Veterans Ombudsman’s 2013-2014 Annual Report Tabled
November 4, 2014 - Ottawa, Ontario
The 2013-2014 Annual Report of the Veterans Ombudsman tabled in the House of Commons yesterday reflects an action-packed year. Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent believes that it would be fair to say that it was the busiest year to date since the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman (OVO) began operations in 2007. The OVO’s frontline team in Charlottetown alone had 6,500 contacts from nearly 1,300 stakeholders, resulting in the creation of 2,130 case files addressed through the provision of information, a referral or an intervention.
“It cannot be denied that there has been forward movement on Veterans’ issues in the past year,” said Mr. Parent. “Now that the Government of Canada has reacted favourably to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs’ June 2014 Report on the New Veterans Charter (NVC), the time has arrived to resolve the shortcomings of its programs, benefits and services provided to Canadian Armed Forces members, Veterans, spouses and survivors. That is what Veterans and their families expect. My team and I are ready to work diligently with the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Veterans Affairs Canada to achieve that goal.”
"Our Government is committed to moving forward to ensure Canada's Veterans and their families have the benefits and services they need. I thank the Veterans Ombudsman for his dedication and hard work in support of our brave men and women who have served in uniform." said the Hon. Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs.
Mr. Parent said his small but dedicated team in Charlottetown and Ottawa had achieved several major milestones in 2013-2014. The first was helping to broaden the NVC parliamentary review to include the whole Charter – not just the sections amended by the Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act. The OVO and Veterans’ organizations had advocated for the complete review of the Charter for some time and in the fall of 2013, the Minister of Veterans Affairs Julian Fantino responded and announced a “…comprehensive review to place a special focus on the most seriously injured, support for families and the delivery of programs by Veterans Affairs Canada”.
The second milestone was a series of in-depth analyses of key issues, published in six reviews and reports, including Improving the New Veterans Charter: The Parliamentary Review, Investing in Veterans Vocational Training and Improving the New Veterans Charter: The Report that, along with its actuarial analysis played an important role at the parliamentary hearings, serving as a guide to discussions and deliberations. Other reviews included: A Review of the Support Provided by Veterans Affairs Canada through its Long-Term Care Program and A Review of the Support Provided by Veterans Affairs Canada through its Veterans Independence Program.
The third milestone was an enhanced level of OVO engagement with the Veterans’ community. Through one-on-one meetings, telephone calls, emails, town halls, blogs, news events, news articles, opinion pieces, editorials and social media, the Office reached out to and connected with more Veterans and their families than ever before, and Veterans responded generously with their time and experiences by sharing not only their worries and concerns, but also their ideas on how to solve Veterans’ outstanding issues.
“I am very proud of what my team has accomplished in 2013-2014,” said Mr. Parent. “But,” he cautioned, “there is still much left to be done to ensure that Veterans and their families receive the support they need.”