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Record of Discussion – Care and Support Advisory Group

6 May 2021
12:30-13:30 (EDT)
Virtual – MS Teams

In Attendance

Care and Support Advisory Group Members

  • Mary Boutette, The Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre (Co-chair)
  • Debbie Eisan, Aboriginal Veterans Autochtones
  • Ray McInnis, Royal Canadian Legion
  • Percy L. Price, NATO Veterans Organization of Canada

Regrets (3)

  • Major (Retired) Bruce Henwood (Co-chair)
  • Sylvain Bouliane, VeteransCanada.ca
  • Marie Andrée Malette, Canadian Caregivers Brigade

Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs

  • Benjamin Sparkes, Policy Advisor
  • Sarah Cozzi, Director of Policy

Veterans Affairs Canada Officials

  • Charlotte Bastien, Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Oversight and Communications
  • Mitch Freeman, Director General, Service Delivery and Program Management Division (Co-Chair)
  • Faith McIntyre, Director General, Communications (Presenter)
  • Sylvie Thibodeau-Sealy, Director, Stakeholder Engagement and Outreach, Communications Division
  • Patrick Lynch, Senior Analyst, Stakeholder Engagement and Outreach, Communications Division
  • Crystal Neary, Project Officer, Stakeholder Engagement and Outreach, Communications Division

Observer

  • Laura Kelly, Office of the Veterans Ombudsman

Welcome and Opening Remarks

The VAC and member Co-Chairs welcomed the members and thanked them for their time and effort to join the meeting virtually.

Update on Renewal of Advisory Groups

Director General, Communications thanked the group for their continued dedication, passion and work on behalf of Veterans and their families, and spoke to advisory group renewal:

  • Renewing group membership will allow VAC to learn from new perspectives and consider diverse opinions.
  • The intent is that each group would have approximately 12 members representing a broad cross section of Veterans, Veterans organizations, non-profit, public and private sector associations as well as underrepresented groups and observer status members.
  • For current members, the Stakeholder Engagement and Outreach team will confirm intent to remain and those who are interested in remaining will be asked to provide their resume.
  • New members will be appointed by the Minister through an open and transparent application process where a Notice of Opportunity will be posted to fill positions. Candidates interested in applying will be asked to complete an application form and include a cover letter and resume.
  • The plan is to launch the application process and to post the notice mid-May for four weeks. Applications will be assessed and appointments made, with intent for advisory groups to resume meeting in the fall.
  • A pause on the Advisory group formal engagement would occur once the renewal process is launched until the refresh which would occur likely in early Fall.
  • Members are encouraged to continue to communicate with the department and the Minister’s office as needed at any point in time.

Discussion

Member sought clarification regarding the renewal of the group members and if various backgrounds and experiences will also be sought. Director General of Communications confirmed this approach to include members from various backgrounds, experience and involvement in the Veterans community and VAC will be using many tactics to promote the renewal.

Co-chair and members expressed support to having a calendar of advanced scheduled meetings and expressed the importance of such meetings as a meaningful way to stay connected.

Overview of CASAG recommendations

VAC Co-Chair provided an overview of how the recommendation are assigned a status and addressed that many recommendations take time because they require input from larger policy/regulatory bodies.

VAC Co-Chair noted that recommendations are discussed at many levels within the Department and influence various changes to programs and services as noted in the recent Federal Budget, with the delivery of services within mental health support.

Discussion

  • Member expressed the need for members to be made aware of what changes have taken place as information on changes is important to pass along to Veterans and their families, even if the change is minor.  There was agreement within the group of the need to close the loop on the progress within recommendations.

Way Forward

  • VAC Co-Chair highlighted that meetings will resume in the Fall after renewal is complete.   Although meetings will be put on hold until renewal is complete, the DG of Communications and OMVA are always available for members to contact them with issues or feedback.

Closing Remarks

  • VAC co-chair and member co-chair thanked the members for all of their years of dedication to the group and noted that many recommendations put forward have translated into concrete actions.
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