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Record of Discussion – Service Excellence Advisory Group Teleconference

April 19, 2016
1330 – 1430 (EDT)

The mandate of the Service Excellence Advisory Group is to provide advice to the Minister of Veterans Affairs to ensure that Canadian Armed Forces and Royal Canadian Mounted Police Veterans and their families receive the care, compassion, respect, support, and economic opportunities they deserve.

During a general discussion on potential areas of Service Excellence Advisory Group focus, several themes emerged as to what the committee could focus its efforts on:

Service Improvements (processes, forms, “service ethos”)

  • Consider service excellence in the context of the full life course of the Veteran: from prior to and following release, through mid-life, post 65, to end of life. The spouse and family must also be considered.
  • Define the term “Veteran Centric” and explain how it links to service excellence.
  • Reduce delays in the disability benefit process, and provide timely decisions for entitlement and assessment/reassessment of disability.
  • Reduce the burden of program application forms and introduce a streamlined service and benefit application process.
  • Conduct surveys to receive feedback on the Veteran experience and identify systemic issues impacting the provision of services and benefits.
  • Update Eligibility Entitlement Guidelines (EEG) to ensure all conditions are identified on the Veterans Affairs Canada website.
  • Explore ways to communicate better and explain the available programs and services.
  • Explore ways that Veterans Affairs Canada can deliver transition briefings and interviews for Royal Canadian Mounted Police members.
  • Explore ways to engage with Veterans and their families who live in isolated areas without ready access to the internet.

Technology (access to My VAC Account and security, web usability)

  • Make improvements to My VAC Account and provide staff training so they can assist members and Veterans. The Department’s benefits navigator is difficult to understand and navigate.
  • Increase and improve the use of electronic media/communication channels.
  • Enhance security/privacy.

Transition

  • Create closer integration between Veterans Affairs Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces during the transition to civilian life, through early engagement long before a member is released.
  • Address the Service Income Security Insurance Plan (SISIP)/Veterans Affairs Canada overlap, access to an individual’s required medications, and access to physicians post release to ensure continuity of care. The current process can be confusing to navigate.
  • Explore the harmonization of the Canadian Armed Forces/Veterans Affairs Canada employment programs following release, as this is an important component of successful transition.
  • Explore having Case Managers and Veteran Service Agents proactively assist Veterans or family members to fill out benefit applications.

Rehabilitation Program – Vocational Rehabilitation (Forms, Service Income Security Insurance Plan (SISIP)/Veterans Affairs Canada overlap)

  • Track outcomes: are the programs actually working and are they achieving the desired outcomes?
  • Limit numerous changes in the Case Manager assigned to a Veteran.

Communication and Knowledge

  • Adopt a holistic approach to the Veteran to include the family and community with more face-to-face interaction and communication. Ask Veterans directly about their issues and track what is systemic.
  • Increase knowledge and understanding of Veterans Affairs Canada programs for Veterans and their families, as well as Veterans Affairs Canada staff.
  • Communicate actual turnaround times for disability benefit decisions and other benefits.
  • Improve services and reach to Aboriginal Veterans and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (serving and retired) in remote communities.
  • Address the proposed changes to the Earnings Loss Benefit as this may create a disincentive to wellness. (Note: the Policy Advisory Group is the lead on this issue).

Other

  • Close the gaps between the Pension Act and the New Veterans Charter.
    (Note: the Policy Advisory Group is the lead on this issue).

Forward Agenda and Next Steps

  • Proposed presentations:
    • My VAC Account (drawing on advice and experience of Service Ontario);
    • Service Delivery Initiatives (transition, forms, Government commitments outlined in the Minister’s mandate letter, including lifelong pensions); and
    • Service Delivery Review.
  • Confirm Co-Chair.
  • Face-to-face meeting in June 2016 to be confirmed.
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