Thursday November 24, 2022 | NATIONAL
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
Privatization of rehabilitation services for veterans was challenged today, November 24, by NDP Veterans Affairs Critic Rachel Blaney (North Island – Powell River).
She called on Minister of Veterans Affairs Lawrence MacAulay to stop his scheme to privatize veterans’ rehabilitation services to a for-profit company.
Veterans and their families are waiting months for services, says Blaney. She says MacAulay is making them wait even longer by suspending Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) service delivery while the privatization transition is underway.
Veterans are currently unable to access mental and psycho-social supports, stated Blaney in a news release today.
In the House of Commons:
Blaney asked the following question in today’s November 24 question period:
“The Liberals have been failing veterans for years. The minister has refused to hire permanent staff to support veterans, has suspended services for over a month, and is now delegating tasks to a private company, owned by Loblaws, for hundreds of millions of dollars.”
“Meanwhile, VAC is delaying the contract rollout because workers haven’t been properly trained. This is a crisis, and veterans deserve so much better,” said Blaney.
“Why is the minister putting profits ahead of care for our veterans and their families, and will he stop this botched contract?”
On behalf of Minister MacAulay, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs Darrell Samson replied during Question Period, saying that the question was irresponsible, implying that services will be expanded upon commencement of the contract.
Samson outlined that 14,000 veterans will have access to 9,000 medical service staff and 600 offices available to them. The contract “will also allow case managers to reduce their administrative time and have more time to spend with our veterans”.
Generally speaking, privatization in any sector does emphasize profit and streamlining of expenses.
Case managers speak up:
Veterans’ lives are at stake if new rehab contract goes ahead, case managers say. As reported earlier this week by Global News, case managers at Veterans Affairs Canada are warning that lives could be at stake as the government presses ahead with plans to change the way physical and mental rehabilitation services are provided to ill and injured ex-soldiers.
CTV reported last week that the head of the union representing Veterans Affairs Canada case managers is warning that her members are near their “breaking point” thanks to an excessive amount of work and lack of support from higher ups.
The warnings were delivered as emotional testimony before the House of Commons veterans affairs committee Monday (November 21), where three case managers said they and their clients were not ready for the planned changes.
“The unwell veteran is who we are going to lose and who will fall through the cracks,” Angela Aultman said as she fought back tears. “This is where lives are at stake. And this is what keeps me up at night.”
Case work services:
To receive the support of a VAC case manager, a person must be a:
- member of the Canadian Armed Forces nearing your release date,
- former member of the Canadian Armed Forces or the RCMP, or
- survivor of any of the above.
Joint venture of two organizations:
The issue revolves around a $570-million contract recently awarded to an outside organization, Partners in Canadian Veterans Rehabilitation Services to provide physical and mental support services for Canada’s most at-risk veterans.
The contract was awarded back in July 2021, with a proposal that was supported by a joint venture of Lifemark Health Group with WCG International Consultants Ltd. (WCG), described by Lifemark as a leader in the development and delivery of employment and rehabilitation services. “Together, Lifemark and WCG formed Partners in Canadian Veterans Rehabilitation Services, which joins the two organizations together for the delivery of services under the contract,” it was stated by Lifemark in a July 1, 2021 news release.
Organizational reshuffling and merger does take time, resources and attention away from the primary task at hand, regardless of sector. Case in point, the Partners in Canadian Veterans Rehabilitation Services website has yet to launch.
===== ABOUT ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:
Island Social Trends is a professional news portal at islandsocialtrends.ca . Fully online since mid-2020, Island Social Trends emerged from previous print publications in the west shore: MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), and West Shore Voice News (2014-2020).
Since 2008, journalist and editor Mary P Brooke has taken a socioeconomic lens to the news of the west shore and south Vancouver Island region, including BC provincial news, and national news impacts. [See Island Social Trends Politics Archive].