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Executive Summary

Background

This evaluation of the Health Care Benefits and Services Program was conducted in accordance with Veterans Affairs Canada's (VAC) approved multi-year, risk-based Evaluation Plan 2012-2017.

The Health Care Benefits and Services Program, commonly referred to as the Treatment Benefits Program, provides Veteran recipients with access to extended health care.Footnote1 There are 14 benefits and services groups comprising a wide range of offerings. An overview of the benefits and services can be found in Appendix A.

The Health Care Benefits and Services Program, herein after referred to as "the Program", is one source of health care available in Canada that contributes to the well-being of recipients. In 2011-12, the Program funded $262 million in benefits and services. The Program is delivered through various departmental offices in conjunction with a health claims processing contractor. Recipients are primarily Veterans in receipt of disability pensions or awards. Some Veterans also have eligibility through other Veterans Affairs Canada programs. The evaluation focused on eligible war service and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) program recipients. The evaluation did not assess benefits/services provided through the Department's Rehabilitation Program.

The evaluation examined the relevance and performance of the Program, and was conducted in accordance with Treasury Board policy requirements and related Treasury Board Secretariat guidance material. The evaluation findings and conclusions are based on the analysis of multiple lines of qualitative and quantitative evidence.

Overall Results

Relevance

The Program is aligned with the priorities of the Government of Canada, as well as the strategic plans of the Department. The evaluation confirms a continuing need for the Program. Although recipients are generally satisfied with the program, satisfaction rates vary significantly between the CAF and war serviceFootnote2 recipients with war service recipients indicating they are more satisfied. This may be due in part to war service recipients having more access to benefits and higher levels of awareness of the Program and its offerings. The utilization of the Program by CAF Veterans is increasing, yet over half of those eligible for benefits and services have not used them. There are a number of potential reasons for non-use, including lack of awareness of benefits and services available and access to treatment from another source (e.g., provinces).

Starting in 2010-2011, CAF Veterans became the majority of eligible recipients of the Program. A review of the data indicates that this group is faced with a variety of complex health problems. To maintain the Program's relevance, particularly for the CAF recipients, it is necessary for the Department to continue updating the types of benefits and services provided, as well as how the Program is delivered. The Department also needs to continue to improve information sharing with Veterans to ensure that they are aware of benefits and services available to them.

Achievement of Expected Outcomes

The effectiveness and success of a program are generally measured through the use of performance measurement strategies that include performance indicators and intended program outcomes. The achievement of Program outcomes is higher for the war service population. Generally, war service recipients have more access to the Program's benefits and services, as well as higher utilization and higher rates of self-reported needs met compared to CAF recipients. Improved indicators of success would provide additional information to allow for more precise measurement of the achievement of Program outcomes for both recipient groups.

Demonstration of Efficiency and Economy

A comparison of administrative costs with other federal departments providing similar programs and services was conducted. Due to differences between the programs, a comparison of administrative costs to deliver the programs would not be appropriate. A review of recent VAC initiatives to improve the efficiency of the Program suggests that while the Department has achieved some success, some initiatives have not yet achieved the intended goals.

The evaluation findings and conclusions resulted in the following recommendations:

Recommendation 1:

It is recommended that the Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy, Communications and Commemoration, in conjunction with the Assistant Deputy Minister, Service Delivery, better aligns CAF applicants' and recipients' expectations with program benefits and services available by: (Essential)

  1. designing and implementing measures to collect more specific and comprehensive feedback from CAF Veterans regarding their expectations and level of awareness of the Program; and
  2. providing clear program eligibility, specific benefit information, and process details to CAF applicants and recipients.

Recommendation 2:

It is recommended that the Assistant Deputy Minister, Service Delivery, reviews and updates the Performance Measurement Strategy to include more appropriate measures to assess Program success. (Essential)

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