Canadian Veterans Advocacy

Sunday, November 20, 2016

New announcement: Mefloquine News Articles

A Clinical Drug Trial Gone Wrong and the Unfinished Business of the Somalia Affair

Top military physician skeptical about toxicity of malaria medication

Malaria drug's effect on troops should be examined: Somalia inquiry head

Defence Minister puts onus on troops while defending use of harmful malaria drug

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The The Canadian Veterans Advocacy - One Veteran, One Standard Team.

New announcement: Ottawa promises to overhaul mental-health services for military

Ottawa promises to overhaul mental-health services for military

Les Perreaux AND Renata D'Aliesio

MONTREAL and TORONTO — The Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016 9:26PM EST

Last updated Friday, Nov. 18, 2016 10:49AM EST


A year Ago: Defence Minister vows to prioritize mental health of soldiers at every stage

This article is part of The Unremembered, a Globe and Mail investigation into soldiers and veterans who died by suicide after deployment during the Afghanistan mission.

The mental-health system for treating military personnel and veterans will undergo a sweeping overhaul to better care for them from boot camp through their retirement years, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has revealed.

Top-ranking officials in Defence and Veterans Affairs are looking at "creating a new structure that's going to not just look after the veteran at the end but start with keeping our soldiers healthy when they're in the military," Mr. Sajjan said in an interview with The Globe and Mail.

The minister was not prepared to go into detail on what the overhaul will look like, but he did say he hopes to have a detailed plan in place in 2017. The Trudeau government promised a joint suicide-prevention strategy for veterans and soldiers when it came to office last year after a Globe investigation revealed 54 Afghanistan war vets took their own lives. That toll is now up to 71.

Read more: Remembering 31 Canadian Afghanistan war veterans lost to suicide

Read more: Suicide toll reveals how system failed Canada's soldiers and veterans

Critics have long complained of a major gap in services between the Canadian Armed Forces and civilian life where veterans mainly rely on patchwork provincial systems and where Veterans Affairs falls out of contact with the majority of retired soldiers. Many soldiers and veterans have also criticized the slow pace of reform.

A Globe investigation this month into 31 of the 71 confirmed suicide cases of soldiers who served in Afghanistan shed new light on some of those failings. Their families reported incomplete screening, delayed care, ineffective treatment and insufficient support. Most soldiers also expressed dread at the prospect of leaving the military before they died. The 31 accounts are the most comprehensive public record of Canada's Afghanistan war veterans lost to suicide.

About 27 per cent of veterans face financial, employment, mental or physical health issues when they leave the Canadian Armed Forces, according to Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr. "We are setting up our department to chip away at that number by giving them a road map when they leave the Canadian Armed Forces to find their new normal," he said in an interview.

Mr. Hehr doesn't see the creation of any new structure from his side, however, suggesting a more gradual approach boosting Veterans Affairs involvement when military personnel depart the armed forces. "We'll work with existing structures to have a real closing of the seams," he said.

Mr. Sajjan seems intent on a bolder plan, including a long-awaited overhaul of the Joint Personnel Support Unit that was established in 2008 and was meant to help soldiers recover from physical and psychological wounds and ease transition out of the military.

Many former soldiers and their families describe it as little more than a way stop on their way out. The recent Globe investigation showed eight of 31 suicide cases were attached to JPSUs. On Nov. 12, a ninth soldier whose last post was at the JPSU killed himself, the Globe has confirmed.

"I would not call it a failure," Mr. Sajjan said. "When it was created it met the need it was trying to meet. But it needs to evolve. We're looking at the entire system and how the JPSU is structured is going to be part of it."

Retired sergeant-major Barry Westholm, who quit the Eastern Ontario JPSU and the Forces in 2013 because of chronic staffing shortages and insufficient training, said reviews of the unit are taking too long and no tangible improvements have yet been made, despite repeated pledges to fix the broken soldier-support system. He noted long-standing problems at the JPSU have caused a lot of heartache.

"They're releasing these poor people in terrible states knowingly and causing, I believe, ultimately suicides," said Mr. Westholm, who was a founding member of the JPSU. He joined the casualty support unit in 2009 because he believed in the concept and wanted to help battered soldiers returning from Afghanistan. He still believes in the JPSU, but said significant improvements are desperately needed to help ill and wounded military members.

"We knew in short order the troubles that the unit faced," said Mr. Westholm, who spoke about the JPSU before the Veterans Affairs Committee this past May. "We knew by 2010 we were in trouble. And the entire time, between now and then, it's been the same. No change. They have just been dragging their feet, for whatever reason. I would really love to know the reason."

Both ministers insisted they feel a sense of urgency to fill cracks in the system between military and civilian life. Mr. Hehr would like to reinforce new initiatives such as including Veterans Affairs staff in the military release process and conducting exit interviews with soldiers.

Mr. Sajjan, a former soldier who served three times in Afghanistan, suggests more expansive measures.

A wounded soldier "leaves and then goes on to Veterans Affairs to deal with the file and [the veteran] has to convince Veterans Affairs of what actually happened," Mr. Sajjan said.

"That piece is going to be sorted out. … It can't just be remaking the way the system was."

If you would like your relative included in the commemoration project of Afghanistan war veterans lost to suicide, please e-mail

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

New announcement: Ste. Anne's Hospital...ref Mr. Marcel Beluse ,"A TALE OF TWO CITIES" (OTTAWA-QC)

Ste. Anne's Hospital...ref Mr. Marcel Beluse ,"A TALE OF TWO CITIES" (OTTAWA &QUEBEC)

To Whom It May Concern....and sure as hell it should concern anyone who is at all concerned about the continuing welfare of the hundreds of helpless Veterans still surviving (but hardly thriving) at Ste. Anne's Hospital, following the April Fool's Day transfer of that once-fine facility to the ministrations of La Belle Province.

Hereunder, you will (I trust) be (dis)pleased to find a verbatim copy of a no-laughing -matter letter recently received from Ms Micheline Beluse, the devoted but disillusioned daughter of a Veteran on my floor, disappointed and despairing of the current care and treatment being tendered to her frail and ailing father.

It is my contention, and that of Micheline and a plentitude of other persons partial to the better interests of our vulnerable (albeit not always venerable) Veterans, that the promised prior level of care is not being accorded to them, in accordance with the underlying terms of the Transfer Agreement, which are being blatantly broken and breached at turn after turn, day after day.

Such palpable violations are manifested and exemplified in the poignant and pathetic letter below, presented as it is, for what it is, and representing but one voice on behalf of just one of the many other Veterans who are subject to similar egregious experiences, which are all too often, for reasons of feared retaliation, not voiced with volition.

It is my fervent plea--and hope-- that the elements so expounded and exposed in Ms Beluse's compelling communication, will be considered and corrected by the Transition Committee, not just as specific situations, but as symptoms of the overall and underlying primary problems permeating Ste. Anne's Hospital as we know it today Those dire and destructive
"TEN PLAGUES" , from which most of the ills besetting the patients infiltrate into their daily life routines, lie embedded within the faults and flaws to be found in the new nature of, and Provincial personnel protocols pertaining to and/or producing, the following :.....


Now, "cut & paste", or superimpose that plethora of problems upon the proper level of care pledged to our Veterans, and, inevitably, those negatives will produce a picture of pure chaos, consternation, confusion and concern affecting the patients, in place of the constant core of comfort , contentment and confidence which prevailed in the pre-Provincial period.

Unless and until principal personnel policy and procedural changes are promptly and positively designed and implemented by the Transition Committee, fully reinforced by "the full faith and credit" of Veterans Affairs Canada, the disease duo of decline and deterioration will spread and infect the few, final years left to the final, few Veterans still left, b seeking sanctuary and shelter, in the dwindling shadow of Ste. Anne's Hospital, originally intended to serve as their penultimate place of peace and rest, not trauma and turmoil.

Having pronounced my preamble, I will now clear the way for Ms Micheline Beluse to present her compelling case, on behalf of her father and his fellow-Veterans.


Wolf Solkin
Ste. Anne's Hospital


July 13 2016

Hello, Mr. Solkin
This follows the discussion we had last week and I thank you for your help and patience.

On Monday I went to my father's closet to get him a clean shirt and found that the ones we had put in the wash more than 2 weeks ago had not been returned. I then went to the sock and underwear drawer and found that Dad had not been putting his underwear in the wash. I looked at the socks…I had been wondering why he was washing them himself and found that most of the socks I had bought him were gone. I asked Paul the attendant on Dad's floor and Gercia the nurse about this and they both said that the people who pick up the bags for the wash don't sort out what is taken care of at Ste-Anne and the pieces such as facecloths, towels and sheets that are being sent out to an independent facility. The result is that clothes disappear. The independent facility does not return the residents' clothing despite the fact everything is clearly identified with name, floor, Ste-Anne Hospital. I asked what was being done since I don't seem to be the first family member to be confused about this…and they had no idea. All they could tell me is that the staff is constantly reminded not to send out the personal clothing but the constant rotation I now have to go buy Dad new clothes, trust that they will be properly identified and returned…but I have my doubts. My Dad is now paranoid about changing his clothes…

I have noticed that there is a change in the quality of the food that is fed to the residents. I thought it was just me so I asked the other residents if they had noticed anything as well. Yes they had. As an example, I was with Dad at lunchtime and he had a sandwich, fruit, milk and tea. I was sure dinner would be more copious and better balanced. In fact dinner was a very small helping of baked beans, fries, ketchup and a desert. The residents are not complaining and I asked why…the answer was they are afraid of reprisals and the people attending meals can't do anything about replacing a meal that is not satisfactory. I am perplexed. The dietician in charge of our unit is Monica, very devoted and attentive to the residents. She is present at almost every lunch time but appears to be unable to control what comes up from the kitchens… In the past the meals were served at a fixed time…on the dot. Now the meals can be up to an hour late. In the past if a resident was unable to eat the food or found it unpalatable or was dissatisfied, a substitute was provided. This no longer happens. The meal is the meal, like it or leave it. I have asked Dad to keep the meal slips for me so that I can see what he is fed since I am not present at all sittings.

I have to say that the food at the cafeteria is not what it used to be either…but I am not a resident and have a choice to go elsewhere. The Veterans don't.
On the subject: One of Dad's little joys is his daily can of Pepsi. I got a call from Monica last week and she was upset. Apparently the contractor has been changed and only Coke is being served now. Dad got really upset with Monica who can do little about it. She asked me could I please run by the store and bring him some to keep him happy. I did. What I don't understand is that the little snack bar in the atrium doesn't seem to have a problem getting soft drinks but the hospital does.

We now seem to have won the war of toilet paper penury. To palliate I have brought in extras that I put in the night table by Dad's bed. It only took a little over a month to convince the staff in charge of sanitation that a person in a wheelchair and who is on stool softeners cannot access the extra rolls set on top of the paper towel dispenser. A little over a month and a few trips to Walmart. M

The facecloths and towels are not regularly furnished or replaced. The result is that Dad may have to use the same facecloth and towel for several days…they get to have an unpleasant odor.

We now have a problem with the designated 'family room'. When Dad was admitted and the Federal Government was in charge of Ste-Anne the current situation did not exist. As a family member I am restricted to the use of the bathroom in that room. I cannot use the resident's facilities…none of them. Now I find that if I need to go to the bathroom, there is likely a staff member there and I have to wait my turn. The staff also uses the room for naps and snacks. Last week I had to ask permission to go use the staff bathroom as the family room's was occupied but the staff's wasn't. From October to April this did not happen once. With personnel cuts this should not happen. The attendants I know say that either they use the family room facilities or have to wait for the relief person to come and take over while they run to the staff bathroom.

The family room runs out of soap on a regular basis as does the large resident bathroom in the hallway. I spoke to Simon Leblanc about all this. Nothing has changed.

I have asked to meet with Dr. Richer who has now taken over Dad's care. I hope to see her at the upcoming interdisciplinary meeting on the 22nd. That I know of, there have been no full checkups or bloodwork done on Dad since the takeover. He has gained a lot of weigh and I am concerned. The nurses have put notes in his record. He has also complained about dry eyes and now I'm waiting to see if anything is being done about this. Catching up with the nurse on duty is not always easy.

There have been three incidences of nigh orderlies (or nurses, hard to tell) coming into Dad's room around 4 A.M. to take blood pressure. Waking an older gentleman at that hour is bad enough but what puts him in a fury is that these 'équipe volante' persist in putting the sides up on his bed. This happened again last week. Dad was furious and the head nurse on duty had to be called in. Dad considers putting up the sides of his bed unnecessary and entering to his room without prior advice or knocking an invasion of privacy. This is his home and in his home he sleeps in the buff and goes to the bathroom at least twice in the nighthhb…he doesn't want to hit his head on the metal sides either. The relief people do not read the notes. Fortunately they have stopped trying to take his hearing aids away.

I bought batteries for Dad's hearing aids since the nurses' cabinet didn't have more than 2. I was told that all Dad needed to do was go down to the clinic and ask for some. Dad has no idea how to do this and telling him is useless. He has short term memory loss and gets easily disorientated. I will do this for him now. This never happened before the takeover.

In April, Dad's eyeglass frames had to be repaired and the attendant took them to the clinic. The clinic warned that unfortunately the frames were old and couldn't be repaired again: he needed new glasses. On the 19th Nurse Gercia called for an ophthalmology consult. This was refused because Dad had cancelled his appointment in December while under the influence of a powerful drug administered by the hospital. We were told he would only be seen next December. I had to argue and argue and finally got an appointment on the 19th of June and the glasses are being ordered. If the frames had broken my Dad would have been both hard of hearing and unable to get around…he would have been blind as well.

In April, Dad's wheelchair seat was so soiled that it had become malodorous. I asked that it be cleaned and the request was made. And refused. Apparently this is only done once a year and it wasn't his turn. It was the attendant Paul who went downstairs and did the cleaning himself. Two attendants are still here from the old set: Paul and Julie. We are very grateful for this.

In May, one of the other residents got very belligerent and threatened Dad. He was alarmed and so was I. I had seen that man wheel himself into another resident's room and pick a fight. The attending nurse had run down the hallway at the ruckus and hurriedly wheeled the man away to his room. Neither Dad nor I knew whether the man was able to cause damage. Both Adrienne and I talked to the head nurse to express our concerned and the whole matter was pretty much dismissed until we said the next time we would have Dad call the police…this was scoffed at as the police could do nothing. We pointed out that at least there would be a record of the event and if things turned ugly the hospital would be held responsible. The situation has not re-occurred and the resident is now nowhere near my father.

All and all, Mr. Solkin, things are more and more difficult since the takeover. It seems like a whole lot of little problems and some serious ones are forcing me to have boots on the ground and eyes all around which did not happen under the old regime. I had complete confidence in the care and attention to detail. My Dad was safe and well taken care of. If I had a problem, I would speak to the nurse and she would refer me to the proper department…case solved. Now, I never know what next and I find Dad becoming more irascible as obstacles pile up.

Thanks again for your attention and help

Micheline Beluse, Marcel Beluse's daughter

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The The Canadian Veterans Advocacy - One Veteran, One Standard Team.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016



One day, earlier this week, I decided to keep a mini-journal of my experiences, "for the record". The day began like most other days (since we were handed. over by The Government of Canada to that of Quebec), with breakfast being served almost one hour later than should be the case, because of insufficient staff. This, in turn, caused delays and even cancellations of other scheduled appointments and activities further on, with consequent consternation and confusion for me and, especially, some of my more fragile fellow-Vets.

Next to arrive , was a new-ish nurse with my medications, and for the third time in as many weeks, I found that (the same) med was missing, and had to bring that to the nurse's attention, as she had apparently not had enough time or training to thoroughly check my dosage dossier.
It was no big deal for me, because I am, fortunately, still adequately alert and reasonably vocal enough, to rectify such a situation in timely fashion....but what of those of my comrades who may not be quite as cognizant, attentive and verbal as I ?

Then came a lone orderly, new to me, but with one month on the job, well-spoken (albeit in French only), who was sufficiently self-conscious of her lack of experience, to ask me what I needed done, to prepare me for the day. That was reasonably acceptable to me***, rather than, as has been too often the case with other "new"orderlies, to have them burst in like the proverbial bull in a china-shop, leaving complete chaos in their wake. But again, how are similar situations being handled by some of my buddies who neither understand nor speak French, even as fractured as mine ? How can they possibly communicate their needs and routines to a unilingual, novice nurse or orderly, especially if they are too challenged or fearful to be able to express their wants, let alone object to their treatment, in whatever language ?
***[Notwithstanding, I must confess to an increasing weariness on my part with having to deal, every damnable day, with so many floor personnel who are still using training wheels, and are only truly qualified for a "Learner's license". I didn't sign on to be their teacher/supervisor !].

Following that, with a blood pressure machine in tow, there arrived an "old guard " nurse who, while normally on nights, was today (yet again) called in for special day shift duty, to fill another one in the seemingly ceaseless stream of short-of-staff spots. Her major complaints centred on the incessant, continuing conditions compelling her, and her colleagues and orderlies, to be constantly changing wings and floors, as well as shifts, causing the employees to have a sinking sense of instability, compounded by irritability, further resulting in riding roughshod over her patients, exacerbating their existing timidity and insecurity, fueled by their inherent fear of the unfamiliar and the unexpected.

She has, as indeed I have from the outset, placed the blame for the current crisis in the staff situation upon the Province's deliberate policy of replacing virtually every one of the previous (Federal) full-time nurse and orderly positions with two half-time jobs . It is said by some apologists that Quebec's reason for this major change in our staff structure, was to achieve greater efficiency, but the consensus among those in the line of fire, is that the true motive was to save mounds of money, by not having the obligation to contribute to pensions, sick leave pay, paid vacations and other pricey "perks" mandated for full-time personnel. That may be so, superficially, but the negative result is that too many employees, now hired for only two or three shifts per week, and thus unable to provide for their basic needs, are compelled to seek a second job elsewhere. As a consequence, they are usually unavailable when called in to replace "no-shows", leaving yawning gaps in service and
causing inevitable collateral damage to the high level of service publicly pledged to me and my housemates, by Veterans Affairs Canada.

As well, these part-timers,primarily new hires, inevitably develop little or no loyalty toward Ste. Anne's or its patients, as they fast come to consider this as "just another job". Moreover, since they are treated and referred to more as numbers, rather than by name, they tend, in turn, to treat me and my band of brothers more with indifference, than within a common culture of care and compassion, which previously existed. It may indeed be , that "What happens in Vegas , stays in Vegas", but it is equally true that WHAT HAPPENS TO OUR STAFF, STAYS WITH OUR VETERANS, as one is the inseparable, interdependent Yin to the Yang of the other.

My next visitor was a third and highly qualified, experienced nurse, who bemoaned the frustrating fact that her shift, which normally called for five orderlies, was short-changed by having only three report for duty, ( for a 40% staff shortage !), creating a far heavier work load for her than normal, amid the additional frenzied preparations obliging all the employees (but one), to leave the floor for duty at the monthly "Community Luncheon" in the auditorium. She shared with me that she has for so long been upset by, and "sick and tired"of the current, ongoing dreadful state of affairs, with its negative impact upon her work and added stress upon her well-being, that she is very seriously considering quitting her job, much as she would hate the thought of "abandoning my Veterans" after so many years in their service. But she feels that her ongoing fatigue and irritability could cause her to make mistakes, be short-tempered with her staff and patients, and lose focus just whe
n she might need it most. All to the detriment of her cherished charges.

My next notable encounter was with my new Doctor, in whom I have every confidence as a competent and caring professional. Her major drawback, however. Is the new (Provincial) protocol, which makes her available to me, or any one patient on any given floor, only one day per week,( barring an exigent emergency), rather than much more often, as was the practise in the past. The disadvantages to me, and my confreres, of such a restricted regimen , is self-evident.

The last "event" of the day, was the full-cycle appearance on the scene of still one more, fresh-of-face and noticeably nervous new orderly, assigned to prepare me for sleep, who almost laughably queried, "What should I do, sir?".... The only part of that question that I did not bristle at, was the nostalgically satisfying sound of "sir".

Over the course of just this one day, I was subject to a full range of the root circumstances and experiences encompassing the basic ills besetting me and my beleaguered brothers and sisters, in what is being publicly, but improperly, proclaimed as a successful and "seamless transition". We are facing the onslaught of our very own, non-Biblical, version of "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse : Staff Standards, Staff Training, Staff Shortages and Shifts, and Staff Performance, to which I would dare add yet a fifth and sixth "riders", namely, lower Staff Values, and severe Staff Malaise.
I have treated with these plagues before, but like the self-same Bible, it bears reviewing daily.

These actual incidents encompass my litany of the acts and facts contributing to and culminating in the veritable violation of those specific terms of the Transfer Agreement, which were designed to guarantee my/our rights to a continued, undiluted, undegraded level/standard of care at Ste. Anne's Hospital.

Sad to say , my typical day is a clear manifestation of that failure, and I unhesitatingly forecast that conditions will continue to deteriorate, failing drastic intervention by our erstwhile guardians at Veterans Affairs Canadami, as time "progresses", and as increasing numbers of civilian patients are transferred here, from other Provincial facilities, to fill all four of our empty floors.

By then, the (in)famous Transfer Agreement, might just as well have been writ in invisible ink, which can only be brought to life again by the might and ministrations of the Ministry of Veterans Affairs.

So fasten your seat belts, Ladies and Gentlemen, it's going to be a bumpy ride !


Wolf William Solkin
Ste. Anne's Hospital


Hi, Michel: as a precursor to your meeting of the Transition Committee, come June 14th, I had an unexpected and fortuitous visit to my HQ, just yesterday, from a very fine, but palpably perturbed lady, Micheline Beluse, whose father, is a WW II Veteran here at the transferred (and transformed) Ste. Anne's Hospital.

Ms. Beluse had inquired about whom she should approach for assistance, and was referred to me , rather than to the Residents' Committee or the Ombudsman, as an advocate with possible influence and some integrity. After she had recounted her story, I requested that she commit the gist of it to writing, so that I could vouch for its validity, if challenged. What follows is a verbatim, true transcription of the brief letter she willingly penned, in my presence :

"10 June 2016
Went to visit my Dad,Marcel Beluse, at lunch time on Tuesday, and two of the residents complained that their lunch (the meat) was inedible. They were quite vocal about it in French and English - no offer to replace the meal was made***. The meal was already 45 minutes late, and one of the residents had left the (dining) room having lost his appetite. As I was leaving one of the two residents approached me and said--'WILL YOU SPEAK FOR US, PLEASE ? WE NO LONGER HAVE A VOICE', This was the most distressing thing I have ever heard. The poor man was distraught and was pleading with me. He also said they were afraid to say anything".

(Sgd.) Micheline Beluse
***[such an offer is supposed to be, and previously was, standard practise].

There is little or nothing I could possibly add to this absolutely angering and terribly tragic exposure of the innermost feelings of serious sadness and hopelessness, pervading among far too many of our hapless Veterans.

It gives me no satisfaction whatsoever to know that I had correctly anticipated and announced such an outcome, among others, following the by-now legendary but, I trust, discredited "seamless transition". The only satisfaction I could ever possibly derive from such a scenario, would come, if that day ever arrives, when I can, happily and gratefully. no longer deem it necessary to publicly air similar sorrowful stories, and devote my iPad to "the good stuff", instead of inspiring only tears and fears.

I need now take the liberty, on my own behalf and that of many other of my fellow- Veterans at Ste. Anne's, to express heartfelt thanks to Ms. Micheline Beluse, for her courageous initiative and strength of purpose in standing up, publicly, to safeguard the rights of her father and his companionate Veterans, (myself proudly included), currently "confined to barracks", for the duration.


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Saturday, May 14, 2016

New announcement: Veteran Family Program

Did you know? The Veteran Family Program is a four-year pilot that extends the Military Family Services Program to medically-released Veterans and their families for a period of two years from release.

More Information:…/VeteranF…/EN/Pages/default.aspx

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

New announcement: Downsizing at Department of Veterans Affairs Charlottetown?

Downsizing at Department of Veterans Affairs Charlottetown?

Published on April 28, 2016

© Guardian file photo

Department of Veterans Affairs

A few weeks ago, The Guardian published an editorial asking why many senior level management jobs at Veterans Affairs headquarters in Charlottetown are apparently being filled by people in Ottawa. It's curious the department hasn't responded, nor has an inquiry with VAC communications been answered. We can only conclude that senior level jobs are in fact moving to Ottawa.

Kent Hehr, the new minister of Veterans Affairs, and all of his senior level team recently assembled in Charlottetown for meetings. Neither the minister nor any of his senior staff made any public appearances while on P.E.I.

Why the secrecy? Why was there no public comment by Mr. Hehr about the future of Veterans Affairs? Why was there no effort to allay fears being raised about downsizing? Was there a meeting with our premier, city mayor or MPs to reinforce that all is well at VAC? Why did the minister avoid media questions?

Maybe there is a reason. It appears that Mr. Hehr and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould recently entered into an agreement to dismantle the VAC stand-alone, legal services unit - in existence since the department was formed. It appears they agreed to transfer responsibility for providing VAC legal services to a federal department in Ottawa - Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).

A Guardian inquiry on this transfer has gone unanswered. New lawyers from Ottawa are taking calls and attending meetings that used to be handled by lawyers working in Charlottetown. Two senior lawyer positions at VAC are now held by lawyers who live and work in Ottawa.

The trend seems clear. First, senior management jobs quietly migrate to Ottawa; then IT Services and the entire HR division are relocated to Miramichi, N.B.; and now legal services is dismantled. The era of blaming the former Conservative government of Stephen Harper is over. The deserving finger is being pointed at the new Liberal government and Mr. Hehr.

The type of law that lawyers at ESDC practice is quite different from what Veterans Affairs lawyers would practice. Does this change in dealing with veterans and VAC legal issues mean they will be handled like EI claims - very litigious and aggressive?

Why would Mr. Hehr agree to surrender in-house legal services to ESDC, that serves more than a dozen other federal departments and has an unknown skill set for the needs of veterans. Did the two ministers inform fellow cabinet minister Lawrence MacAulay? Or the justice minister's own parliamentary secretary Sean Casey, the MP for Charlottetown?

Three major VAC units have been taken over by ESDC, which is responsible for paying benefits, Employment Insurance, Age Security, CPP and more. While VAC still pays disability pensions and benefits, doesn't it seem reasonable that its entire benefit payment component is the next to go?

What would be left here - a small department that could easily be absorbed by national defence? ESDC has no commitment to veterans or loyalty to Islanders. The federal government appears to be shirking its obligations to P.E.I. and to veterans. And no one seems to care.

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

New announcement: VAC Stakeholders

Stakeholders. Lordy, lot of yipping about stakeholders now that victory is within grasp and most, if not all, have now embraced the mandate letter.

I have no idea what the criteria the new government has set reference Stake holder "summit" invitations or involvement on the six advisory groups struck. The CVA were invited by the Conservative government 5 years ago, to date., there has been no change to the status quo other than increased involvement in advisory group activity.

I do not know about many of the "newbies", there are over thirty organizations now, charities, for profit, some that are obscure. I know that we fought for inclusion, held a D Day "vigil" to remind them of their promises and the consequences of failure.

We held frank, yet always respectful discussions with the minister during budget week, the Sacred Obligation principles were once again clearly refined, particularly in reference to the promised return to the Pension Act and equality between ELB and SISIP. Hehr told me that the CVA was being invited to hold HIM to account, to ensure the promises made to veterans were fulfilled with in the mandate, which he promised to do.

I have accepted.

I fully plan on holding them to account.

I do not what the new government's criteria is in reference to the others or their motives. As you know, the Liberal promises closely resemble the CVA Harmonization plan, this is not random. We are non partisan, and after securing the NDP's support, worked the liberals damn hard, pre-Trudeau and after, seeking a harmonized return to the pension act with a plan that respects the needs of those who served in war and the older generation, many who would prefer an LSA.

Promises have been made. The CVA has been invited to some of these advisory groups and "summit" to ensure these promises are kept and provide assistance at the group level to create proposals that are truly reflective of the mandate letter and the opportunity to collectively redress the major issues.

The bump to the LSA has concerned many veterans who wish to return to the pension Act, I have been asked a hundred times if not more why would the government bump up the LSA if they are planning on returning to the Pension Act?

Of course, I do not know but were I to speculate I could think of some reasons off hand. The legion and those composing the stakeholders group rallied behind a similar number and were actively promoting during the past couple of years. They would use the tort law as justification, which bring up a second likely reason, the Equitas lawsuit and the legal reference to subparity to average tort law (negligence at the work site). Perhaps it was to provide inclusion for all who were affected by the NVC LSA; the Critical Injury Benefit was very selective, while it might have applied and satisfied the Equitas litigants injuries, restrictive criteria ensured it did not apply equally to all veterans as will the increase once it passes through legislation.

I would also note, for what it is worth to you -Im not going to argue with the anti-liberal quotient- , the mandate is clear on providing a choice between the Pension act and the LSA, with an increase to the LSA. I do not know if the 360 threshold is far as they are prepared to go, whether we can get it higher during the ongoing discussions, but I do know that the Pension Act is in the mandate letter, their is unity with every stakeholder i have spoken to re pension act return and if the government is sincere, proposals will be presented prior to the next budget that will continue to address the issues many of us have been fighting for, or suffering through, these past many years.

FYI. There were over thirty organizations present at the summit last December, I read something the other day that might indicate the "summit" number will be expanded significantly.

I would encourage you to get engaged. While things are progressing according to my expectations (it has been six months- six of the fifteen mandate letter promises are already going through parliament) there is still the need to apply pressure through the base.

Stay focused on the mandate letter and the choice of returning to the Pension Act. This is new territory for some orgs, the mandate letter has circumvented their galvanization agenda. If you want your voice heard, do something about it!

Reach out.

Start speaking out not on facebook or these never ending email chains but where it will make a difference. If nothing else, write some emails to the PM, Ministers, parl secretary, use your membership with any organization to your advantage, send an email to their national presidents encouraging them to rally formally in favour of the Pension Act promises and other important issues identified in the mandate letter.

New Initiative to Consult with Veterans Stakeholders - Advisory groups to improve transparency and engage with Veterans

OTTAWA, April 15, 2016 /CNW/ - The Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, today announced a new initiative to broaden engagement with stakeholders. Six ministerial advisory groups are being put in place as part of his commitment to improve transparency and support consultation to address important Veterans' issues.

The six advisory groups will focus on policy, service excellence, mental health, families, care and support and commemoration. Each group will be comprised of up to twelve members, and participants will appoint a chair from their membership. A senior departmental official will also be selected to co-chair each group and a representative of the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman will be invited to attend the meetings as an observer. Current members' names will be updated as the advisory groups are established and their membership confirmed.

The overall goal is to engage with stakeholders, work toward common goals and seek advice and input on new and existing initiatives to support Veterans. The six advisory groups will help inform policy and program development as well as service delivery at Veterans Affairs Canada. This will ensure all areas reflect the changing needs of Veterans and their families. Records of discussion of these meetings will also be posted as they become available.

A Ministerial stakeholder summit with broader representation is planned for May 9-10, 2016, in Ottawa. The summit will provide an opportunity to collaborate, share views and gather information on topics that are important to Veterans and their families. This is a follow-up to the December 2015 Stakeholder Summit whose record of discussion is posted online.

Quick Facts

Advisory groups provide an opportunity for early and ongoing dialogue with stakeholders and serve as a sounding board for the development of Veterans Affairs Canada's policies, programs and services.
Advisory group members are selected in consultation with stakeholder groups and based on their interests and involvement within the Veteran community. Membership of these groups is still being finalized and will be made public once confirmed.
Veterans Affairs Canada will continue to listen to all interested and engaged stakeholders regardless of their involvement in any of these groups.
Stakeholder Summits are large, in-person events to discuss stakeholder priorities. Representatives from nearly 30 stakeholder groups attended the last Stakeholder Summit on December 2, 2015.


"Through our new initiative, I want to create a space and forum for stakeholders to give me their advice and suggestions. It is not our position to tell Veterans and their families what they need—we want to hear from them. Our new strategy, including the six advisory groups, will help us build stronger relationships with Veterans and the organizations that represent them."
The Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister for National Defence

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The The Canadian Veterans Advocacy - One Veteran, One Standard Team.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

New announcement: Rude Awakening: The Government's Secret War Against Canada's Veterans

Rude Awakening: The Government's Secret War Against Canada's Veterans [Kindle Edition]

Following a military career of over thirty years, which includes deployments to Bosnia and Afghanistan, Colonel Pat Stogran becomes Canada's first Veterans Ombudsman. The new Office of the Veterans Ombudsman is intended to be a symbol of Canada's commitment to the members and veterans of the Canadian Forces, who accept unlimited liability in the service of our country and often make traumatic, life-altering sacrifices. Colonel Stogran is proud to take the assignment, seeing it as an opportunity to give back to all those who serve. But in the next three years, as he encounters nothing but intransigence and malfeasance in the hallowed halls of government, he undergoes a rude awakening to the cesspool of callousness, deceit, and neglect that is the Government of Canada's response to the needs of its veterans. Stogran's exposure to the real Government of Canada, which is hidden from the view of mainstream Canadians, reveals that it is nothing like the myth that has been built up around it as a caring and committed model for the rest of the world. It is an experience he describes as more traumatic than the years he spent in war zones, and it will cause him to question what it really means to be a Canadian. Part shocking exposé, part dire and urgent warning, Rude Awakening reveals a culture of government that victimizes our veterans and could also very well threaten the quality of life we all enjoy as Canadians.

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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.