The View from Charlottetown...

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The View from Charlottetown...

Post by teentitan on Fri 24 Aug 2012, 11:14

As you may know, I try to work from our Charlottetown office one week of every month. I use these occasions not only to keep updated on operations and issues of concern, but also to meet with senior managers at Veterans Affairs Canadaís head office.
In the lead-up to my July visit, I had a chat with the new Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada, Mary Chaput, who replaced Suzanne Tining on July 16. In the course of our conversation, Ms. Chaput emphasized that the Department would continue to be supportive and transparent in its dealings with the Office. As in the past, we agreed that while we, the Office and the Department, might sometimes disagree, we will never forget that our common objective is to ensure that Veterans and their families are treated with fairness, dignity and respect.

Hereís what else happened during my most recent trip, from 23-27 July:

I first met with John Larlee, the Chairman of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board (VRAB). Mr. Larlee informed me that they were working to implement the recommendations from our most recent report. We discussed the publication of noteworthy decisions by the Board. Currently, the VRAB publishes its interpretation of these noteworthy decisions, but not the decision proper. Mr. Larlee explained that privacy rules and lack of funds limit the Boardís ability to publish all decisions. In my opinion, this is not sufficiently transparent.

Mr. Larlee informed me that the VRAB is working jointly with the Bureau of Pension Advocates (BPA) to expedite cases returned from the Federal Court and that the Board is now offering hearings by video conference, which can be arranged within six weeks rather than six months. I was also informed that there will be vacancies on the Board this fall, leaving the opportunity to fill positions with ex-military members or health professionals. I am told that there are few applications from ex-military members, so if you are interested I would encourage you to go to the VRAB Web site and put your name forward.
Following this, I met with a BPA representative who expressed the Bureauís comfort with video conferencing as an option for hearings, provided that it remains the Veteranís prerogative to choose this medium and that the Veteran is always accompanied by his or her BPA lawyer or representative.
While in Charlottetown, I also met with Keith Hillier and Heather Parry, Assistant Deputy Ministers with Veterans Affairs Canada, who briefed me on how the Department intends to use new technologies as part of its Transformation agenda. We discussed the Departmentís recent announcement of a new partnership with Service Canada, enabling Veterans to drop in, obtain information, and get assistance with applications from any of the 600 Service Canada points of service across the country. Between this service, the assistance provided by service officers at Royal Canadian Legion branches, and assistance from other Veteransí groups, no Veteran should have to pay anyone for help with their application. My Office will be watching closely to ensure that these changes donít impede the delivery of service to Veterans. If you are experiencing difficulties accessing information or services, I encourage you to call the Office at 1-877-330-4343.

My next travel will be to Dieppe, France on August 15, where I will join Veterans in commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid. Starting again in September, I will be hitting the road here in Canada, starting with the Toronto area. See you at one of our town hall meetings!

Guy


http://www.ombudsman-veterans.gc.ca/blog-blogue/post-eng.cfm?173

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teentitan
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Number of posts : 3242
Location : ontario
Registration date : 2008-09-19

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