until a rehabilitation program is completed. Such action would disadvantage Veterans needing a longer rehabilitation period and create unfairness. Therefore, the Disability Award should not be withheld as recommended in the Committee's Report.

Recommendation 9

This Recommendation states that "the Service Income Security Insurance Plan (SISIP) Long Term Disability program be provided only to veterans medically released for a disability not related to military service, that all veterans released for service-related medical reasons benefit from the programs offered under the New Veterans Charter, and that the Canadian Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada work together as quickly as possible to eliminate overlap between Service Income Security Insurance Plan (SISIP) programs and those provided by Veterans Affairs Canada."

Currently, service relationship is not considered when determining whether a Canadian Armed Forces' member is medically released (only that the member has medical employment limitations that makes them unable to meet the obligatory Universality of Service requirements). Therefore, this recommendation will require a new process to determine service relationship at time of release. Also, the recommendation could affect the provision of vocational rehabilitation to the spouses of Veterans who are unable to complete a vocational rehabilitation program because SISIP does not provide this benefit. Finally, it is also unclear whether the Committee is recommending that Veterans Affairs Canada continue to provide medical and psychosocial rehabilitation to the Veteran who is medically released for a non-service related injury or illness; if not, this could affect the successful completion of the vocational rehabilitation plan under the SISIP LTD program. Furthermore, I recommend that an independent review of the dual SISIP Financial Services and Veterans Affairs Canada income support and vocational rehabilitation programs be initiated to determine their effectiveness.

At the end of the day, what is really important for Veterans and their families is that real and timely action is taken by the Government of Canada to address the pressing deficiencies in the support currently provided to Veterans and their families.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated at the launch of the New Veterans Charter on April 6, 2006: "In future, when our servicemen and women leave our military family, they can rest assured the Government will help them and their families' transition to civilian life. Our troops' commitment and service to Canada entitles them to the very best treatment possible. This Charter is but a first step towards according Canadian veterans the respect and support they deserve."

I have already met and briefed the Hon. Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs on my analysis of the Committee's report, along with his staff and senior Veterans Affairs Canada officials. The Office of the Veterans Ombudsman is now actively engaged and working with both the Minister and the Department to move this forward.

Although clarifications are needed to the Committee Report, as suggested above, I believe that Veterans Affairs Canada and the Department of National Defence have now a broad enough spectrum of evidence-based analysis and recommendations to start taking decisive action to address what is unfair with the current suite of New Veterans Charter programs and services. Also, as I mentioned to the Committee in my testimony, my Office will be publishing a report on the Permanent Impairment Allowance in mid-August that is complementary to my previous reports on the New Veterans Charter and will provide additional research, analysis and recommendations on supporting severely impaired Veterans.

I realize that work will be needed regarding cost implications and implementation rollout (including policy and program changes/approach, timing and sequencing). But, if action is taken to re-integrate Veterans successfully into civilian life and help them achieve what every Canadian strives for - a good job, financial independence, a reasonable quality of personal and family life, along with the best possible health - it will pay dividends not only to Veterans and their families, but to all Canadians. For those whose medical condition or illness does not allow them to return to work, it would ensure that they receive the support they need to live their lives with financial security and dignity.

In conclusion, I thank the Committee for its diligent work. While I support the majority of the recommendations put forward by the Committee, I will closely monitor their implementation because a plan is just a plan until it is put into action. Furthermore, as Veterans Ombudsman and Special Advisor to the Minister of Veterans Affairs, I pledge my readiness to do whatever is necessary to help the Committee and Veterans Affairs Canada move forward substantive changes to ensure that the needs of Veterans and their families are met.

I would be pleased to discuss my comments further with you.

Guy Parent

Veterans Ombudsman

More Stories By Marketwired .

Copyright © 2009 Marketwired. All rights reserved. All the news releases provided by Marketwired are copyrighted. Any forms of copying other than an individual user's personal reference without express written permission is prohibited. Further distribution of these materials is strictly forbidden, including but not limited to, posting, emailing, faxing, archiving in a public database, redistributing via a computer network or in a printed form.

Latest Stories
Between the mockups and specs produced by analysts, and resulting applications built by developers, there exists a gulf where projects fail, costs spiral, and applications disappoint. Methodologies like Agile attempt to address this with intensified communication, with partial success but many limitations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Charles Kendrick, CTO & Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, will present a revolutionary model enabled by new technologies. Learn how business and devel...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus inter...
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
If there is anything we have learned by now, is that every business paves their own unique path for releasing software- every pipeline, implementation and practices are a bit different, and DevOps comes in all shapes and sizes. Software delivery practices are often comprised of set of several complementing (or even competing) methodologies – such as leveraging Agile, DevOps and even a mix of ITIL, to create the combination that’s most suitable for your organization and that maximize your busines...
Struggling to keep up with increasing application demand? Learn how Platform as a Service (PaaS) can streamline application development processes and make resource management easy.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities. One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
In the world of DevOps there are ‘known good practices’ – aka ‘patterns’ – and ‘known bad practices’ – aka ‘anti-patterns.' Many of these patterns and anti-patterns have been developed from real world experience, especially by the early adopters of DevOps theory; but many are more feasible in theory than in practice, especially for more recent entrants to the DevOps scene. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Chair Andi Mann, panelists will dis...
See storage differently! Storage performance problems have only gotten worse and harder to solve as applications have become largely virtualized and moved to a cloud-based infrastructure. Storage performance in a virtualized environment is not just about IOPS, it is about how well that potential performance is guaranteed to individual VMs for these apps as the number of VMs keep going up real time. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Dhiraj Sehgal, in product and marketing at Tintri, will discu...
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, will discuss how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to im...
Unless you don’t use the internet, don’t live in California, or haven’t been paying attention to the recent news… you should be aware that self-driving cars are on their way to becoming a reality. I have seen them – they are real. If you believe in the future reality of self-driving cars, then continue reading on. If you don’t believe in the future possibilities, then I am not sure what to do to convince you other than discuss the very real changes that will roll out with the consumer producti...
Up until last year, enterprises that were looking into cloud services usually undertook a long-term pilot with one of the large cloud providers, running test and dev workloads in the cloud. With cloud’s transition to mainstream adoption in 2015, and with enterprises migrating more and more workloads into the cloud and in between public and private environments, the single-provider approach must be revisited. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Yoav Mor, multi-cloud solution evangelist at Cloudy...
There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore. This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...
This is not a small hotel event. It is also not a big vendor party where politicians and entertainers are more important than real content. This is Cloud Expo, the world's longest-running conference and exhibition focused on Cloud Computing and all that it entails. If you want serious presentations and valuable insight about Cloud Computing for three straight days, then register now for Cloud Expo.