Seek­ing good data

Vet­er­ans Af­fairs min­is­ter says he wants to know more about vet­er­ans with men­tal and phys­i­cal ail­ments

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - THE GUARDIAN

Min­is­ter of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Erin O’Toole says he is driven by data.

The more, the bet­ter, he sug­gests.

Yet he was quick to di­min­ish the value of a na­tional client sur­vey that his depart­ment scrapped be­fore he took over the post from em­bat­tled and de­moted Ju­lian Fantino who an­gered and frus­trated more than his share of vet­er­ans dur­ing his ten­ure as Vet­er­ans Af­fairs boss.

“The client sur­vey was one in­put in the de­ter­mi­na­tion of how we were meet­ing the needs gen­er­ally in the past but also go­ing for­ward mak­ing pol­icy de­ci­sions,’’ O’Toole said Thurs­day while in Char­lot­te­town to an­nounce new jobs for the VAC head­quar­ters in the cap­i­tal city.

The Vet­er­ans Af­fairs web­site says the sur­vey, which cost $74,000, was in­tended to “help VAC in plan­ning how to im­prove care and sup­port the vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies, and in eval­u­at­ing the pro­grams and ser­vices we of­fer.’’

Crit­ics sug­gested the sur­vey was stopped be­cause the Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment doesn’t want con­fir­ma­tion that many ex­sol­diers are an­gry or up­set about the level of ser­vice they are re­ceiv­ing. O’Toole, though, says he and his depart­ment wel­comes in­put - lots of it, in fact. Just in a dif­fer­ent way. “Where we want to go for­ward in the fu­ture is at­tain­ing more de­tailed in­for­ma­tion on the peo­ple that med­i­cally re­lease from the Cana­dian Armed Forces.. .be­cause their tran­si­tion is a dif­fi­cult one,’’ he says.

“They may be 30 and they may have planned an en­tire ca­reer in uni­form and that plan has been dis­rupted be­cause of a ser­vice in­jury, men­tal or phys­i­cal, to their coun­try.’’

He says sur­vey­ing the per­spec­tive of these sol­diers is ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal.

“We also need more data on fe­male vet­er­ans that we weren’t get­ting enough of with the gen­eral sur­vey,’’ he notes.

Vet­er­ans Af­fairs has roughly 200,000 clients.

JIM DAY/THE GUARDIAN

Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Min­is­ter Erin O’Toole was in Char­lot­te­town Thurs­day to an­nounce the hir­ing of 61 em­ploy­ees to VAC head­quar­ters in the cap­i­tal city.

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