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Stakeholder Committees and Other Reasons for a Public Inquiry Into Veterans Affairs Feb 6

Stakeholder Committees and Other Reasons for a Public Inquiry Into Veterans Affairs Feb 6

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Stakeholder Committees and Other Reasons for a Public Inquiry Into Veterans Affairs Feb 6
Stakeholder Committees and Other Reasons for a Public Inquiry Into Veterans Affairs Feb 6

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Published by: Canadian_Veterans_Ad on Feb 07, 2012
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02/07/2012

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 The
Canadian Veterans Advocacy 
 one veteran, one standard 
PAGE 1The
 
Canadian Veterans Advocacy 
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Stakeholder Committees and Other Reasonsfor a Public Inquiry into Veterans Affairs
Veterans need to shed their well-indoctrinated sense of loyalty and sacrifice to agovernment system that has neither shown them loyalty at the senior levels nor sacrifice.
Photograph by Jake Wright, The Hill TimesVeterans files: Veterans Affairs Canada, now led by Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney,pictured on Parliament Hill in this file photo, has a six-decade old habit of keeping a tight leash
on CF veterans, writes veterans‟ advocate Sean Bruyea.
 -By Sean Bruyea, THE HILL TIMES-Feb. 06, 2012
 
 The
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 one veteran, one standard 
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 OTTAWA
 — 
Veterans Affairs claims it wants to do business differently. The big question is: canParliament, Canada, and veterans trust the bureaucracy? And can veterans trust that the veteranorganizations will not just bark but finally bite when Veterans Affairs Canada instinctually andinevitably strays off the path?Veterans Affairs has a six-decade old habit of keeping a tight leash on CF veterans. Thedepartment has failed to fulfill its legal and ethical obligations to Canadian Forces members andtheir families by denying CF veterans access to similar assistance given to World War IIveterans.This week (Feb. 8-
9), Veterans Affairs will be hosting its third “stakeholder committee” meeting
in Ottawa. This stakeholder committee involves executives from CF veteran groups, some of which have been clamouring to be heard for anywhere from five years to five decades.Why the change? It is certainly not because of some sudden realization that the demographics arechanging. The CF, Parliament, military veterans, their families, and even the auditor general in1998, have been telling VAC to adequately respond to the demographic shift for almost 20 yearsfollowing the Gulf War in 1990-91.What has changed are six years of growing scandals which reveal a department in crisis andwoefully out of touch with the military it claims to serve. The past two years have shone a bright
light on the department‟s inability to comprehend the needs of veterans and their families. They,
along with Canadians are outraged at the payment of one-time lump sums for lifelong militaryinjuries, the maximum of which ($293,000) is deceptive as the average payout is only $40,000.
To put that in perspective, one year‟s compensation package for a Deputy Minister like Suzanne
Tining is $415,000 for a DM-2 as of April 1, 2010. This is 70 per cent more than the maximumlump sum, of which only 134 received the maximum in the first four years of the program.This is the same deputy minister who oversaw the escalation of the privacy scandal from whatcould have been resolved quickly and quietly and which instead became a national outrage.Meanwhile, in November 2010 and 2011 more than 10,000 veterans and supporters took to thestreets in national public demonstrations for the first time in over 90 years protesting the
department‟s insensitive policies.
 Why should Canada expect any better from VAC? Only 100 employees of 4,400 have worn amilitary uniform and not a single executive or senior manager has ever served. Of the more than
 
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 1,107 veterans with disabilities who have applied for priority hiring in the public service over 10years, VAC has hired just 26, or 1.8 per cent.The department seems to believe that this new stakeholder committee holds the key to reversingtheir losing game. What is the committee supposed to accomplish? According to the terms of 
reference, three of the five “roles and objectives” consist of focusing upon discussion and
exploration. The remaining two roles focus upon action, responsibility for which absurdly falls
upon the veteran organizations to “provide a mechanism for dissemination of information onVAC initiatives and programs.”
 You see, in sharp contrast to the more dedicated and far more sympathetic frontline employees,the senior managers at the department have been briefing ministers for more than five years thatthe reason for the scandals, the homeless veterans, the inadequate programs and poor treatmentand the overworked frontline staff is that there is a communication problem. This problem,according to senior officials, centers upon the lack of information for veterans, or, more
 patronizingly, veterans who don‟t understand the good intentions of VAC denying the programs
the veterans need.
One only has to look at the “record of decisions” from a mee
ting last fall to see how VAC seniormanagers are massaging the message and perpetuating failure. The department has thus far
refused to publish actual minutes of proceedings. The “record” is most notable for what itdoesn‟t contain. For instance, VAC is i
n the process of a five- year modernization of their IT andonline resources for veterans which in the words of senior officials at the last meeting, will bring
VAC up to where it should have been “five years ago.”
 This five-year plan met with vociferous and widespread condemnation as well as emphatic offers
to petition that more resources be given to VAC. Nevertheless, the “record of decisions” leaves
the five-year plan to go ahead as planned, over five years.
VAC is legally mandated for the “care, treatment and rehabilitation” of veterans and their “dependants,” as the government condescendingly calls family members. Yet, families are not
represented as a stakeholder on the committee. Nor are any of the dozens of regimental or otherveteran organizations which are far larger than some of the traditional CF veteran organizations.Of those stakeholders who meaningfully contributed to the discussion, there was unanimousinsistence that VAC implement all 86 recommendations from the New Veterans CharterAdvisory Group published more than two years ago. The House Committee on Veterans Affairs

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