Veterans Affairs Canada
We, the undersigned, represent the non-Case Manager employees of Veterans Affairs Canada. We are the Veteran Service Agents, Administrative Assistants, Appeals Officers, Policy Analysts, NCCN Analysts, and dozens of other staff who are, in our own way, directly impacted by the Rehabilitation contract. We are writing to you to insist that this contract be put on an indefinite hold until all of the impacts upon the Veterans we serve, and the staff who provide the service are addressed.
This contract does not just change the way the Case Managers administer the Rehabilitation Program.
It will have a significant impact upon the calls received by the NCCN. The NCCN Analysts already are the first point of contact for Veterans who are in distress or otherwise dissatisfied with the speed and/or quality of service they receive from the Department. We already know that any change to a program increases the volume of calls, the complexity of the calls, and, unfortunately, the psychological harm caused by prolonged exposure to strong negative emotion and language. We do not believe that the Department has made proper provision for the impact this new contract will have on the NCCN and ask that it be put on hold until the concerns of the NCCN are addressed.
It will also have a significant impact upon the Veteran Service Agents. They are already overburdened by changes made to their job description over the past few years, such as “First Call Resolution” and “Guided Support”. These changes added to the VSA workload without any corresponding increase in support. This new contract will see an increase in VSA workload, especially once the provider begins to “disengage” Veterans from the Rehab program and send them back to the VSAs to manage. The VSAs, not the Rehab provider and not the Case Managers, will bear the brunt of those who are angry at the provider’s decisions. We do not believe that the Department has made the proper provisions for the impact this new contract will have on the VSA group and ask that it be put on hold until the concerns of the VSAs are addressed.
History has shown that the Department always forgets about the appeal process when making changes to existing programs or introducing new programs. It is the National 1st Level Appeals Officers who will see a massive increase in their workload as Veteran’s dissatisfied with the decisions of the provider request a review of these decisions. When the Department introduced the VIP Grant Program, the National 1st Level Appeals Unit saw a 45% increase in their workload in the first year, which has not gone down. We know that the Rehab Contract did not provide for any new Appeals Officer staffing, so the inevitable increase in appeals will fall upon the already overburdened appeals officers. There are also issues of access to documentation held by the provider and how decisions of the Appeals Officers will be implemented that remain unanswered. We do not believe that the Department has made the proper provisions for the impact this new contract will have on the Appeals group and ask that it be put on hold until the concerns of the Appeals Officers are addressed.
These are the concerns of only three groups within your Department that have not been considered in this contracting process. But these are concerns that will have major impacts upon wait times, backlogs, Veteran satisfaction, and staff morale. All of us, in one way or another, are going to feel the negative repercussions of this rushed contact. Whether it is providing policy guidance under a new system, fielding calls from Veterans, investigating security concerns from Veterans who go too far, or responding to press inquiries, every member of the Department will be impacted. The only responsible course of action is to put an immediate hold on the contract until all staff and work units are ready.