The use of outsourcing for care of veterans worries
Both veterans and case managers are unaware of how the new rehab contract will be implemented by the outside organization as of Tuesday (on file).
Officials who handle cases of sick and injured ex-servicemen at the Department of Veterans Affairs warn that lives could be at stake as the government moves forward with plans to change the way services are handled. physical and mental rehabilitation are provided to veterans.
These warnings were sounded Monday during moving testimony before the Commons Veterans Affairs Standing Committee. Three case managers said they and their clients are not ready for the changes made by the government.
The sick veteran is the one we are going to lose and who will fall through the cracks, Angela Aultman said while fighting back tears. This is where lives are at stake. And this is what keeps me up at night.
This question revolves around a $570 million contract recently awarded to an outside organization to provide physical and mental support services to Canada's most at-risk veterans. The contract was awarded in June 2021 to Partners in Veterans Rehabilitation Services in Canada (PSRVC), a partnership between two companies, WCG International and Lifemark Health Group.
Minister of Veterans Veterans Affairs, Lawrence MacAulay, and departmental officials argued that this contract was essential to improving services for former service members dealing with injuries and illnesses related to their time in the Armed Forces.
Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay
This enhancement includes the; easing the burden on case managers in the department, most of whom continue to face an excessive workload despite the Liberal government's repeated promises, since 2015, to fix this problem.
Although the contract with PSRVC is due to take effect on Tuesday, case managers told Committee members that neither they nor their clients have been properly trained or prepared for this transition.
Since June, we've been asking about the implementation of the new contract and being told that information will come, said Amanda Logan, also president of the Veterans' Union Local. fighters in Saint John, New Brunswick.
“We have not been properly trained for this new rehab contract. It is very difficult to know what to say to our veterans to prepare them for these changes when we do not know them ourselves.
—Amanda Logan, Union of Veterans Affairs Employees Representative
The three case managers were testifying as members of the union, which has already called for the resignation of Minister MacAulay.
Retired Master Corporal Kelly Carter, one of 15,000 former fighters currently in contact with a case manager to recover from his injuries and to ease the transition to civilian life after the military, testified Monday saying he also does not know what the contract in subcontracting will mean for him.
“We were not consulted on this change at all. I'm very concerned that it hasn't been discussed, rolled out, or implemented properly. And it may turn out to be a total failure.
—Kelly Carter, Retired Master Corporal
The department assured that it had consulted with case managers before and after awarding the contract to PSRVC and that this contracting out would free them from some administrative tasks so that they could spend more time to work directly with veterans.
Officials also assured that this change will not lead to a reduction in the number of case managers in the department.
Veterans Affairs Canada currently employs approximately 475 case managers. This number, however, includes around 50 temporary employees – who are to help reduce the overall backlog – and around 100 civil servants on sick leave or not working.
The three case managers who testified on Monday were outspoken in denouncing the large number of veterans assigned to them. They explained that they have to manage 40 files or more despite repeated Liberal promises to reduce the average caseload to 25 files.
This has implications for our health and well-being, Ms. Logan argued. Really, it keeps us awake at night wondering if we missed something and what kind of impact it might have on our veterans and their families.
Case managers are also concerned that the new subcontract will lead to a possible reduction in the role and number of managers in the department while adding another layer of bureaucracy to which ill and injured veterans will face.
The privatization of these services will only serve to further isolate our veterans from their government, their community and the public service employees who have their interest at heart, said Case Manager Whitney McSheffery.
I feel the department is using this contract to further distance itself from veterans and their families.