Dear Minister MacAulay,
I guess you must be having a busy summer. Maybe that’s why you got the Deputy Minister to respond to our letter to you of June 14. Just received July 14th. That’s simply not good enough. We expect that you as the political leader of this Department would respond personally and not pass it off to your staff. We remind you that you have been given the mandate from the Prime Minister to: “Continue to reduce wait times and ensure Veterans and their families receive decisions on applications in a timely manner, including by investing resources to hire case workers and adjudicators, enhance disability benefit processing and advance innovative digital solutions.”
We also remind you that Case Managers at Veterans Affairs Canada who are worried about their jobs, their futures and the Veterans they have the honour to serve, are hoping to hear from you as well. They deserve to hear directly from you.
They would like to hear when your Department is going to honour your mandate to lower case loads that now range from 30 to 50 Veterans each. They would also like you to address their concerns about the new contract for rehabilitation services for Veterans and their families.
Namely, as we pointed out on June 14 that this contract expands the contracting out of the work of existing employees and transfers those responsibilities to the private sector. And that this expanded contract puts an additional barrier between Veterans and their Case Managers and will create undue delays and hardships for our treasured Veterans.
We have received information from Case Managers across Canada that there will be major problems with implementing this contract and that the Department does not have adequate internal resources to meet the challenges that this contract will create. Even worse, they are worried that Veterans and their families will simply not be able to access the services they need to continue their successful transition to civilian life. Your Departmental officials may tell you that everything is all right, but I can assure you that is not the message we are hearing from Case Managers and other staff who are on the front lines of serving Veterans.
We have a crisis in waiting and need your immediate action and intervention. To that end we call on you to order Veterans’ Affairs Canada to delay implementation of this contract until the concerns of the staff have been addressed. If Veterans Affairs Canada cannot prove that this new contract will not do any harm or cause further delays to any Veteran, it should be cancelled.
We would still like a meeting with you to discuss our concerns about this contract and staffing shortages at the Department. At the very least we would like you to make a personal statement in public on the issues facing employees at Veterans’ Affairs Canada. That seems like the least you could do.
Virginia Vaillancourt National President
Union of Veterans’ Affairs Employees