Skip to content

Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs


Proceedings of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs

Issue 1 - Evidence - June 22, 2011

OTTAWA, Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 12:02 p.m., pursuant to rule 88 of the Rules of the Senate, to organize the activities of the committee.


Josée Thérien, Clerk of the Subommittee: Honourable senators, as clerk of the committee, it is my duty to preside over the election of the chair and I am ready to receive a motion to that effect.

Senator Wallin: I move that Senator Dallaire be chair of the subcommittee.

Ms. Thérien: It is moved by the Honourable Senator Wallin:

That the Honourable Senator Dallaire do take the chair of this subcommittee.

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt this motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Ms. Thérien: I declare the motion carried. In accordance with rule 88, the Honourable Senator Dallaire is elected chair of this subcommittee.

Senator Roméo Antonious Dallaire (Chair) in the chair.

The Chair: I gather that no speech is required. However, it is required that we continue with the formal process of establishing the committee. There is also ``other business,'' for which I will beg a few moments' time in order to discuss a general work plan for the fall, leading into winter. I also have a draft budget to propose to you, having spoken with the Deputy Chair of the Internal Economy Committee, as we did with the Defence Committee. He said it was wise to submit it, so they have it on the books and they can look at it at their leisure.

Without further ado, I will go to Item No. 2, the election of a deputy chair.

Senator Wallin: I would like to move that Senator Plett be named as the deputy chair of this subcommittee.

The Chair: It is moved by the Honourable Senator Wallin:

That the Honourable Senator Plett be deputy chair of this subcommittee.

Do I have agreement on that proposal?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Item No. 3 is related to decisions regarding agenda, witnesses and hearings.

Senator Wallin: I so move.

The Chair: It is moved by the Honourable Senator Wallin:

That the chair and deputy chair be empowered to make decisions on behalf of the subcommittee with respect to its agenda, to invite witnesses, and to schedule hearings.

Is it agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Item No. 4 is the motion to publish the subcommittee's proceedings.

It is moved by the Honourable Senator Plett:

That the subcommittee publish its proceedings.

Is it agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Item No. 5 relates to authorization to hold meetings and to receive evidence when quorum is not present.

Senator Rivard: I so move.

The Chair: It is moved by the Honourable Senator Rivard:

That, pursuant to rule 89, the chair be authorized to hold meetings, to receive and authorize the publication of the evidence when a quorum is not present, provided that a member of the subcommittee from both the government and the opposition be present.

I consider that to be a progressive motion. Do I have agreement on this?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Item No. 6 concerns research staff.

Senator Day: I so move.

The Chair: It is moved by the Honourable Senator Day:

That the subcommittee ask the Library of Parliament to assign analysts to the subcommittee;

That the chair and deputy chair be authorized to retain the services of such experts as may be required by the work of the subcommittee; and

That the chair, on behalf of the subcommittee, direct the research staff in the preparation of studies, analyses, summaries, and drafts reports.

Do I have your agreement on this proposal?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Next is Item No. 7, which relates to the authority to commit funds and certify accounts.

Senator Wallin: I so move.

The Chair: It is moved by the Honourable Senator Wallin:

That, pursuant to section 7, Chapter 3:06 of the Senate Administrative Rules, authority to commit funds be conferred individually on the chair, the deputy chair, and the clerk of the subcommittee;

That, pursuant to section 8, Chapter 3:06 of the Senate Administrative Rules, authority for certifying accounts payable by the subcommittee be conferred individually on the chair, the deputy chair and the clerk of the subcommittee; and

That, notwithstanding the foregoing, in cases related to consultants and personnel services, the authority to commit funds and certify accounts be conferred jointly on the chair and the deputy chair.

Is it agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Item No. 8 is travel.

Senator Plett: I so move.

The Chair: It is moved by the Honourable Senator Plett:

That the subcommittee empower the chair and deputy chair to designate, as required, one or more members of the subcommittee and/or such staff as may be necessary to travel on assignment on behalf of the subcommittee.

Is it agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Item No. 9 is the designation of members travelling on subcommittee business.

Senator Rivard: I so move.

The Chair: It is moved by the Honourable Senator Rivard:

That the Chair and Deputy Chair be authorized to:

1) determine whether any member of the subcommittee is on ``official business'' for the purposes of paragraph 8(3)(a) of the Senators Attendance Policy, published in the Journals of the Senate on Wednesday, June 3, 1998; and

2) consider any member of the subcommittee to be on ``official business'' if that member is: (a) attending an event or meeting related to the work of the subcommittee; or (b) making a presentation related to the work of the subcommittee; and

That the chair and deputy chair report at the earliest opportunity any decisions taken with respect to the designation of members of the subcommittee travelling on subcommittee business.

Is it agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: The next item is the travelling and living expenses of witnesses.

Senator Day: I so move.

The Chair: It is moved by the Honourable Senator Day:

That, pursuant to the Senate guidelines for witness expenses, the subcommittee may reimburse reasonable travelling and living expenses for one witness from any one organization and payment will take place upon application, but that the chair be authorized to approve expenses for a second witness should there be exceptional circumstances.

I like that one. Is it agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Item No. 11 is communications.

Senator Wallin: I so move.

The Chair: It is moved by the Honourable Senator Wallin:

That the chair and deputy chair be empowered to direct communications officer(s) assigned to the subcommittee in the development of communications plans where appropriate and to request the services of the Senate Communications Directorate for the purposes of their development and implementation;

That the chair and deputy chair be empowered to allow coverage by electronic media of the public proceedings of the subcommittee with the least possible disruption of its hearings at its discretion.

Is it agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Item No. 12 addresses the time slot for regular meetings, which will be Wednesdays from 12 p.m. until 1:20 p.m. Are members agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: That is just for information.

Item No. 13 is other business. I have a few points to raise, if I may. Others who have points to raise may indicate so.

I have proposals for the general work plan of the subcommittee when we return in the fall. Prior to dissolution, we were in the midst of reviewing the report that we will present to the government on the New Veterans Charter. I propose that when we return, we continue that process. It was quite useful to have comments written out to help us through the review process. Any additional comments will be reviewed as well. I am not seeking to expedite the review because it has so much significance, but rather that it be deliberate. That would be our first order of business.

Senator Plett: When you are done, I would like to comment.

The Chair: We discussed that Veterans Affairs Canada had conducted a one-year internal review and its application of not only the New Veterans Charter but also its modus operandi. That report was produced in three phases; the last phase came out in December. It is available on the web and staff can provide it to members of the subcommittee. I propose that after we finish the report, we look at VAC's internal review to see how they are applying, or not applying, the New Veterans Charter with regard to continuing to enhance their capabilities to meet the challenges of new veterans as well as those who would be included under the old charter.

Subsequent to that, Veterans Affairs established a committee, which has been sitting for nearly two years, that they call the Modernization Committee. It has a significant impact on how they are to meet the requirements of their clients and how to assist them in becoming effective. We might find there is an overlap as we look at the first one. I propose that the subcommittee does that one after the other, dependent upon the major review that we will look at.

I also propose that we have one significant trip in the fall with a possible visit to the Canadian Forces medical centre, which is part of the hospital system here, to see how it functions with the injured members of the forces to whom it is designed to respond. We used to have the National Defence Medical Centre but it was closed when they built the new medical centre. No one has visited it to see how well it has been integrated into the general medical system.

The visit that I propose would bring us to Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue because the hospital is being handed over to the provincial government. Veterans are still located there and it is the centre of all the mental health or operational stress clinics established by Veterans Affairs Canada. It would be worthwhile to see how they have modernized the hospital, now that we are handing it over to the province, and how they plan to handle the veterans and civilians, as well as their future plans for the clinic physically. I propose that we travel there by bus. It is about two hours from Ottawa.

Following that visit, we would take the train to Valcartier. In this modern era, apart from the Gulf War in late 1990 and early 1991, the first troops to go into conflict were the First Battalion of the Van Doos and they were deployed out of Germany to Sarajevo. The last troops in a combat role in Afghanistan are the Van Doos, who will return this July, August and September. A visit to CFB Valcartier would allow us to see the results of their return and how that has evolved from the joint support unit through to the family support centre. As well, Veterans Affairs Canada has established a significant mental health clinic in Loretteville — now part of Quebec City — that would be worth looking at to understand how it is structured.

I end my proposal with the following: Leadership in francophone units is different from leadership in anglophone units. There are significant cultural, attitudinal and methodology of leadership and how a major army base looks at that. We saw in Edmonton how they handle those differences. It would be useful for this subcommittee to grasp the problems, which are significant, not only of serving troops who are veterans but also the veterans of that area and how they are being handled.

Those are my proposals under other business.

Senator Plett: I wish to speak to the two main issues: the report and the proposed trip.

On the report, I am not saying at this time that I am either opposed or in favour. Chair, I believe that your office and my office spent the most amount of time working with the report and making revisions. Much of the contents of the report — although I do not have it here to back up my comments, have happened. Before saying that we want to move forward with the report, I want to spend some time between thoroughly reading and digesting the report and deciding whether we want to continue with that report or file it in file 13 and start over with a different report. Mr. Chair, I believe you wish to do that as well.

It is wise for us not to simply send out a report where much has been accomplished already. At this time I do not want to say no, but when we come back in the fall at our first meeting we should discuss how we want to deal with the current report and whether we want to start over or significantly slash what is in the report by taking out irrelevancies to go forward with an abbreviated report.

I think there is much that can be studied; I think there is much that could be taken out and much that could be added to the report. I am of the mindset that I would like to reserve my decision on where we go with the existing report.

On the trip, in regard to what you pointed out about the trip that you would like to take, I think it is a worthwhile trip. I do not think that it is a trip that is overwhelming as far as costs are concerned. I am excited about that. It is something that we should do. Clearly, it is what this committee is all about. I am assuming for a trip like that the procedure is that we go first to the full committee and the committee there approves our plan and then it goes from there to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration. I would certainly support bringing that matter to the full Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence for their approval and/ or input.

On the trip, you would certainly have my full support. On the report, maybe you and I, over the course of the summer, can discuss what direction we want to go with the report if that is all right.

The Chair: Open for discussion, colleagues.

Senator Wallin: I have some comments to make in general, as well.

I share Senator Plett's views and, again, this is recollection. Even two weeks ago, I hauled out the report and on my version of it I think the issue was actually tone. It came at this — and I think partly because this has been going on for four years — that when the report started way back when it was what will we do about the New Veterans Charter and now we are four years later and some things have been done. I do feel it needs a rethink to decide whether it even addresses the issues.

I certainly found in the last couple months, when I have been out doing a lot of public speaking, you have a different view from the traditional vets than the one you get from the new vets and we tend to lump everything together in these reports. I am not sure that is the right way to go, or just the tone of it.

Again, and I guess partly because I do not want to see us go down this road of spending because we only meet once a week and it is similar to the problem we have in the main committee. I would like to leave it to the chair and the deputy chair and perhaps with the help of the Library of Parliament researchers to look at the internal review of Veterans Affairs and bring three or five issues to us as a committee that we might want to study. I do not know how we would study that line by line and I do not know what we would conclude when that is their own report. That is what they report. We cannot say it does not exist or it is not true or they are wrong; that is what they are doing. Let us pick out of that instead of focusing on analyzing a report, either that one or the modernization committee, and be a bit more proactive in what we choose to look at and focus on rather than being so reactive on this.

Another point that I would like to make — and, again, this comes from a lot of conversations in the last couple of months with people — is the emphasis on where we go from here and the jobs and what we are doing for veterans versus a focus on mental health. It is important to have that, but a lot of veterans who come back need jobs and want to be integrated into the community. We want to focus on the positive. We have systems for dealing with that. I just want to see some balance so that the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs is not looking at the mental health of veterans as the only characterization of the folks coming back.

I had a long meeting with the commissionaires. Here are guys who have the priority in terms of placing veterans in government jobs and other jobs in contracting. They have had to go out into the private sector and get non-vets to fill the positions because not enough people are signing up. There is some issue here. If people need and want jobs and we have an organization with access to jobs and there is a mismatch of skills, we need to wrestle with that issue as well, namely, the question of employment.

We also have a new minister and a new ombudsman. We should get some of these folks on the record as well. Partly, it is an education process and partly it is to hear from them as to whether they have a different point of view from their predecessors that came before them.

Those are some of my thoughts that came up. I agree; I think the trip would be useful and interesting.

Senator Day: Senator Wallin has made a number of interesting points. I am not sure if these points are part of this preliminary work plan that you have advised or if we are going on and talking about other things that we might want to do in an expanded work plan. I like the idea of talking to the corps of commissionaires because of the service that they provide and because the government, in the past, has given them special access to jobs. We need to find out if that is being used. The RCMP is also part of that and now they have expanded to include other non-veterans and non- RCMP personnel. I have always wondered if they were not jeopardizing their special status by doing that.

Senator Wallin: It is a question, and that was their concern, namely, they literally cannot recruit a number of vets. That is puzzling to me.

Senator Day: It would be a good idea for us to look into that. However, I do not see it as part of this initial work plan and the visit, rather, something that we might want to focus on separately. You had mentioned a couple of other items.

This budget that has been put before us, I am assuming that —

The Chair: I will go to that after.

Senator Day: I assumed you would.

You did not mention item number 3; the visit to the Legion, which I think is a good idea. It is probably a holdover from previously. You are not intending to exclude it by not having mentioned it, then?

The Chair: No.

Senator Day: You are intending to include it by not having mentioned it?

The Chair: I just have not gone through it.

Senator Day: I think you have, actually; the first two activities.

The Chair: The activities are part of the work plan and we will get to it. You are absolutely right; we have a visit to the Legion.

Senator Day: The process then, as I understand it, is you will be asking us under new business to accept a work plan and a budget to send to the main committee?

The Chair: Let me put it this way: I am proposing a work plan to be confirmed when we come back. What is important is that I do get your input into what we should have as a work plan and then break it down into each week, and so on.

I was saying that, generally speaking, this is what we should be looking at and we will go into the specificity of it when we return in September. The budget that I am proposing, I think covers that sort of ballpark. We will be within the ballpark of meeting that plan if we formally agree to it when we get back.

As was raised by Senator Wallin and yourself, I gave you the big ticket items. I spoke to Mr. Parent, the ombudsman and the minister; we would want to have them come before the committee. I believe that specific items like the commissionaires can be listed when we return. We will then look at a work plan of how to fit them in with my colleague Senator Plett, so we have the big ticket items and then we will fit those in as opportune, and there might even be legislation there.

It is interesting that you raised the commissionaires because as the commissionaires, more and more, are not selling their product necessarily well and are recruiting outside of the veterans, they could lose their status.

Senator Wallin: They do not argue that they are not selling it well, just to be clear. This is, I think, key to our discussion about new vets. My point is not to blame the commissionaires for not being able to recruit. The point is the younger vets coming back are not interested in that. That is a different issue.

The Chair: I would like to respond also to Senator Plett's and your comments regarding the report.

The aim of the exercise, as I see it, is that we raise areas that we see are worthy of us to look into and to report upon and, in so doing, assist, ultimately, the veterans, the veterans department, the minister and the government in doing its job. That is our mandate.

In no way, shape or form do I see committees as forums to beat up on the government. I see the committees as tools that the government hopefully will use to provide and meet its mandate and offer it opportunities to even go beyond it because it has not had the chance to look into it.

The example of the commissionaires I see as having them come and tell us what is going on, and we might be able to advise or inform how they should go about things.

In regard to the report, Bill C-55 is the tip of the iceberg and not the reform of the New Veterans Charter, in my opinion. There are things that are now redundant in it because Bill C-55 went through at the last minute and we were still reviewing it. I fully agree that through the summer members should take another look at it, look at their comments and come back, and that we have a session of looking at the future of the report and how we want to continue.

We cannot trash the report. There has been too much into it, but also many of the vets know of it and are aware that we have been looking at the charter and are looking for us to provide input.

I think that there is content there that is worthy for the government to look at, as it continues to enhance the New Veterans Charter as a living document. I think the report will be a catalyst for that. That is where I am coming from.

I would strongly recommend that we take another look at it, prepare your notes accordingly, and if you want to hand them to the clerk beforehand we can distribute them. When we come back, I would like to work out with Senator Plett a work plan and a number of items. If you have things you think we should look at, get them in. We will work that out together before we have our first meeting. We will then table what we want to do and have the discussion there.

It might take a meeting, at least, maybe two, to sort out how we want to look at the year ahead.

Senator Plett: I fully support that and I appreciate the comment that the chair makes, that the role of the committee is not to beat up on government but rather to assist. Senator Wallin raised the issue that some of her concerns in the report were the tone of the report and, if you recall, most of the corrections or revisions that I asked for in the report dealt with tone. That was my biggest thing as well. The committee was very accommodating in accepting those recommendations that we made. I do agree; it is a living document. My suggestion clearly is not to trash it. My suggestion is that possibly a rewrite may be in order; maybe not. Maybe there is enough there that we can just revise, but if you agree, chair, and obviously you do, that we do look at it, you and I can spend some time before the first committee meeting to make a recommendation as to what we think should be done with the report.

The Chair: I think, honourable senators, that it is very much in the purview of the deputy chair and the chair to set the scene for the committee at our meeting in order to look at the way ahead. The results of what we will do will be tabled for us to decide upon as to how we want to get ahead.

I would encourage you, if you have material over the summertime, to send it by September so we can distribute it amongst ourselves. We will have some stuff to work on and we will meet before and we will work that out together and walk through the whole thing.

If you do not mind, we could walk through as much detail as we want to be able to present something that we do not waste a lot of time on.

Senator Plett: Agreed.

The Chair: Thank you very much also for the support of Valcartier. It will also be our only franco sort of visit and it is good for us to be doing it.

Senator Plett: I hope there will be proper translation on the trip, if it is into a francophone riding.

The Chair: Is Manitoba a bilingual province? How many hundreds of millions did you spend translating all your stuff there?

Are there any other comments?

Senator Plett: Do you want a motion on this budget?

The Chair: I am getting to that. I just wanted to close the discussion.

Senator Day: We have been talking about two things when we come back. One is the broader picture of future business and other things we are doing, and the other is more focus on what we will do with the report.

The Chair: Absolutely.

Senator Day: They are two different things and we should think of them as two different things.

The Chair: That is how I am proposing it. One will be integrated into the other depending on the work we will propose to you to do on the report.

Senator Day: In terms of the report, for my own information, normally we would need a motion to have everything from the previous session, including that report, sent to this Parliament in this session.

Senator Wallin: We have already approved that.

Senator Day: I believe, Mr. Chair, there is a global motion for that for all of the committees.

Senator Wallin: We did that already.

Senator Day: Was that in the main committee?

Senator Wallin: No, in this one.

The Chair: Just one moment.

We will touch upon that in the covering element of the budget, which is the next item.

Senator Wallin: That is what I say in the chamber.

The Chair: Are there any other comments?

We have our marching orders for the new session. Now, I would like, if I may, to table the budget.


Our order of reference. How do you proceed?

Ms. Thérien: The order of reference? It can be done the same way the committee did on Monday; it just has to be adopted. The main committee has to adopt it now.


If I can just make one comment, for the draft budget in front of you, I did not think of interpretation, so I would like to add those numbers to the trip for Valcartier.

The Chair: We could have Van Doos do translation, but I am not sure that is proper English.

Senator Plett: Their French even I understand.

The Chair: If you notice, the covering is the order that was announced and within that, if I may, Senator Day, below item C, the budget is frugal because I see the trip to Valcartier to be taken by train, which is at no cost. We take a bus to Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, go to the train station and then take the train from there. It is only two and a half hours.

Senator Day: Why not take the train to Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue?

The Chair: Then you have to come back from downtown Montreal to Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue.


Senator Day: Is there no stop at Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue?

The Chair: We are going to look into that because we also have to think about the return trip. I see it takes us two days, but if there is a conflict of schedules, I do not want us to spend up to three days.

Senator Day: I understand. I just mentioned that because you talked about the train from Montreal to Quebec.


The Chair: If I may, just a point on choosing a Legion branch. It is interesting that the Legion in Aylmer will be celebrating its seventy-fifth anniversary this year. Maybe we want to go there, which is a bilingual little town with a fair number of veterans who live in that general area. That might be the Legion we want to look at when we come back.

Do I have agreement on approval in principle of this?

Senator Plett: Absolutely. I will move it. Does the clerk have a rough cost of what the translation would be?

Senator Wallin: It is the same process here as we went through in the main budget. We cannot sign off on it because it is not finalized, but we can agree in principle.

Senator Plett: I understand.

Ms. Thérien: For the cost of interpretation, we only have to pay for the transportation and accommodation. It is just to add that to the budget.

Senator Wallin: If you can check, perhaps there is a meeting room wherever we are going that has that capability.

Ms. Thérien: It is the people to accompany the committee. I will still add it.

Senator Wallin: You know what I mean. We are not trying to set up hearings.

Ms. Thérien: No, I understand. I will still add it, but I will check if Valcartier has them available.

Senator Wallin: Okay.

Senator Plett: The cost, if we would have to do it, would be less than $1,000.

Ms. Thérien: For sure.

The Chair: Also, in Valcartier, the briefings will be done in both languages. The officer corps is required to be bilingual, so we will expect that to happen.

Are there any other points, colleagues?

Senator Wallin: Have you got paperwork for me today? No? I served notice yesterday, so what happens today?

Ms. Thérien: You will move the motions today, the two motions: One for the order of reference for Defence and the other one for Veterans Affairs. The budgets will then need to be adopted officially by the committee.

Senator Wallin: We cannot do that, so that is our problem. There may not be an opportunity to have another meeting. We need them to go forward as is.

Ms. Thérien: We can discuss that afterwards.

Senator Wallin: I was looking for wording for things to do today.

Ms Thérien: There is nothing to do today.

Senator Wallin: There is: I have to move these in the house, correct?

Ms. Thérien: Yes, sorry. You have to move them.

Senator Day: These have to be approved by the overall committee.

Ms. Thérien: Yes.

Senator Day: Therefore, you cannot move these in the house.

The Chair: Not the budgets.

Senator Wallin: The orders of reference.

Senator Day: All you can move in the house is what we approved Monday.

Ms. Thérien: They were approved on Monday. Senator Wallin gave notice yesterday.

Senator Wallin: I gave notice yesterday, is what I am saying.

Ms. Thérien: Not of the budgets, just the orders of reference.

Senator Wallin: The orders of reference, yes.

Ms. Thérien: Then you can move them today.

Senator Wallin: Right.

The Chair: Any other comments? Lunch is also frugal, as you have noticed, but that is not bad. Instead of having a whole whack of stuff there, there is a tasty toasted ham and cheese type lunch, with maybe a soup and a bit of salad which, I think, will be the requirement. However, I would like to have raisin bran cookies, not just chocolate chip ones.

Ms. Thérien: Duly noted.

Senator Wallin: You are so demanding.

The Chair: Yes, I know.

My last point is, as Senator Wallin has indicated, she has been around and spoken to many people. I have been involved also, with a lot of veterans coming through my office, and I have a small support staff that works on many veterans cases, and they go beyond just the mental health side. There is a number of the physical injury gang, and also the family side that is coming significantly to the fore.

Senator Wallin: Part of the reason I raised it is because — and this was in part the result of the personality and approach of the last ombudsman — I think we want to take these issues and cases up in a positive way. These are people who have served their country. Again, it goes back to my earlier point. It is about the tone and how we approach this.

If we look at these things as finding the best route to serve veterans, that is what we want to do, not kind of let us first attack government and spend six months doing that without trying to solve the problem. Let us solve the problem first and then go and look at the larger issues. I am glad you are doing that in your office, but sometimes it is counterproductive.

I also think it is not a fair reflection. That was the other thing I kept hearing, that, by and large, people are very satisfied with what is being done. Let us focus on where these cases show us are the weak spots, the vulnerable spots or the spots that need change. I always find it is more doable to go and fix paragraph (b) of clause 42, part 1, than to say, ``Let's fix the Veterans Charter.'' It is a different way of approaching it that might have faster results.

The Chair: There are bits and pieces that can be moved. As an example, even with Bill C-55 there was stuff that the minister could have moved before he brought that forward. Those things are the most appropriate to do. The generics of the New Veterans Charter are not necessarily perfect either. As an example, an advisory board to the minister that used to exist does not anymore. There is now a new 18-member research forum on mental health in the military that has been established between Queen's and RMC.

Senator Wallin: I am there, and I understand that.

The Chair: If I may just finish, the reason is so we do not fall into all the casualties and the hassles we have had, because we did not take care of a lot of casualties.

Over 90 per cent of the casualties of veterans are due to operational stress injury. It is not an insignificant component of the ones who are hurting. The ones whose needs are being met, fine, but the ones who are hurting are in that area.

However, it is not only that, and I totally agree with you. It will be interesting. I will, in my capacity as chair, get you information on things like that whole new research capability that is across the country, which is trying to prevent casualties, and also recoup casualties through some very specific research being done by these universities. Veterans Affairs and National Defence are involved as well.

I think we will have a very interesting time together. I look forward to working with you, Senator Plett.

Senator Plett: Likewise.

The Chair: If we want to meet, we can meet in Shilo.

Senator Plett: Wonderful. I would support that.

Senator Wallin: Do we need a motion to adjourn or will you just do that?

The Chair: I was going to beat the living daylights out of this.

Senator Wallin: Do that.

The Chair: This meeting is adjourned.

(The committee adjourned.)

Back to top