Created  with
 db QwikSite Personal
Not for Commercial Use     

Query_Record_Type More Info.

ADMIN OnLine Database
All Records Word Search Query-Record Type

All News

Query-Article Type

Query_Record_Type More Info.
Article Date01-01-2007
Record TYPEPeriodical
Article TOPIC 
Article TitlePeriodical Jan 2007
Article Content
Issue No: 200712
English  Francais

Print Version
Table of Contents
What is
Volume II of the Disability Pension Program Evaluation
Veteran Watch - A New Lobby Group (see links)
How you can help!
Recommended Links
VVi is for you, all veterans, regardless of whether you belong to a veteran organization or not. VVi is a distribution centre, a conduit for making sure that the information you need as a veteran is there for you in a timely fashion. Our aim is to provide a forum for all Canadian veterans, serving members and their families to have access to information pertaining to veteran rights.
VVi is an independent site, not associated with any governmental department, agency or veteran organization. is maintained by independent contributions.
Return to Top
Volume II of the Disability Pension Program Evaluation
Final: July 2005
I read through this report and found it interesting reading because it does clearly identify some of the common problems systemic to VAC. There is a marked difference in the perception of VAC between the various focus groups.=
I wish that I had read it prior to the publication of VOICE.
VRAB (Section 3.4)
“What was of interest to the Evaluation Team was focus group feedback from pension clients who had direct (although not always recent) experiences appearing before VRAB Members. This feedback centered on VRAB hearings being rushed, demeaning and adversarial; VRAB members appearing to be insensitive, and without relevant experience (military or medical); and VRAB decisions being perceived as arbitrary, in the sense that when clients compared notes with other clients, there were differing results even when the facts in the cases were very similar. Some also said they had the feeling that the decision was already made, and that the hearing itself was therefore somewhat perfunctory.” VAC Disability Assessments (Section 3.5)
“The Table of Disabilities is the instrument used by Veterans Affairs Canada to assess the extent of the disability, i.e., the degree of impairment caused by a pensioned disability for the purposes of payment of a disability pension. It encourages consistency by specifying what level of a pension is to be assessed for a certain level of a medical condition.” Note the following:
“Clients do compare notes with their friends, and are quick to identify situations where an apparently identical set of facts produced differing results from VAC."What upset me was the following statement:
“In 2004-05, the department also carried out consultations with Treasury Board on a study to determine whether or not the TOD could have an effect on disability pension program expenditures. A costing methodology for proving or disproving the cost neutrality of the TOD was completed in conjunction with Finance Division, Treasury Board (TB) and the Department of Finance. The department is now in a position to begin case sampling and providing the required information to Treasury Board for a final decision.” I infer nothing from this, but I do have concerns about saving money versus human welfare.
4.0 Summary and Future Directions
4.1 Back to the Future
“To its credit, VAC has not waited for the results of this evaluation to start a major overhaul of the pension program and process as it applies to its fastest growing clientele: young and middle-aged CF and RCMP clients. The strains of an outmoded system attempting to deal with new client types and new variations of conflicts and missions have been plain to see for some time, and VAC management realizes that the time for tinkering with transition and harmonization initiatives, helpful as they have been, is past. What is needed now is a much more ambitious restructuring that will require legislative changes and a willingness to move to a holistic approach from what has been, to a large extent, a discrete program approach. In a way, such restructuring will be a return to an emphasis on rehabilitation and reestablishment that was such a VAC mainstay in the years following the Second World War.” Please note that this report was written prior to C-45 and the report is referring to VAC’s efforts to create a new charter. Again I want to emphasise the rush to produce a new charter before the various aspects of this report were thoroughly studied. The report states that the Table of Disabilities was still being updated/modernized. It seems that the zealots decided to be pro-active and solve all the problems without understanding the ramifications of their actions. “If asked to sum up the Pension Program Evaluation in a few words, the Evaluation Team would say that Veterans of the First World War, the Second World War, and the Korean War, are being for the most part well served by the VAC pension system, while CF and RCMP clients are not. From a taxpayer point of view, there was also concern over the long-term fiscal liability of paying lifetime pensions within a system that provides little motivation to get better, and few programs to address the needs not addressed by existing programs. In fact, the financial motivation is in the opposite direction - the more health conditions that are presented, the higher the likely total remuneration, as long as one is willing to keep applying again, and if unsuccessful, let the appeal process unfold. This process is, as one VAC official put it, "the only nail clients have to hammer," given the current lack of rehabilitative programming.” I highlighted the words that would be most frightening to a bean counter. It gives the impression that modern vets only want pensions. This has to be taken in context and I think that VAC has developed a ridged mindset as suggested in the infamous words of Jack Stagg that I have often quoted. He viewed modern veterans as very demanding in some greedy desire to line their pockets. One alternate view is more likely what we share in common and that is getting a supplemental pension and other benefits because of medical conditions arising from military service. SISIP provides us with some of the same programs as presented in C-45 (NVC) so it is logical to apply for everything in accordance with the instructions that the CF provides to retiring personnel. These include CPP and VAC programs.
The biggest problem with the system is that it becomes confusing because of the requirement to satisfy different agencies. It can be a daunting task because of the numerous forms and supplements that must be completed. CFSA, SISIP, CPP, VAC and other acronyms require personnel to go through a steep learning curve to master the application process. Factor in medical problems and you have a recipe for disaster. CF release financial counseling should be a specialty just to minimize the irregularities.
“As noted in Volume I of this report, and in the 2000 Report of the Auditor General, the VAC Disability Pension Program is seen as being sorely in need of a strategy to adapt to changing circumstances. Why the pressing need to change? The short answer is that the current program is costing more and more money each year while delivering services that suit older clients but are not appropriate for a rapidly emerging younger clientele.” “On the money side, the worry is that the program as currently operated is building up a financial liability that will be an onerous burden to tomorrow's taxpayers.” Again the emphasis on money scares me. The bureaucratic concern is that modern veterans will all be parasites and the country cannot afford it. This again incorrectly assumes that every veteran is greedy.
This ignores the fact that veterans are only entitled to programs and services if there is a recognized and legitimate reason, specifically medical conditions. A healthy young veteran should be denied access to VAC services that are for disabled veterans. This should be self-evident, but again the perception of greedy veterans may be tainting perceptions in VAC. This impression is obvious in the next quote:
“Another reason for worry is a growth in participation rates. The First World War participation rate immediately post war was 7.6%. The rate for just after the Second World War was 6.8%. Compare those with the table below which shows the growth in participation rates from 1995-2004, a period when almost all First World War Veterans had passed away and Second World War and Korean War Veterans were aging and therefore more likely to come forward with claims of conditions possibly related to war service. It is obvious that the current participation rate is roughly three times as high as the post-war rates.” Basically as the number of applications increased so did the cost of the programs. For example, in 2001 the cost was $5.6 billion and the expected cost in 2004 was $7.9 billion. (The accumulated government obligation (AGO) for future payments to VAC pension clients, in today's dollars, is calculated annually by the Office of the Chief Actuary.)
What is not considered as a factor is the age range for the various groups. This is similar to the government’s dilemma with Baby Boomers and other identified age groups. Currently, WW2 veterans and dependants are applying for programs in greater numbers; however, this group will significantly decrease in the next decade. It just so happens that in the same period, Baby Boomers begin to collect OAP and CPP. Should we be punished because of the lack of forethought in the federal bureaucracy?
I believe that everyone is being punished for things that should have been considered years ago. Historically the military gets the shaft in the early rounds as bureaucrats try to eliminate costs. It is our fault that the military budget needed to be increased because of the government’s decision to send troops to Afghanistan. It was also our fault when similar decisions were made concerning Somalia, Croatia and Bosnia. Survey Says
One of the last parts of the report concerns the perceptions of the different focus groups. 
“A total of 18 focus groups, encompassing 147 participants, was conducted in May 2003. Six of these, involving 57 participants, were with "traditional" war Veterans, i.e. First, Second World Wars or Korean War. Four focus groups were conducted with former or "still serving" members of the Canadian Forces. Participation was mixed between Army, Navy and Air Force, and between still-serving and former members.” The following general observations should be considered when viewing what clients expect from VAC.
“A summary of the responses, broken down by client type, is shown below:Traditional Veterans - While saying you can never completely compensate for disability with money, these clients generally see an award of a pension as recognition for sacrifice.
CF Clients - The amount of pension compensation awarded is not worth the effort of persevering through what is perceived as an unduly long and CF unfriendly process. Those turned down for an increase in a pension do not feel they are being recognized for their service to the country. These clients feel they are being put in a position of "begging."
Survivors - They see pension awards as recognition and compensation for the extra burden shouldered in caring for Veteran spouses over the years (a higher level of care being required because of service-related injuries or disabilities).
RCMP Clients - Made essentially the same comment as traditional clients.
Declined - Still seeking a VAC disability pension, so feel unrecognized and uncompensated.”CF clients come across as expecting something in return for their services. This is known as reciprocity and is at the center of any labour arrangement. Compensate the worker appropriately for the services rendered. Of course, the military historically has been paid less than others in federal employment, but this does not seem to be an issue in Ottawa. So the bureaucrats think that soldiers should do more work for less pay and be happy. Then they wonder why potential recruits are not filling recruiting centres. What seems to be overlooked is that older and younger military veterans want basically the same thing, “recognition for sacrifice”. “The common thread among all but the declined group is that they perceived VAC pension benefits as at least a partial compensation for hardship or injury endured due to service to country, be it in peacetime or wartime, personally, or in the case of survivors, in support of one who had served. The difference was that the traditional Veterans were quick to express gratitude for whatever benefits they were receiving, whereas CF clients generally and some RCMP clients spoke not of gratitude but rather of being under-compensated for their injury and frustrated by the time and effort required to obtain a decision. Obtaining access to VAC health benefits was frequently mentioned as a motivation by traditional Veterans. They said it had been explained to them that to qualify for health benefits, they first must be granted a pension. Most were highly complimentary about the way VAC staff had steered them through the system, As one said "They [VAC employees] did everything for me. They were really helpful." Some Canadian Forces members mentioned consideration for their spouse as a reason for applying for a pension. This was an unexpected response, and had not been pre-identified in the guide used to conduct the focus groups.” Yet why is it that CF veterans are made out to be ungrateful and greedy, when in fact they want the same things as older veterans?
This is one of the most important points that must be repeatedly stated when speaking about veterans’ issues. In other words, bureaucrats use semantics to confuse the public about what the issues really are. While modern veterans are portrayed as ungrateful and greedy, it was an older veteran who said:
"There will never be enough money to rightfully compensate Veterans that suffered the horrors of war."
The appeal system can be a very scary prospect for many veterans and some of their perceptions clearly illustrate why there is significant bitterness/frustration with the current systems.
“A significant number of participants in the CF focus groups stated dissatisfaction with BPA case preparation and representation. Those participants did not feel that BPA is independent, but rather that BPA is in a conflict of interest by being part of VAC. They also felt that BPA advocates have insufficient understanding of the DND culture, including the command structure, and the physical, mental, and emotional stress of military training and deployment to hazardous overseas operating environments.” “A majority of participants in the CF focus groups said they generally felt uninformed about the disability pension process, including the appeal process and their right to appeal. Those with access to on-base transition services indicated they felt they were better informed about the pension process and appeal rights.” “Several of the participants in the CF focus groups suggested that their experience with the appeal process was negative and demeaning. The process was not perceived as open, rather, some participants suggested that Board members appeared to have made up their minds prior to the hearing and that the hearing was merely a formality.” Traditional Veteran - "The appeal process is very degrading"
Traditional Veteran - "I felt like I was a crook"
Traditional Veteran - "I felt like a criminal"
RCMP - "The whole process is adversarial rather than consultative. You have to fight for what you think you deserve."
RCMP - "It was a terrible experience. It made me feel small. They were talking to each other, ignoring what I was saying. That makes me angry."
“A majority of participants in the CF focus groups expressed dissatisfaction in terms of what they are receiving compared to their expectations. Some perceive that "benefit of doubt" is not being applied, and also that VRAB members have neither medical training nor military experience and knowledge, thus reducing their chances of receiving the benefits to which they feel entitled.” I encourage everyone to read both parts of the report and draw their own conclusions. My efforts were aimed at highlighting some points based on my personal experiences. I think that the most significant systemic problems have been identified. What is lacking is a thorough review of the problems and how best to rectify a system that has been for many years in decay. There was no continuous effort to sustain programs, which is ironic given that the new charter is repeating the process that will cause more problems.
Modern veterans are really very similar to traditional veterans. The majority in both groups do not need a lot of support and for them rehabilitation and vocational programs may be suitable. It is the disabled veterans who need a comprehensive range of programs. There should be only two types of clients of VAC: the relatively healthy ones who can cope with life with some help; and the disabled ones who need a lot of help.
Why is it so difficult to understand that it is not a case of age so much as physical and mental health that divides veterans into distinct groups.
Return to Top
You Can Help!
All veterans are encouraged to pass information, opinions, links to self-help sites onto VVi. is a distribution centre and we are dependant on others to pass information. This is your site. Tell other veterans about your site. Email .
Return to Top
Recommended Links
Military Veterans Research-Study (Medical Pensions)

Reading Your Med File -

Canadian Army Veteran Motorcycle Units

Return to Top
To subscribe to click here!
Disclaimer and Non-Endorsement for Please click here!.
Source URL 
Related External Link 
Additional Link 
Periodical Issue01-12-2007
Periodical No200712
VVi Contributor