Seeking good data
Veterans Affairs minister says he wants to know more about veterans with mental and physical ailments
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.
Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O’Toole was in Charlottetown Thursday to announce the hiring of 61 employees to VAC headquarters in the capital city.