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VAC's Responses to the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman (OVO) Observation Papers

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Veterans Independence Program Observation Paper

Louise Wallis
A/Director General, Operations
Veterans Ombudsman
P.O. Box 18 Stn B
Ottawa, ON K1P 6C3

Dear Ms. Wallis:

Thank you for your letter of March 31, 2010, regarding the Department's interpretation of section 16.1 of the Veterans Health Care Regulations, specifically paragraph 16.1(1)(d).

The concept presented in the Observation Paper prepared by the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman has been considered. However, it is not supported by the Veterans Health Care Regulations as currently written. Section 16.1 of the Regulations states:

"16.1 (1) The survivor of a person — who was an income-qualified civilian, an income-qualified veteran, a veteran pensioner or a civilian pensioner and who, at the time of their death, was not in receipt of the services referred to in sub-paragraphs 19(a)(iii) and (v) — is eligible to receive those services if

  1. an assessment and all subsequent assessments indicate that the provision of the services is necessary for reasons related to the health of the survivor and to assist the survivor to remain self-sufficient at their principal residence;
  2. the survivor is in receipt of the guaranteed income supplement under the Old Age Security Act or an amount is deductible in respect of the survivor under section 118.3 of the Income Tax Act in computing an individual's tax payable under Part I of that Act;
  3. the services are not available as an insured service under a provincial health care system or a private insurance policy;
  4. the survivor is not eligible to receive any services (emphasis added) under section 16; and
  5. the survivor is resident in Canada."

The phrase "any services" means any of the services that the client was receiving at the time the client died or began residing in a health care facility, specifically, housekeeping, grounds maintenance, or both. Hence, the reference to "and/or" that is often used in departmental correspondence.

The purpose of the 2008 regulatory amendment was to extend the housekeeping and grounds maintenance services to a specific group of survivors of individuals who were not in receipt of any of these services at the time of their death. Survivors of individuals who were in receipt of either, or both, of these services at the time of their death are covered under section 16 for the element(s) that was in place.

The current policy reflects the proper interpretation, intent and application of paragraph 16.1(1)(d). Consequently, the Department cannot change the policy as it would then not conform with the regulatory authority.

Sincerely yours,

Brian D. Ferguson

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