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Article Date01-09-2009
Record TYPEVVi
Article TOPIC 
Article TitleWhat is VAC Really Doing With Its Budgets?
Article ContentFood for thought!
What is VAC Really Doing With Its Budgets?
A Veteran's Concerns
There have been recent articles in the Ottawa Sun supporting the military.  
The first link below is really interesting because VAC Minister Thompson indicates he would like to see the DND Accidental Dismemberment Insurance Program scrapped.  As the articles point out, this plan is under review to have the discrepancies between Reserve and Regular force support equalized but if Mr Thompson scraps it then the only thing that would be available to the members would be the $250K from VAC.  Right now Reg Force members injured on duty could get as much as $500K for dismemberment but if this is scrapped then the members would cap out at $250K from VAC only.  If injured off duty neither the VAC or the DND program would cover. However, SISIP has dismemberment coverage under the optional life insurance programs that members may have taken so they would be covered. The articles are correct in the fact there is a difference in support between Reserves and Reg Force under the DND plan but as they point out, it is under review and Treasury Board is looking at standardizing coverage for all.
The statistics on VAC in the first article are also interesting as they indicate their Voc Rehab, Job Placement and Health Care programs (that is access to Public Service Health Care Plan for those with less than 10 year service and no Dental Coverage) cost $11.7 million but there is no indication of how many clients they actually have in their Voc Rehab program and especially since they still have not awarded the contract for the work to be done.  It is pretty amazing that they would be spending that kind of money when SISIP is has been doing all the same things for years and supported about 3000 clients in 2006 for around $7 million. It seems unlikely VAC would have even as many as 1000 clients in their Voc Rehab program at this point in time. All medical releasing members get started with SISIP six months before their release date so they are already supported when VAC starts after release.  Since VAC is supposed to be last payer the only clients they would have are those who have applied after release because of a Service Related Rehab need or spouses of those members too sick to participate in any Voc Rehab under VAC or SISIP.  Our tax dollars at work I guess, but it makes me wonder why they would want to re-invent the wheel when it appears they can't even match the existing one and what they are providing so far is almost double in cost.  Why not do a full review of where the VAC money is going, determine just how effectively it is being spent, is there truly a requirement for the replication and then take the extra funds that will certainly be found and put them toward other real veteran needs. One wonder if vets should be putting all their future care, supports and funding in the hands of one agency, all the eggs in one basket so to speak.  What happens when VAC is the only game in town and the only process for appeal is the current system, as ineffective as it is.
We see a lot of stuff about the SISIP clawback of VAC pensions and that is being dealt with now in the courts.  VAC is no doubt waiting to see the results because they also clawback the Pension Act pensions from their Earning Loss Benefits under the New Charter but only started doing it when the Charter came into effect in 2006, clearly not taking a lesson from the 2003 Ombudsman report and actually implementing a policy after they should have known it was not in the best interest of the client.  At least the SISIP clawback was in place long before Bill C41 ever made it an issue in the first place so they did not knowingly start the problem and are just dealing with the fall out from it.  Nothing is perfect but should you throw the baby out with the bath water and leave only the diaper behind?  So far the Charter has introduced the new services of extra support for spouses and families, increased medical and psych-social support, replicated Voc Rehab and Long Term Disability payments and replaced Veteran Pensions with lump sums while removing free major medical for those with less than 10 years service.  It seems if all the funds VAC has directed toward replicated and replacement programs were re-assigned to the new services they have introduced, then vets would be much better off.  
Food for thought!
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