Dear Prime Minister Harper:
Gosh, the Veterans Affairs portfolio has been difficult hasn’t it? I don’t think you have received enough credit however for appointing Julian Fantino as the Department’s Minster. He has been a blessing in disguise to Canada’s disabled veterans and their families.
Canadians, particularly veterans, may be widely repulsed by the constant shenanigans of Minister Fantino. I suspect that being the veteran and military champion you claim to be, you had a hidden plan to bring substantive change to that poorly managed department. Our senior public servants and their policies are largely integrity, compassion, transparency and innovation challenged. Those at Veterans Affairs (VAC) are arguably the worst of the lot.
Back to Minister Fantino. Many believe you appointed the highly controversial ex-police chief because he could somehow command order amongst those ungratefully vocal veterans who dared exercise the very rights for which they sacrificed in uniform. You know, I am referring to those pesky fundamental freedoms of expression, association, peaceful assembly and the press.
Just as Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn noted following the widespread breaches in my privacy in 2010, VAC all alone in Charlottetown needed a change in culture. Rightly bringing the department back to Ottawa would be a rather large budget line.… Read the rest
Posted by Sean Bruyea on July 15, 2014
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has expressed his admiration for America. Explosive scandals in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the rapid response provide a powerful teachable moment for the PM and the “hero” of Canada’s own veteran scandals, Minister Julian Fantino.
Although longstanding, wait times for healthcare from the U.S. VA exploded over the past two months. VA medical doctor turned whistleblower Dr. Sam Foote came forward with allegations that certain VA medical facilities were “cooking the books” resulting in much longer than reported wait times and at least 40 veteran deaths. The scandal quickly widened. The powerful oversight body, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), sent investigators to 69 of the 152 hospitals and approximately 800 outpatient clinics managed by the US VA.
Washington is not waiting. Under Secretary of the VA, Robert Petzel, quickly resigned. The American Legion played a key role in having Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resign shortly thereafter also calling for criminal investigations. The FBI initiated those investigations last week. Other veterans groups have widely condemned the VA, organizing public demonstrations and speaking to the media.
Meanwhile, an otherwise deadlocked Capitol Hill rapidly pushed through numerous pieces of potent bipartisan legislation.… Read the rest
Posted by Sean Bruyea on June 16, 2014
Veterans pictured last week protesting on Parliament Hill
Veterans have every reason to be disillusioned with Ottawa once again. But this time, the disappointment could become the nail in Minister Julian Fantino’s Veterans Affairs coffin.
The House Veterans Affairs Committee released its much anticipated report reviewing the New Veterans Charter (NVC). The legislation required a “comprehensive review” to begin last November in spite of Minister Fantino’s claim that he called for the review to be comprehensive. The Minister did however call committee to focus on the “most seriously injured, support for families and delivery of program by Veterans Affairs Canada [VAC]”.
The report’s 14 limited recommendations received unanimous and glowing accolades from all parties.
Let’s dig a little deeper. The most positive recommendation proposed a detailed procedure for injured leaving the military, transferring to VAC and receiving care in their communities. Ensuring that veterans in isolated and rural areas receive adequate care, a longstanding problem, was not addressed.
Most of the remaining thirteen recommendations range from poorly defined to bizarre.
The NVC results in serious inequities, providing less to reserve force veterans than those in the regular military. The report recommended that reserve force veterans “be entitled to the same benefits” as regular force veterans.… Read the rest
Posted by Sean Bruyea on June 12, 2014