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Record of Discussion – Care and Support Advisory Group Teleconference

Thursday, May 5, 2016
1400 – 1600 (EDT)

This was the inaugural meeting of the Care and Support Advisory Group (hereafter the Group). Quorum was met. Parliamentary Secretary Karen McCrimmon opened the meeting by welcoming members and offering her encouragement and support.

Context Setting

After roundtable introductions, the Veterans Affairs Canada co-chair touched on the Minister’s mandate letter as it related to the general mandate of the Group. The goal for the Group is to advise the Minister of Veterans Affairs on how the government can best support Veterans with an appropriate standard of service and care and by supporting families who are providing care and support to Veterans living with health issues as a result of their service. The co-chair also shared some key statistics about the Veteran population.

Draft Terms of Reference (TOR)

The Veterans Affairs Canada co-chair stated that the responsibilities and expectations of the group, as will be set out in the Group’s Terms of Reference, are intended to ensure that the best possible advice, informed by research evidence and the perspectives and real-life experiences of Veterans and their families, is provided to the Minister. The Group’s recommendations could address issues such as:

  • geriatric and gerontology-related issues, special health needs, and continuity of care for Veterans of all ages;
  • gaps in the nature and scope of departmental programs, benefits and services provided to Canada’s Veterans to ensure they receive the care and support they need and deserve; and
  • barriers or impediments to care and support resulting from departmental processes, directives and administrative tools.

It was proposed that care and support should refer to “all” Veterans and that “barriers” in bullet three should be understood to refer to societal, attitudinal and communication barriers. What, where, when, and how these barriers intersect should be considered by the Group.

Nomination of a Care and Support Advisory Group Co-chair

After discussion about the process of nomination for the Group’s co-chair, the Veterans Affairs Canada co-chair asked members to nominate themselves or come forward with a nomination by phone or email. The Group will then elect the co-chair at the first in-person meeting of the Group, and this would be done without the presence of Departmental or Ministerial staff.

Issues Raised by Care and Support Advisory Group Members

Members were invited to share their initial thoughts related to care and support for Canada’s Veterans and their families and possible work of the Advisory Group:

  • Long-term care beds should be available to all Veterans, including post-Korean War Veterans.
  • The Group must provide evidence-based advice and recommendations.
  • Mental health issues and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are becoming much more prevalent and the Group may need to take that into consideration as they think about care and support.
  • Veterans want to stay at home for as long as possible, but have to contend with a lot of paperwork and bureaucracy. Many echoed the need for a reduction in bureaucracy in programs and services.
  • Transition for Veterans from the Canadian Armed Forces to Veterans Affairs Canada is difficult and it needs to be made seamless. One member involved in a Transition Forum examining the gap offered to send information to members.
  • Veterans Affairs Canada should consider greater support for family caregivers, both for those taking care of Veterans with significant disabilities and those providing day-to-day support. While a benefit is in place, it is not enough to compensate them for earnings lost and their own need for self-care. Partnerships could help.
  • “Veteran-centric” needs to be defined in Veterans Affairs Canada literature.
  • The Service Income Security Insurance Plan (SISIP) needs to mesh better with Veterans Affairs Canada vocational rehabilitation programs. The Service Income Security Insurance Plan is “getting in the way.” The role of the Blue Cross was also cited as a road block in the provision of services.
  • Veterans and their families have low trust and high skepticism in Government and this should be addressed.
  • Veterans Affairs Canada policies and programs are based on the current needs of Veterans. A review of these should be conducted and gaps identified.
  • Veterans are not aware of the many Veterans Affairs Canada programs and services available to them. Veterans require complete and accessible information.
  • Provincial and other programs that exist for Veterans should have common definitions or criteria for what constitutes a “Veteran”.

Next Meeting

Members asked the Department to propose a few dates for the next meeting from which a date will be selected based on the greatest number of members available. Members requested that they be given adequate advance notice of meetings to plan and prepare.

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