After many months of waiting, I met with the Minister on December 13, 2021 for a 30 minute meeting. I was accompanied by Mike Martin. Also in attendance were Paul Ledwell, the Deputy Minister and Patricia Beh, Chief of Staff to the Minister.
I ran through our list of concerns and asked the Minister if he had a response to the letters I have sent his office. He said they would ‘do their best to respond’. I raised a number of issues including the Case Manager caseload, the deteriorating mental health situation within VAC and asked if they had any concrete plans on staffing, including the status of the many temporary staff who are due to be released at the end of March, 2022. The Minister said that he was ‘working on getting resources’ and that he felt positive about those efforts.
Most of the questions were referred to the Deputy Minister who also had little firm commitment or information to provide. The Deputy did note again that the new Rehab contract was not intended to contract out work and that their efforts were not to decrease the number of case
managers to fix the case load issue. On the mental health front, he noted that 1,200 VAC staff had now received trauma informed training and will provide more information to me on the number of managers and supervisors who received this training.
Overall, they asked us to be patient and that they were working to resolve the staffing issues within the department. However, all they really had were vague assurances that the situation will improve without any details or timeline. I remain to be convinced.
In Solidarity/ En toute solidarité ,
National President/ La présidente nationale
Union of Veterans’ Affairs Employees (UVAE) /Syndicat des employé-e-s des Anciens combattants (SEAC)