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3.0 Relevance

3.1 Continued Need for the Program

There is a continued need for the Program.

From 2006 to 2011, 8,026 CAF members were released from the military because of an injury or illness that ended their military career.Footnote 7 In general, CAF Veterans accessing services from VAC report complex states of health. CAF Veterans reported receiving a diagnosis by a health professional for at least one physical health condition (91%); a diagnosis for at least one mental health condition (60%); and a diagnosis for both physical and mental health conditions (55%). In addition, participants in the NVC suite of programs had a lower rate of working post-release and higher rates of unemployment than Disability Pension participants and non-participants.Footnote 8

The evaluation team’s file review confirmed the prevalence of co-morbidity as 85% (114 of 134) of Program participants had multiple mental/physical conditions noted on their file.

As of March 31, 2013, there were 5,866 participants in the Program. This represents a 126% increase (2,591 to 5,866) from March 31, 2009. Departmental forecasts indicate an ongoing future demand for the Program with the overall number of participants increasing by 55% to 9,100 by 2017-18.Footnote 9

3.2 Alignment with Government Priorities

The Program aligns with government priorities.

Each year, the federal government’s priorities are identified in the Government of Canada’s Speech from the Throne. The 2011 Speech from the Throne, delivered by the Governor General of Canada, notes "Our Government will continue to recognize and support all Veterans". In addition, the 2013 Speech from the Throne stated "Our Veterans have stood up for us; we will stand by them".

The Program also aligns with the Department’s strategic outcome of "Financial, physical and mental well-being of eligible Veterans". The Program is intended to support eligible Veterans in transitioning to civilian life by addressing the medical, psychosocial and/or vocational rehabilitation barriers.

3.3 Alignment with Federal Roles and Responsibilities

The Program aligns with federal roles and responsibilities.

VAC’s legislative requirement for the Program is outlined under Part 2 of the New Veterans Charter: "The Minister may, on application, provide rehabilitation services to a veteran who has a physical or a mental health problem resulting primarily from service in the Canadian [Armed] Forces that is creating a barrier to re-establishment in civilian life." In addition, "The Minister may, on application, provide rehabilitation services or vocational assistance to a veteran who has been released on medical grounds in accordance with chapter 15 of the Queen’s Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Forces" and who, subject to some exceptions, has applied within 120 days after the day of the Veteran’s release.

The Program also directly supports the mandate of VAC which is "the care, treatment or re-establishment in civil life of any person who served in the Canadian [Armed] Forces".Footnote 10

There is some duplication or overlap with other Canadian Programs.

Medically-releasing CAF Veterans participating in the Program can receive vocational rehabilitation services and benefits via the Department of National Defence’s Service Income Security Insurance Plan (SISIP). The services provided by SISIP include vocational rehabilitation for a period of up to two years following medical release from the CAF. SISIP also provides training and education with the goal of enhancing the former member’s existing education, skills, training and experience. SISIP overlaps somewhat with VAC’s vocational rehabilitation services which were designed to assist participant’s in identifying and achieving appropriate vocational goals. The difference between these programs is that SISIP’s vocational training is centered on existing education while VAC’s vocational rehabilitation services concentrate on providing training for a skill that is appropriate for the participant’s health and will provide gainful employment. Also, SISIP does not provide medical or psychosocial rehabilitation services. Once the two year SISIP eligibility has ended, many recipients apply for VAC’s Program.Footnote 11

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Disability Vocational Rehabilitation Program offers vocational counseling, financial support for training, and job search services to recipients of the NVC Disability Benefit. There is overlap with the Program; however, VAC’s Program, specifically the vocational portion, provides national service and is available to Veteran’s families.

Provincial Workers Compensation Boards provide return-to-work rehabilitation, compensation, and health care benefits; however, they are not targeted to Veterans, nor do they provide treatment for service related illnesses/injuries. Various provincial programs provide services similar to the Program (e.g., Health Care Benefit Trust in BC); however, Veterans are not eligible if their need for the provincial program is as a result of military service. Also, the provincial programs do not provide psychosocial benefits or family assistance.

Differences in program design prevent direct program comparison amongst other countries.

The evaluation team examined Veteran rehabilitation programs in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as these Rehabilitation Programs have some elements of comparability to VAC’s. Each of these countries provides various levels of support for rehabilitation services and benefits.

All three countries have a different health care system; therefore, the delivery of services and benefits to Veterans is specific to each country. Based on the analysis of the three countries, it has been noted that the Australian Program most closely resembles VAC's. For further detail, please refer to Appendix C.

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