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Knee Jerk Reactions From VAC and Others

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Re: Knee Jerk Reactions From VAC and Others

Post by Guest on Thu 18 Dec 2014, 19:22

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Re: Knee Jerk Reactions From VAC and Others

Post by Teentitan on Fri 05 Dec 2014, 16:18

Sorry but I forgot to add that I did not write it. I posted for the Chief Editor of VVi.

He is our writer and does these op-eds and authors all the periodicals you can find on the bulletin board of VVi under Latest Periodical or Latest News.
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Teentitan
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Re: Knee Jerk Reactions From VAC and Others

Post by pinger on Fri 05 Dec 2014, 14:24

Very well written Teen,

You wrote: " One metaphor to describe the influences used to determine what a department like VAC will be given is “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

There is a lot wrong with using this approach in problem solving. Not all wheels squeak even though there are problems. It is much better to have a thorough inspection system rather than just reacting when the “wheel squeaks”. Applying grease could therefore be a knee jerk reaction.
"

Aside from allocating federal funds by department, I have always understood that metaphor inside of VAC.
Squeak, rejected - squeakier, rejected - squeakiest? Approved... but lately it's more of a crapshoot.

And then there are " invisible " squeaks.

Perhaps a more pro-active GoC/VAC standard would prevent squeaks, rust, or worse on all parties concerned. Not talking a circular analysis ad nauseam for years.
You wrote " What is really needed is a well thought out solution which may require money in addition to other resources. "
In my UER TQ whatever, I had to use grease literally. It was routine planned maintenance, and if it required money, we got it instead of losing it. (foresight)
The common sense doesn't have to be expensive, just the grease needed.

However, implementation with real GoC sincerity is required with the said grease... pinger.
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Knee Jerk Reactions From VAC and Others

Post by Teentitan on Thu 04 Dec 2014, 15:16

“an immediate unthinking emotional reaction produced by an event or statement to which the reacting person is highly sensitive; in persons with strong feelings on a topic, it may be very predictable”

The announcements of the past few days of additional funding for the Veterans Community seem very much like knee jerk reactions to the nation wide criticisms about lapsed spending by the federal government. Throwing money at highly visible problems is a typical political response, but this rarely solves the problems.

What is really needed is a well thought out solution which may require money in addition to other resources. Tragically, VAC has often failed to implement many solutions provided by its own personnel, Veterans and other Canadians.

Let us consider the recent announcements.

Three ministers were required to announce that an additional $200 million will be spent on mental health care and a new facility in Halifax. It is always easy to toss out a number, but much harder to actually provide a detailed statement of how this money will be spent. Without the details, it is a very suspect number.

Yes, the plans announced by the ministers are laudable because as every Veteran knows, the federal government can always do more for the Veterans Community.

The second announcement was by Health Minster Rona Ambrose and will be in the amount of $5 million to the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR). This amount will be matched by an equal amount donated by True Patriot Love Foundation.

So a non-government agency will be given $10 million to more research. It would also be nice to know how much DND and VAC will be given to improve their research into military and veteran health issues.

Is the Veterans Community to be grateful that $205 million of the lapsed money will be reinvested? So what about the remaining $900 million in additional lapsed spending? Julian Fantino said that all of the money will be recycled...but not just to VAC it seems.

Why was there no announcement that lapsed spending policy will be eliminated???

Dead silence on that subject.

My understanding of how departments are allocated their budgets is based on a specific course that I was required to take by the CF. This is a complex and often confusing process to understand. I remember trying to memorise a lot of accounting terms particular to the methodology developed by Treasury Board. It is no wonder many Canadians prefer to get professional help to complete their tax returns!

Basically, departments submit their estimates to Treasury Board, which then combines all input into a

proposed budget. This is reviewed by Cabinet and the Prime Minister's Office, which then decide on the final draft. The federal budget is a very important decision because it influences how Canadians view the government. Therefore a variety of political, economical and social factors influence what is included.

One metaphor to describe the influences used to determine what a department like VAC will be given is “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”.

There is a lot wrong with using this approach in problem solving. Not all wheels squeak even though there are problems. It is much better to have a thorough inspection system rather than just reacting when the “wheel squeaks”. Applying grease could therefore be a knee jerk reaction.

Both announcements preceded the public release of the auditor-general's report which listed, once again, systemic problems plaguing VAC.

Of note, the audit stated that almost 25% of the 15,385 veterans who applied for long-term mental health benefits between 2006 and 2014 were rejected.

Julian Fantino released his own statement about the audit and had this to say:

“I recommended to the Auditor General to conduct a comprehensive, third party review of our mental health supports because I want to ensure they are as effective and accessible as possible for Veterans and their families.”

VAC did not need yet another report stating that its services suck to prove that its services still suck. The Veterans Community is well aware of how much VAC services suck. There are plenty of VAC sponsored reports which identify many of the systemic problems, but Julian Fantino needed reports from a Parliamentary committee and the auditor-general to confirm what was already known.

There was a detailed report submitted to the Cabinet in 2010, which provided recommendations to be implemented over a period of five years. This report was classified and never made public, so it is impossible to know whether any of the recommendations were implemented. I am quite confident that this report also identified some of the problems of all the other reports written over the years, which have failed to be properly studied by ministers and VAC.

Repeatedly identifying problems does not ensure any solutions are implemented. The net result is the problems persist.

Veteran Voice has repeatedly disagreed with VAC that programs do not suffer from the lack of money and resources.

Here are some facts:

* the average lump sum payment is about $40,000 (about 13% of the maximum)

* few VAC clients receive Permanent Impairment Allowance (PIA) or its supplement (PIAS)

* Pension Act disability allowances average less than 40% (only a fraction of one % of VAC

clients receive full disability (100%) and thus do not qualify for additional payments like PIA)

* VAC will quickly cancel any funding if a client does not submit the appropriate forms with receipts in a timely manner (see “Failure to Communicate” 10 August 2014)

* VAC is very slow in reimbursing clients because it processes all those forms slowly (in part because it cut 900 jobs)

Basically, VAC relies upon a strategy of rejecting claims, minimising claims and using red tape to defer payment. If Veterans are unhappy then they can complain to the Veterans' Ombudsman, Veterans Review and Appeal Board, various federal commissioners and finally a federal court.

Any appeal to any of these agencies can take years, so it is no surprise that the auditor-general stated that only 1,295 “rejected clients” (about 34%) appealed to VRAB. Based on VRAB statistics, there is about a 50% chance of receiving a satisfactory decision.

Do Veterans suffering with serious health problems really need to wait years with only a slim hope of a positive result?

Of course not is the answer, and even those not suffering with mental health conditions will often suffer from anxiety and depression because of the dehumanising process of appeal.

Even VAC personnel disagree with federal government's policies:

“The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) wants the Treasury Board to impose a moratorium on program and budget cuts at Veterans Affairs Canada.

During negotiations Wednesday -- between the union and the Treasury Board -- the union tabled a call for an independent assessment to determine whether the department can function properly.” (Sun News 19 November 2014)

Again it may be difficult to know which side is providing objective information, so you must decide whether VAC has provided better service by reducing 900 jobs in VAC (through attrition and good human resource management) or the reductions have resulted in VAC being short-staffed to the extent that there is a backlog of six to eight months
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