Minister of Veterans Affairs, and associate Minister of Defence, Kent Hehr, and 90 representatives from veteran stakeholder groups recently concluded a two-day Stakeholder Summit in Ottawa. During the Summit the Minister announced the newly launched “Have Your Say” online engagement tool.
“What many of them [veterans] experienced, endured, was and is extremely difficult and while they ensured our freedom, we must ensure that they get the supports they need to rebuild their lives. Our strategy for following through on this is rooted in the core values of care, compassion and respect. We care for those who have served and for their families and survivors. We will show compassion for their needs. We respect them both in our day-to-day interactions and by honouring them through commemoration,” said Hehr in his keynote address to the Summit.
Held on May 9 and 10, the goal of the Summit was to update stakeholders on initiatives that Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) is taking and give everyone the opportunity to share input and advice on new and existing initiatives to support veterans.
Hehr outlined the progress that VAC has made since the first summit, in December, and on the mandate given to him by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“With Budget 2016 we took historic steps to restore critical access to services and do more to ensure the long-term financial security of veterans,” added Hehr.
The Minister went on to explain that VAC has reopened nine offices and plans to open another in Surrey and expand into the Territories. VAC also plans on hiring more staff to reduce the veteran to case ratio.
VAC will also “put more money in the pockets of veterans,” by increasing the disability award to $360,000, increasing Earning Loss Benefit from 75 per cent to 90 per cent of pre-release salary and increase funding to the Last Post Fund.
The Minister also announced the creation of six ministerial advisory groups to work on program development for other initiatives in his mandate to provide support to veterans.
Day two of the summit included a live town hall event via Facebook. During the town hall, Hehr made the announcement about the “Have Your Say” tool. It is expected that the new tool will further involve veterans, stakeholders and the Canadian public by opening dialogue on veterans issues and priority.
Hehr also announced the reinstatement of the Veteran satisfaction survey, which was discontinued in 2010.
“I am committed to consulting with Veterans, stakeholders and Canadians to establish sound policy and ensure Veterans and their families get the services they need, and that they are served with care, compassion and respect. By meeting with Veterans from across the country and broadening the reach online, I want to open up the dialogue and hear directly from those we serve,” said Hehr.
Both days of the Summit were streamed live on Facebook, reaching more than 168,000 people and more than 10,000 people viewed the broadcast.
The Have Your Say consultation tool is available on the Veterans Affairs Canada website for veterans, stakeholders and the public to provide feedback.
For more information visit the Veterans Affairs website.
Featured image: The group during the Veterans’ Stakeholder Summit held in Ottawa on May 9 and 10.