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Record of Discussion – Advisory Group on Families Teleconference

Tuesday, July 5, 2016
1300 – 1530 (EDT)

Participants

  • Yvonne Burke, Canadian Aboriginal Veterans and Serving Members Association
  • Sergeant (Retired) Alannah Gilmore (Co-Chair)
  • Namita Joshi, True Patriot Love Foundation
  • Tamara Kleinschmidt, Trenton Military Family Resource Centre
  • Major (Retired) Francis Laparé
  • Dave LeBlanc, RCMP Veterans Association
  • Lieutenant-Colonel (Retired) Chris Lindford
  • Ray McInnis, Royal Canadian Legion
  • Jenny Migneault
  • Laurie Ogilvie, Military Family Services
  • Brigadier-General (Retired) Bill Richard
  • Nora Spinks, The Vanier Institute of the Family
  • Karine Villeneuve, Operational Stress Injury Social Support, Department of National Defence
  • Faith McIntyre, Director General, Policy and Research, Veterans Affairs Canada Co-chair

Welcome

The co-chairs of Advisory Group on Families opened the meeting and welcomed the members. Dave LeBlanc was introduced as the new representative from the RCMP Veterans Association. The participation of the RCMP was raised by the members at the June 2, 2016 meeting.

Terms of Reference and June 2, 2016 Record of Discussion

The Record of Discussion was approved by the members. The Terms of Reference (TOR) discussion resulted in the addition under Scope (1.2) of identifying areas for further research related to families. The TOR will then be recirculated to the group for their approval.

Update on Policy Proposals

A representative from the Policy Division provided an update of policy proposals for families under consideration in the short term and the longer term. The members were consulted at the June 2, 2016 meeting, and today’s meeting was the opportunity to confirm the feedback received.

The proposals being considered were presented under the three key areas outlined below:

  • Communications – family specific communications strategy;
  • Access to support and services – on-line caregivers module, expansion of Veteran Family Program at Military Family Resource Centres (MFRC), creation of family navigator positions, and qualitative research study; and
  • Recognition and compensation – leveraging existing New Veterans Charter Programs to support employment and financial compensation for families, for example the Attendance Allowance or ESDC benefits.

Members supported the policy proposals and indicated they reflected their input from the June meeting. The feedback provided included:

  • Recognize that spouses need help in the short term;
  • Place the new family navigator positions at the MFRCs;
  • Extend access to MFRCs to all Veterans and their families, not just medically released members and families and expand to all 32 MFRC locations;
  • Measure the expected outcomes to ensure proposals address the needs and the expected results;
  • Include access to services and supports to address needs of families before it becomes a crisis as an expected outcome;
  • Include families in their own right to the expected outcome of families able to cope, adapt and manage Veterans’ health issues; and
  • Include the principles on which the policy proposals are based, for example family-centric, Veteran focused, and community connected.

It was noted that the Policy Division would like to access the expertise of the members on a number of the proposals as they moved forward, such as the on-line caregiver modules.

Military Family Resource Centre Pilot

As a follow-up from the June meeting, the Director, Military Family Services, Department of National Defence, a member of the Advisory Group on Families, provided an overview of findings to date from the seven Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC) pilot sites. The pilot was launched in October 2015 and provided access to medically-released Veterans and their families.

An overview of statistics was provided on who and how many were accessing the services (Veterans, spouses, children, parents and others), the services being accessed and the types of referrals being made.

Key points included:

  • significant uptake on the services at the pilot sites;
  • the majority of the files continue to be active;
  • families do not want a two-tier system with access provided to only medically-released Veterans and their family members; and
  • two-year limitation on access identified as a barrier, as users who potentially need the services don’t want to access a service with a time limit.

Two options for expansion beyond the seven pilot locations were provided. One option was access to all locations for medically-releasing Veterans and their families, the other option was the establishment of Military and Veteran Family Resource Centres with access for all Veterans and their families.

A member referenced the document “Brief from the Military Family Resource Centres” submitted in June 2016 to the Department of National Defence as part of the public consultation on the future of the Canada Armed Forces. The Brief highlights the importance and contribution of military families to operational efficiency and the need for them to be recognized in the evolving policies of defence as an integral and vital part of the CAF that must be supported by all levels of government through the MFRCs.

The document will be shared with the members and the spokesperson for the Brief, Marie Claude Michaud, Executive Director, Valcartier MFRC will be invited to present at the next meeting.

There was consensus that expanding access to the MFRCs would be presented to the Minister as one of the priorities that would have a positive impact on families for Budget 2017. A discussion on the option(s) to present will be on the agenda for the next meeting.

Next steps

Face-to face meeting in August with potential dates for members availability to be sent in the next days. The objective of meeting will be to determine the AGF’s priorities for presentation to the Minister to be included in Budget 2017.

Other potential agenda items include:

  • existing research and research in progress on Military and Veteran families;
  • Phase II of the on-line caregiver tool; and
  • Forward Work-plan.
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