Veterans Review and Appeal Board - Spring Update
As we move into a new fiscal year, I would like to update you on a few items the Board is working on to provide Veterans and their families with a fair and timely appeal process for disability benefits.
Hearings and Decisions
In 2016-17, the Board continued to provide applicants with timely access to hearings and decisions. As soon as representatives told us their cases were ready, we were able to schedule, hear and decide 97% of Reviews and 96% of Appeals within 12 weeks – one month faster than our service commitment of 16 weeks. Within this timeframe, we issued 87% of Review decisions and 88% of Appeal decisions within our 6-week service standard (which measures the time from hearing to decision). More workload statistics will be available in our 2016-17 Annual Report to be released later this summer.
Briefing of new Chief of Military Personnel
In March, the Board was very pleased to host Lieutenant-General C.A. Lamarre, the new Chief of Military Personnel, for a briefing and tour of our operations in Charlottetown. We appreciated the time he spent with us and his engagement in learning about the appeal process. It remains the Board’s priority to raise awareness of appeal rights among serving personnel, and to underline how important it is for them to document events in service and to seek treatment for injuries.
I encourage you to read the Board’s first Departmental Plan, a new simplified report that replaces the Report on Plans and Priorities to provide parliamentarians and Canadians with information about our work and goals for the upcoming year. Our plan for 2017-18 outlines new and ongoing initiatives that will help us provide Veterans and their families with excellent service while ensuring they receive all the benefits they are entitled to under law.
Reducing Our Reliance on Paper
The Board continues to conduct pilots to test new procedures that will reduce our reliance on paper and eliminate the mailing of documents between our operations in Charlottetown and hearing locations across Canada. This, in turn, will allow us to process Veterans’ files more efficiently and faster. As part of this initiative, we are also working on giving Veterans access to their hearing documentation (known as the Statement of Case) through their My VAC Account. This way, Veterans will no longer have to rely on their representative to provide them with a copy.
Spotlight on Plain Language and Communications
We continue to make plain language writing a priority, so that our decisions and communications are clear and easy to understand. In 2016-17, the Board updated its information brochure for applicants and will be sending you copies for your use later this Spring/Summer.
Another exciting project we completed in the last quarter of 2017 was the production of four informational videos which will be published on our website shortly. The main video explains who we are and what we do, and portrays a Review hearing – so that applicants know what to expect ahead of time. The other three address the Appeal hearing, evidence requirements, and decision-making. These videos will be an invaluable resource for anyone wanting to learn more about the Board.
We continue to publish our decisions online to fulfill our obligations under the open court principle, so that Veterans can see how the Board applies the law in cases similar to their own. There are now more than 6,000 decisions available, which are searchable by key word. Please help us to promote this important resource among your members.
As you know, Board members who hear and decide cases for Veterans are appointed by the Governor in Council (GIC) on recommendation from the Minister of Veterans Affairs. Interested Canadians were invited to apply on a selection process for new members through the GIC website last November. Since then, the Board has been working with the Privy Council Office to finalize the process.
There is also an anticipatory member selection process underway, to help us fulfill our membership needs into the future. The deadline for applications is July 31, 2017, with more information on the Governor in Council Appointments website. Please share this link with your members to help us get the word out about these opportunities.
If you have any questions or concerns about the Board, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I am always interested in talking to you, or in meeting with you here in Charlottetown or in your location. Feel free to share this update with your members, and encourage them to follow us on Twitter for regular information about the Board’s activities.
Canadian Forces to facilitate transition to civilian life
GLORIA GALLOWAY - The Globe and Mail - Apr. 12, 2017
To Perley Rideau Staff, Volunteers, Residents, Family and Friends,I am writing to inform you that today Veterans Affairs Canada issued a media
release announcing the creation of a 25-bed program at Perley Rideau to
provide long-term beds for Veterans who were not previously covered for
As you are aware, we have advocated for this change for a long time to
address the natural decline in War Service Overseas Veterans who now call
Perley Rideau home.
This specialized unit -- as designated by the province -- emerges from a
partnership between the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, the
Champlain Local Health Integration Network, Veterans Affairs Canada and The
Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre. Thanks goes out to our partners
and stakeholders, including the Royal Canadian Legion and the Perley Rideau
Foundation, for promoting the expansion of long-term care to more of
This unique designation was earned as a result of decades of outstanding
care and the creation of a stimulating social environment provided by the
entire Perley Rideau Community. It is a privilege to serve our Veterans and
you show it in your actions each day.
To qualify for this new unit, the definition of "Veteran" has been greatly
expanded and covers more of the Veterans who served in the Second World War
and Korean War along with Veterans who wore the uniform after the Korean
War Service Overseas Veterans will not be bumped in this process. This unit
will have its own distinct waiting list that will be managed by CCAC.
This is terrific news for Canada's Veterans and a success for all parties
involved and we plan to formally thank everyone later this year.
I am proud to say that some of these new Veterans have already moved into
the Perley Rideau including one Veteran who was a long-serving volunteer and
served as the chair of the Perley Rideau Foundation.
CBC TV, radio and print will share our story today and I hope we will
attract additional media attention in the days ahead.
I want to let everyone know that this good news doesn't mean we will be
taking a step back to the days when the 250 Veterans were young and the
average stay was measured in years. This news only reinforces our commitment
to make the necessary changes so that Perley Rideau is seen as an innovative
care provider to seniors and Veterans in the Ottawa region and that we are
indispensable to the health system.
I thank everyone for your support and patience during these times of change
and I look forward to formally celebrating this new unit at an event in the
cafeteria later this spring.
We will add a new page to the homepage of our website (perleyrideau.ca)
providing information to Veterans and their families specific to this news
and I invite all of you to share this terrific news.
Have a great day,
Akos Hoffer, CEO, The Perley and Rideau Veterans' Health Centre
Veterans Information Session Veterans, the RCMP and their families are invited to attend a free veterans' benefits and VRAB Information Session.
Seating is limited. Register here now:
Canada's NATO BrigadeHarold A. Skaarup's website opens on 4CMBG with a lot of photos, crests and pics/bios of commanders. The right hand side of the site provides links to a number of other photo collections of interest to those who like military kit.
Government of Canada Increases Financial Support for Veterans
The link below was released by Veterans Affair Canada March 16.
If you received a disability cash award since 2006 I strongly recommend you read all the material in the release.
This is a result of the 2016 election promises made by the Liberal Government.
The Veterans Transition NetworkThe Veterans Transition Network, is currently hosting a series of sessions aimed at guiding veterans with Operational Stress Injuries (OSI) through the transition process by focusing on counselling and peer support.
Though the organization is national, this current series of sessions, entitled the Men’s Manitoba Veterans Transition Program, is being held in Manitoba. This session, and others like it, are held across the country, several times throughout the year.
The program is a ten-day retreat with four to six veteran participants. The current session is being held on the weekends of Feb. 17, March 3 and March 10.
The retreat is led by two clinicians who are experienced in working with the military and trauma populations. They then receive additional training from VTN. These clinicians are supplemented by two paraprofessionals, veterans who have previously gone through the program.
At its core, the program is aimed at providing peer support and counselling.
“We really want to be a military peer-to-peer program, as well, because those that have been there know most about it. So, having that support system is really important to us,” said Jenna Bind, Operations Coordinator Western Canada, VTN.
The retreat gives the veterans a chance to speak about their shared experiences and the traumatic events that have shaped them.
“Because they're working with other veterans, and they have that support network, they are able to open up quite quickly on these weekends; sometimes, more so than in some longer term counselling where they're alone or working with someone not specialized in working with military population,” added Bind.
The veterans are given tools and taught strategies on communication, especially in the civilian world, goal setting for the future and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)/OSI management techniques.
The sessions are broken up by several weeks in between to allow the participants time to practice the learned skills and come back and discuss their experiences.
The organization has been looking to expand in Manitoba for some time now. So far, VTN has held three programs in Manitoba over the last few years, mostly expanding through word-of-mouth. Those who have attended, attest to the impact the program can make.
“One of the veterans that I talked to, he’s a paraprofessional now, what it [the program] did for him, [was that] he was able to take something that happened to him, that was really hard, and it’s still there, but he was able to kind of put it on a shelf, and he can look at it now and say: ‘those things happened, and they were terrible, but I accept it. I accept where I was in it.’ And he can look at it now without making him feel anxiety, without making him feel depressed, without making him have that emotional response that makes him closed off to the world,” explained Bind.
VTN covers the cost of transportation, lodging, and food for its participants.
“We really want to have it accessible to everybody. We don’t want someone’s location or financial situation to prevent them from our attending our programs,” noted Bind.
According to Bind, the attendees of these retreats often form life changing relationships, an experience all veterans should have.
“We all deserve to have a high quality of life, and we all have baggage and things we are carrying, especially in the military; but when you transition out of the military your support systems and network around you are often lost a fair bit, and it can be hard to regain that and kind of find your footing. So, whether you just have a bit some anxiety or are facing some challenging issues a program like this can really bring you into the fold of a group of people that really understand what you're going through and give you that support,” said Bind.
The next Men’s Manitoba Veterans Transition Program is scheduled for sometime in June.
VTN holds similar retreats across the country. To see the dates for upcoming events check out the schedule on the VTN website .For more information about Manitoba’s programs email email@example.com
There has been progress ... but is it enough?
Ottawa, ON - February 27, 2017
My goal is to ensure fairness for Veterans. We make recommendations, informed by evidence, to improve the quality of life for Veterans and their families. Today I have posted a status update, on all the recommendations made by my Office since its inception. To date, we have made 57 recommendations and, of these, the Government has fully or partially implemented 37, leaving 20 still to be addressed.
The Government is making progress addressing Veterans’ issues. For example, some of the announcements in Budget 2016—increasing the Earnings Loss Benefit (ELB) to 90 percent of pre-release salary and increasing the Disability Award to $360 K—will have an impact on the lives of many Veterans and their families.
But is it enough? No, more still needs to be done.
I encourage you to look at the full status update on my recommendations.
Budget 2017 is an excellent opportunity for the Government to take additional action. Let’s keep a watchful eye on it. I know I will.
Will Budget 2017 Help Veterans?
This text was authored by Guy Parent, Veterans Ombudsman, and originally published in The Hill Times on Monday, February 20, 2017.
A year ago in The Hill Times, I challenged the status quo to “go beyond today’s ideas and shape tomorrow by clearly defining Veterans’ outcomes – the end results that we want to achieve – and figure out the steps needed to attain optimal results for Veterans and their families.”
A year later, with Budget 2017 on the horizon, have we made progress and begun to clearly define the results that we want to achieve for Veterans and their families?
I believe that Budget 2016 improvements are making a positive difference in the lives of Veterans and their families. But, I also believe that there is still much to do.
To add perspective to this viewpoint, I recently conducted a review of the Government’s response to the recommendations made by my Office since its inception.
Out of the 57 recommendations that were developed in collaboration with Veterans’ advocates and organizations, 37 have been fully or partially implemented and 20 are waiting to be addressed. Six of the items in the Minister of Veterans Affairs’ Mandate Letter are based on my recommendations, and three of these were addressed in Budget 2016 – increasing the Earnings Loss Benefit to 90 percent and the Disability Award to $360,000, as well as changes to the Last Post Fund.
There are still outstanding recommendations that would make a significant impact on the lives of Veterans and their families should they be implemented:
I would also like to see action on:
So, when it comes to Budget 2017, I hope it will address several of the outstanding recommendations that came from the collective work effort of the Veterans’ community over the past several years.
My fellow Veterans and I know that there will be many competing priorities for funds in the upcoming Budget. Veterans have earned Canadians’ respect and gratitude for their service – including putting their lives on the line for Canada – and deserve the best care and support that we can give. We will be watching to see if Budget 2017 ensures better results for Veterans and their families.
Letters of Support for 150th medal
From : Don Ethell, Col (ret) OC, OMM, KStJ, AOE, MSC, CD
Former Lieutennt Governor of Alberta (2010-2015)
Dear MPs et al
I write to you to express my displeasure and disappointment in the alleged decision by the Minister of Culture, Madam Melanie Joly who apparently has stated that there will be no issue of a 150 medal honouring our 150th anniversary.
I find that decision – by a relatively newly elected MP, and junior Minister to make such an autocratic decision without any consultation with Canadians – to be appalling. We Canadians, including many, many veterans and serving members have been justifiably proud of these medals, including the 100th and 125th) – and think Canadians should be so recognized for the 150th.
I’m also advised that allegedly the Cdn Mint no longer produces medals, apparently due to cost savings, and as such if a medal was authorized that it would have to be produced ‘off-shore”. Once again, this information is incorrect as we have an outstanding Foundry in Gatineau PQ (owner Joe Drouin, a retired Sgt-Major from the R22eR (Van Doos). Joe has produced many-a-medal and serves as the epitome of excellence. Additionally there is another Foundry in Edmonton which could produce medals and replicas.
I solicit your support in contacting your Federal colleagues in an effort to change Madam Joly’s appalling edict.
Further, to me it is very surprising that neither the Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Honourable Kent Hehr, nor the Minister of Defence the Honourable Harjit Sarjjan, OMM, MSC, CD have expressed their displeasure of Madam Joly’s announcement– at least publicly. They are supposed to represent us.
I remain your obedient servant,
Don Ethell, Col (ret) OC, OMM, KStJ, AOE, MSC, CD
From: Dave W. Palmer, CD, KStG
Subject: Re: I solicit your support in contacting your Federal colleagues in an effort to change Madam Joly’s appalling edict.
I wholeheartedly concur with Colonel Ethell's position on the Canada 150 Medal and the fact that it was well underway to becoming a medal until after the election in the fall of 2015 and it was abruptly cancelled! That is like cancelling tradition and the opportunity to honour thousands of Canadians, most who have had significant roles in building this nation and many who will not be with us in another 25 years when Canada celebrates its 175th anniversary. What a golden opportunity to leave many Canadian families with a lasting legacy to be handed down from generation to generation to have family medals that show the importance and significance the Canada 150-Medal would illustrate for those that have contributed in many ways to this great nation and to the many thousands of veterans who have done what most Canadians will never do, and that is to volunteer to serve.
I am sure that the Former Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, retired Colonel Don Ethell, OC, OMM, KStJ, AOE, MSC, CD, can most definitely appreciate the frustrations of thousands and thousands of Canadians and veterans who for a decade have dreamed of being formerly acknowledged and honoured for volunteerism as were their ancestors. In recent years as many of you know our Commonwealth allies, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand have all issued honours for their veterans going retroactive some 60 or more years to 1945, but not Canada.
Our veterans, many who at one time or another may have even served longer than their ancestors of yester-century, but still have not a single medal to wear for their conviction to volunteer. These long established traditions to recognize and honour worthy acts and decisions to volunteer a portion of one's life in service to their nation are hardly routine. Yet that is what responses to the efforts to get our veterans a volunteer medal are being indicated, and this is a slight to our ancestors who did received a volunteer medal . . . more or less saying their volunteerism was routine and unworthy. Volunteerism by our veterans of yesteryear, yesterday and today is no less significant than that of our ancestors and is is wrong to say it is.
Warmest and sincerest regards, God Bless our veterans and our troops and their families.
I support the Canada 150-Medal and have always fought for the revival of the Canadian Military Volunteer Service Medal (CMVSM) for our veterans and our troops.
Yours too in remembrance of those that volunteer to serve,
Dave W. Palmer, CD, KStG
Mandatory Registration for Vimy 100th Commemorative Ceremony in France
As you know, April 9, 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The Government of Canada will mark this anniversary and commemorate the sacrifices of the First World War with a ceremony on April 9, 2017 at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France as well as at events across Canada.
Safety and security are paramount to this ceremony, therefore registration is mandatory. If you do not register in advance, you will be denied access to the site. Registration ends on February 28, 2017 or earlier if capacity has been reached.
If you plan to attend the ceremony in France, we encourage you to register without delay. Attendees will need to provide a printed copy of their official e-ticket and government-issued identification, such as passport or drivers license, on the day of the event.
Accommodations in the area are already heavily booked. We strongly recommend that you reserve your accommodations as soon as possible.
For planning purposes, there will be site restrictions between April 1 and 10, 2017 at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial due to event preparations. Visitors should note that the site will be closed April 6 to April 9. The site will reopen on April 10 at 9:00 am with restricted access.
To register, please follow the instructions found at: Vimy 100 Registration. If you have questions about the registration process, please email VAC.Vimy2017.ACC@vac-acc.gc.ca or call 1-866-522-2122.
For more information about the commemorative events, please visit Canada.ca/vimy-100 regularly as information will be updated as it becomes available.
For information about traveling to France, please visit Global Affairs Canada's Travel Advice and Advisories page for France.
We will do our best to keep you information about events happening across Canada.
Direct Deposit Payment Statement for their Canadian Armed Forces Pensions.
Veterans have just recently received their Direct Deposit Payment Statement for their Canadian Armed Forces Pensions. In at least two cases, under the PSHCP-RSSFP box an error has been recorded. On my statement it reads $9.64 instead of $96.40. If you use your health care premium as a deduction for income tax, you will have to contact the Government of Canada Pension Centre at PO Box 9500, Matane QC. G4W 0H3, to have them correct this statement.