Friday, April 25, 2014

The facts can no longer be ignored.

For the widest distribution throughout your networks please.

The attached 8 April 2014 evidence based testimony finally sets the record straight on the Government, Veterans Ombudsman and the member organizations of the Legion's consultation group misinformation surrounding the NVC.

Were you aware that the three priorities put forward by the Legion's consultation group were randomly chosen to call the Government's bluff rather than priorities based on true researched, surveyed veterans needs?

A true Veterans Charter and social contract provides benefits for all veterans including the disabled meeting their needs from transition to civilian life through aging to the grave using the Pension Act as a cornerstone like the model for WWII and Korea veterans we qualify for. The sad part is that the Government, Ombudsman and veterans organizations know this but they advocate a lesser standard of care by hiding critical information and ignoring the Canadian Constitution.

The facts can no longer be ignored.

CF veterans, their families and citizens should be outraged by the discrimination, pain and suffering this deception is causing.

See documents here:

8 April 2014 ACVA
Stand to

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

Opening Remarks: Sean Bruyea ACVA April 9 2014

Thank you most sincerely for your invitation to speak today.

Nine years ago Parliament passed the legislation we now know as the new veterans charter or NVC.  The Elected Members of the House of Commons never debated any of its clauses. They have yet to give serious independent and binding consideration of the dramatic changes that the NVC made to the relationship between Canada andthose who were and are prepared to lay down their lives in her service.

In good faith, and I emphasize in good faith, far too many accepted the shoddy construction of the NVC because government promised to keep the renovations going. Near stagnant incrementalism, a dirty word in the first fifty years of veterans’ benefits in Canada has become the sad new social contract between Canada and, our veterans and their families.

As the unaddressed recommendations accumulate, will the NVC become increasingly unfit to provide adequate shelter for our veterans and their families in the coming years?
Veterans Affairs made pretenses to the glory of Canada’s post World War II veterans’ benefits. The original aptly named Veterans Charter provided a host of programs for all veterans, whether injured or not. In 2005 and 2010, I testified to Parliamentary Committees, providing evidence that the New Veterans Charter was not a charter at all but a cynical repackaging of already existing programs with but a few limited additions.

As for consultation, Treasury Board is unequivocal that consultation must be “clear, open and transparent” as well as incorporate input from the stakeholders. Consultation must also clearly justify in detail why input is rejected in any final drafts. Such two way exchanges have never occurred on anything called consultation carried out by VAC. Perhaps it is no surprise that VAC in its latest senior management brief, considers Project Code PC20 titled “Expand Outreach, Consultation and Engagement of NVC Programs…closed”’.

I was first to publicly raise concerns regarding the NVC along with Louise Richard, shortly followed by Harold Leduc.  The bureaucracy’s outrageous attempts to discredit me are in the public record, thanks to media attention and legal proceedings.  What is not on the public record is the bureaucracy’s motivation; they were hoping to silence me and intimidate my colleagues. A genuine debate of the merits of the New Veterans Charter is not in the interests of VAC.

Canadians go to war, fight, die, loose limbs, minds and families atyour orders, for our values, our nation. They sacrifice to care for us. We do not do all of this for bureaucrats even though they may think differently. Then, why is it that Parliament through either inaction or inability has failed to stand up to the bureaucracy? Senator Dallaire has put on the record that the Minister in 2005 promised biennial reviews in committee. However, it took four years before this committee wrote its first report with 18 recommendations. Four years later, we are at it yet again with witnesses fighting to implement many of the same recommendations you included in your 2010 report.

Bureaucrats claim to have fully implemented and addressed 10 of your recommendations. However, I am unaware of any announcements of appropriate compensation for family members who take care of severely disabled veterans. Similarly, I’m still waiting for proof that VAC implemented (Quote)“as soon as possible the 16 framework recommendations made by the New Veterans Charter Advisory Group, including those entailing legislative or regulatory amendments.” One component of those recommendations: 100% earnings loss benefit tracking career progression and typical career earnings.

This is just a small sampling of the 160 recommendations that the Deputy Minister and her office claim they implemented. The DM certainly has the resources to creatively devise such claims as her staff has increased 500% in the past few years while veterans witness the closure of district offices and the removal of frontline worker positions at those which remain.

While veterans lose these trusted VAC workers, suicides continue, families fall apart through VAC inaction, veterans languish waiting for or being denied programs, and Deputy Minister Mary Chaput has received her performance bonus every year since her arrival at VAC three years ago.  Is it any wonder why veterans are angry?

Why is Parliament and the Prime Minister allowing bureaucrats to receive their performance pay while these senior bureaucrats fail to implement Parliament’s recommendations?

There are greater problems with the NVC than just the empty and specious rhetoric coming from Charlottetown. I have tabled 30 recommendations to consider for this comprehensive review in my report titled Severely Injured Veterans And Their Families: Improving Accessibility To Veterans Affairs Programs For A Better Transition.

As both sides of the Committee table have clearly observed, at VAC, availability of programs does not equate to accessibility. Why for instance should widows or spouses of incapacitated veterans be time limited on any program?

In the Pension Act, all programs were payable effectively on date of application. Why is the Earnings Loss Benefit payable when (Quote)

“The Minister determines that a rehabilitation plan or a vocational assistance plan should be developed”? Why are deductions for ELB increased annually when SISIP Long Term Disablity, the Public Service Disability Plans and many worker’s compensation programs freeze the deductions on the date the income replacement begins? Such pettiness is endemic in the New Veterans Charter.

Government is quick to march out the hypothetical 24 year old corporal from the Veterans Ombudsman report who is projected to receive from VAC $2 million over his lifetime. Ignoring that $350,000 must be repaid in taxes, when none of the Pension Act benefits are taxable, the sad reality is that this corporal does not represent the norm.

As of September 2013, of the 76,000 Canadian Forces Veterans who are clients of VAC, 941 received the permanent impairment allowance. One can only receive this allowance if one is declared Totally and Permanently Incapacitated or TPI, the most seriously disabled veterans.

Of this TPI population, only 38% have a disability assessment as high as the hypothetical Corporal and of those, only 22% are under the age of 45. This corporal represents fewer than77 individuals, or 0.1% of new veteran charter clients.

The Ombudsman noted of all the recipients of the Permanent Incapacity Allowance, only one receives the highest grade of $1,724.65 monthly. As for the highly controversial lump sum which now stands at $301,275.26, only 148, or 0.35% of all lump sum recipients have been awarded this amount in eight years.

It is interesting to note that these actuarial comparisons assume that VAC adjudicates similar injuries under the NVC at the same level as the Pension Act. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The average award given out by VAC prior to 1995 for World War II veterans was 40%. After adjudication guidelines changed in 1995, that average award sunk to just over 25%. Since the introduction of the New Veterans Charter in the middle of the harshest and most violent combat to which we have exposed our military since Korea, the average awards are now sitting at just over 15%. Not only is the disability award inadequate, but access to this benefit is heartlessly stingy.
Yes, there are other programs. Currently, only 14% of lump sum recipients are receiving additional benefits and only 2% have any long term economic assistance.

Of all those totally and permanently incapacitated veterans, none are allowed to access either career transition services or vocational rehabilitation.

Now, we already dehumanize those who most suffer from their service to Canada by freezing their economic potential at a fraction of often artificially low military salaries at release. By Preventing access to education and job assistance, as a nation we are in effect saying that we believe our most disabled veterans do not deserve to benefit from lifelong learning and vocational experiences, all proven to lower healthcare usage and increase well-being outcomes.

Contrary to the claim that the NVC offers opportunity with security, the reality shows us something different. Canada Pension Plan disability, once accused of being insensitive and lacking compassion now allows disabled recipients to receive up to $5100 annually without reporting it to CPP.

Even if a TPI veteran were to have CPP overlook these earnings, the VAC income loss program would deduct every single penny of this. Contrary to claims by VAC officials, veterans are not focused on disability nor were they with the Pension Act. Even with these onerous deductions, 35% of TPI veterans have a salary over $5000, indicating they would rather work and have their hard work mean little or nothing economically than not work at all.

Section 35(4) of the Pension Act however indicates:

“No deduction shall be made from the pension of any member of the forces because the member undertook work or perfected themself in some form of industry.” The Pension Act offered much security for the veteran to explore opportunities. Sadly, the NVC incarcerates our most suffering veterans in a psychological and financial prison of frozen human potential for the rest of their lives.

As for families, the legislated mandate of the Department defines both veteran and family as equals. However, families while the veteran is still alive, cannot access programs independently. The NVC only pays for family treatment in so far as it supports the veteran in his or her rehabilitation program.

We say we care about the career and health sacrifices of veterans’ spouses who do much to care for our seriously disabled veterans. In spite of repeated calls, we do not provide these spouses with any attendant allowance.

In 2005, the bureaucracy promised case management and psychosocial rehabilitation as part of slick sales job to sell the NVC to an unsuspecting parliament and population.  However, psychosocial rehabilitation does not exist in Canada in any measurable, consistent and accessible format as it is understood internationally. VAC did not have a viable definition until 2009, the same year the department was searching for a definition of Case Management in its own research report.

Arguably, Canada had the world’s best rehabilitation program for returning World War II veterans. We can achieve great things once again. One path to repeat this excellence is to sincerely pursue psychosocial rehabilitation for both physical and psychological disabilities. But it will take investment and more than a senior bureaucrats loathing of taking risks, incidentally the wrong personality type to be developing any new approach to an old social contract. Acceptable administrators, terrible innovators.

If we do nothing about the many NVC programs which are a disincentive to work, which focus on disability rather than ability, if we continue preventing opportunities for seriously ill veterans in our communities while we threaten their security, we know that, this will increase healthcare, treatment and pharmacological drug use. Such shortsightedness will negatively impact the health outcome of their family members while lowering the life expectancy of our most seriously injured.

Would it not be better to provide access to life-enriching education and opportunities to seek employment without penalty while these veterans in turn begin to pay more taxes, hence offsetting some of their disability costs? Does that not make better economic sense?

All veterans and their families especially the most seriously ill, fulfilled their obligation at government’s orders without delay, without complaint, without excuse. All they rightly expected was that government would honour their end of the contract immediately, expeditiously and for as long as those veterans and their families live.

For our most seriously injured veterans and their families, miserly constructed and administered programs have soundly violated this quid pro quo. Government is clearly not holding up its end of the bargain.

Prime Minister Harper during the launch of the New Veterans Charter in 2006, promised “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.” This was a promise from the current Prime Minister, not one from a century ago.

This dire situation wherein even the most loyal and timid of veterans organizations is speaking out is a very loud  alarm clock for our elected officials to stand up to a cruel bureaucracy and stand up forour veterans once and for all.

We must applaud this government’s commitment to Victims of Crime. However if government is willing to come to the aid of those innocent persons who are victims of mindless violence, it should do no less for those men and women that the Government has mindfully ordered into harm’s way.

Thank you

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Fantino: An Open Letter


On 07 April, 2014 at 8:03 PM on Twitter you tweeted “Disappointed that Union of Veterans Affairs Employees financing Veterans groups with secret "War Fund."”  You then provided a link to the House Publications that serves as an online record of evidence provided by witnesses.  

Julian Fantino @JulianFantino 
Disappointed that Union of Veterans Affairs Employees financing Veterans groups with secret "War Fund."…

You sir, have abused parliamentary committee testimony for political gain. You sir, have disgraced an element of democracy that is vital to the welfare of Canada.  If Prime Minster Harper had a shred of competence he would fire you from the Conservative caucus before you have a chance to resign. 

Let me be very clear on why you need to be removed.  The concept behind Parliamentary Committee testimony is to inform and educate MPs.  The primary benefit of parliamentary testimony for MPs is maintaining contact with the population and avoiding the groupthink of the Ottawa “bubble”. 

Individuals and organizations take time and effort to prepare for an appearance before any Parliamentary Committee.  Canadians appear because they care and/or have a vested interest in the committee’s business.  Canadians feel they are partaking in an important role in our democracy.  Most Canadians believe that MPs on committees are interested in what is brought before them. 

You sir, obviously have a different position.  You have proven that political gain is you objective.  Furthermore, you have indicated that Parm Gill MP is your willing toady.  Gill sifts the dirt and you fling it at those who have taken a bullet for you. 

Why would the wounded, families, individual veterans, experts, or Veteran Organizations bother to provide evidence if it is to be abused or used for political gain?

Any politician who would use testimony before a Parliamentary Committee as a source of a political attack does not deserve to hold office.

Please do the honourable thing and resign.


David T. MacLeod CD MA

Fire Fantino from Jim Newton on Vimeo.

Monday, March 31, 2014

It’s time to reconsider service delivery at Veterans Affairs Canada

Monday, March 31, 2014 The Hill Times Page11

It’s time to reconsider service delivery at Veterans Affairs Canada
(Photo) Too often, structural changes are proposed to deal with problems that are actually the symptoms of a much larger issue.
(Photo) The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright
Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent says the outcomes often experienced by veterans who are denied benefits, after having gone through the entire application and appeal process, are a symptom of problems rooted in the application process itself. If we fixed the front end of the process, we would reduce the effort (and cost) currently expended to provide the various levels of appeal at the end of the process.
Published: Monday, 03/31/2014 12:00 am EDT
Last Updated: Monday, 03/31/2014 12:12 am EDT

OTTAWA—Too often, structural changes are proposed to deal with problems that are actually the symptoms of a much larger issue. Concerning problems with service delivery at Veterans Affairs Canada, we need to deal with the root causes and, to do that effectively, we need to understand the end state we are trying to achieve.  Simply going for structural change, as proposed by Michel Drapeau and Joshua Juneau in their Jan. 13, 2014 article in The Hill Times, where they put forward the need to create a new administrative oversight body, may justify the existence of such a new organization, but would it be any more effective than the current structure if we haven’t addressed the root causes of today’s problems? I don’t think so.

The support of veterans and their families through effective and fair access to benefits—regardless of where or when one served—should be a priority for Canada. Since the current way of doing business is not generating the results needed to resolve the problems facing veterans and their families, we need to change our vision of the future and tackle the problem of service delivery head-on at the root level.

I believe that the structural elements necessary to effectively deliver benefits and services to veterans are in place today, but the system continues to fail some of our veterans for two primary reasons.  The first reason is addressed in my report on the New Veterans Charter and concerns the shortcomings in three Charter program areas: financial, vocational rehabilitation and assistance, and family support. The second reason is a complex, multi-layered and outdated service delivery process.  

The outcomes often experienced by veterans who are denied benefits, after having gone through the entire application and appeal process, are a symptom of problems rooted in the application process itself.  If we fixed the front end of the process, we would reduce the effort (and cost) currently expended to provide the various levels of appeal at the end of the process.  

Specifically, if applicants had a clear understanding of application requirements; if they received full disclosure on what documentation the decision maker was considering; if they were consulted in the process when documentation was not sufficient, and; if they received very clear and understandable reasons for decisions that showed the logic for the decision, we would likely see a reduction in the number of reviews and appeals.  
Indeed, I have reported on this in the past and emphasized that Veterans Affairs Canada and the Veterans Review and Appeal Board should be focusing on finding ways of making the right benefit adjudication decision on the first application based on liberally interpreting legislation, rather than expending effort (and cost) on perfecting the appeal process. 

Let’s expand on this further.

Once service relationship has been established, what would happen if Veterans Affairs Canada started accepting veterans’ documentation at the front end of the process at face value and applied a presumption that military service has an impact on veterans and their family, that the majority of veterans are honest and that medical professionals are qualified to provide the appropriate substantiation. Would the benefit adjudication process fall apart? I doubt it. 

If the criteria are clearly communicated and a medical professional provides a diagnosis, why does every application need to be scrutinized further in the minutest detail? This level of examination for every application is slowing down the application process for all veterans and affecting access for many eligible veterans on the off chance that someone may not qualify for a benefit. 

Is that fair? 

Without getting into the mechanics of how this would work, let’s look at this idea conceptually. How would Canadians like it if the Canadian Revenue Agency made no presumptions when citizens file their income tax return? If they weren’t afforded some presumptions it would be a long, drawn out process for everyone with an audit on all of their filed information before a decision could be made. We’re talking months, if not years, on the adjudication of one tax year alone. I don’t think many Canadians would be happy with this scenario. Do you? So, why are veterans subjected to such scrutiny by the Veterans Affairs Canada’s service delivery application process?

I suggest that Veterans Affairs Canada adopts a system similar to that used for the Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance, or the Canada Revenue Agency whereby if the documentation criteria are met, benefits are provided and periodic audits are done on files to ensure quality control and to detect any fraudulent applications. In fact, this approach is already being used by Veterans Affairs Canada in some areas of service delivery, such as health-related travel or the Veterans Independence Program, so why not for the application process of other benefits?

And, I’ll go further. 

I believe that the current system of veterans’ legislation is too complex. Generations of legislation have been piled on top of the other without sufficient attention to simplifying the complexity of this legislative build-up. Complexity is costly and at a time of economic restraint, would it not make sense to stop tinkering with individual components, collapse legislation and adopt a plain language approach.  

In addition, is it not time for Veterans Affairs Canada to begin to truly liberally interpret legislation, as it is meant to do? Is it not time that the Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada services and benefits are better aligned so that the transition from military service to civilian life is much less complex than it is today?  Something as simple as starting a Veterans Affairs Canada file the moment a member joins the Canadian Armed Forces, conducting a direct transfer of files when a service person transitions from the Canadian Armed Forces to Veterans Affairs Canada, and providing a veterans identification card when a service person leaves, could be major enablers to improve how services and benefits are provided.

Last fall, the Veterans Consultation Group called on the Government of Canada to have a “heroic moment” and do what is right for our veterans and their families. Now is the time to move forward and reconsider service delivery at Veterans Affairs Canada.  

Finding better ways to support our veterans and their families is not impossible, but it does require a change in our vision of the future. The gaps that need to be addressed in the current suite of benefits have been identified and validated in my report on the New Veterans Charter. We need to make these changes and then move forward with a new vision of service delivery at Veterans Affairs Canada. Anything less is a disservice to veterans and their families and Canadian taxpayers.

The time for action is now. The future awaits us. 

Guy Parent is Canada’s Veterans Ombudsman.
The Hill Times

Lucille Hodgins
Media Relations and Parliamentary Affairs Advisor
Office of the Veterans Ombudsman
Cell: 613-617-7205

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Spitirt of Denial at VRAB - great job Dave!

Veteran Watch is a collection (not organization) of like-minded veterans willing to take the time and effort to conduct meaningful research into the welfare of veterans. What Veteran Watch provides as evidence is well-researched and credible.  In this case, if the government cannot ensure and effective VRAB; Veteran Watch will document and comment.  

As the author of the attached document I give all recipients permission to disseminate to the public, other organizations, and the media.  See here for the document: Given the concerns voiced by the OVO, Parliamentary Committee and, most importantly, Veterans it was appropriate to conduct a review of VRABs behaviours. Peter MacKay MP and opposition members were included in the original email as the Department of Justice has a stake in the effective functioning of Federal Boards.

The report provided is the first of three that concern VRAB. The report indicates that VRAB has not adequately responded to the criticisms made by both the Parliamentary Committee and the OVO.  Instead it indicates that VRAB has paid mere lip service or "spun" its responses.  The second report is in production and examines how VRAB responds to Federal Court decisions.  The third report examines how Veterans perceive their treatment by VRAB.  Data collection of the third report has only recently begun.  

The effective functioning of VRAB directly affects every veteran who potentially requires the services of VAC. Those veterans adversely affected by the New Veterans Charter will feel the negative effects mentioned in this report more sharply than the rest of the veteran population.  

The original recipients of the email were politicians - they we sent their copies mere minutes before you.  Separate emails with the same content will be disseminated to elements of the media.  

Please direct all questions to the undersigned.


David T. MacLeod CD MA
Veteran Watch

Friday, March 21, 2014

Veteran Watch: Fantino and the Social Contract

Veteran Watch: Fantino and the Social Contract: Fantino spoke about the  social contract  with veterans in a CBC interview.  Government lawyers have stated that no social contract exists ....

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Veteran Reaches Out for Meds, VAC turns their back

It has come to my attention that a Veteran who is being treated by a Psychologist that is approved and paid for by VAC, has been denied Meds that this Psychologist and his family doctor suggested that he start taking due to the pensioned condition that he has been battling for many years.

VAC has denied those Meds.  Disgusting you bet.  But it gets worse and a bit complicated, but then again isn't everyones case a bit complex at times.

This Veteran fought a battle for 13 years with VAC to finally win last year.  He won finally in Aug 2012.  He had been put in for Depression due to the daily battles that his condition comes with, and was referred to the OSI Clinic in 2011.  The OSI Clinic stated that his depression was due to this condition, but because it was not a pensioned condition until Aug 2012, in March 2012 VAC came back denying his Depression as a sanctioned condition.

Fast forward to today, where his VAC Psychologist has determined that his Depression is from Severe to Moderate and that he should be on Meds.  He complies, goes to his family doctor, and his family doctor agrees as well.  The Family doctor even writes on the prescription that it is due to his now pensioned condition.  VAC denys the Meds because this is "consequential" to his pensioned condition and not that he actually has an approved Depression condition. Thanks for your support VAC.

Now this Veteran has to go back to the OSI Clinic to get them to rewrite the report unnecessarily all over again because of how the timeline feel, and currently VAC is turning their back on him, because that is their policy. Thanks VAC.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Minister Fantino do you have an alternative to the unaccountable VRAB Board?

Minister Fantino,

Thank you for reviewing my request but I do not trust and have no faith in Larlee given his previous misleading letters, misleading presentation to Parliamentary/ Senate Committee's and not being held accountable for inappropriately spending taxpayers money in trips to England. 

Do you have an alternative solution?

The Board that you are hiding behind and using as an excuse not to do the right thing has already ignored one specialist's report, and I do not trust them even though a second doctor has backed the first one up.  Those I have now uploaded to my VAC file and are also here

The assessment that was done on my case initially after I finally won after 13 years, was done on a report for winning my case, and I was not told by BPA to have him speak to the table of disabilities as I had not won yet.  When I did win, I was not brought in as expected by your department for an assessment as I should have been, and as I stated the doctor's more specific report was completely ignored by the non medical VRAB Board members.

Again, I ask you do you have an alternative other than the unaccountable VRAB Board?

You would think that with the recent suicides that you would treat this seriously rather than denying me depressive Meds as your department recently has done.

Captain (Retired) Jim Newton