Since 2003, some 300 members of The Royal Canadian Legion from coast to coast to coast have answered the call and interviewed veterans in long-term care facilities at the request of Veterans Affairs Canada.
In fact, each year more than 4,500 veterans residing in some 800 facilities are visited by Legion-trained surveyors. During these visits, veterans are invited to comment on the quality of care they are receiving. These completed questionnaires are then sent to VAC for information and, if necessary, followup.
Currently, there are approximately 150 Legion surveyors who are available for tasking throughout the country. However, certain regions remain underserved. Veterans residing in or around these areas are encouraged to volunteer their services to this program.
The areas where new surveyors are needed include: British Columbia: Vancouver, Victoria; Alberta: Edmonton; Saskatchewan: Saskatoon, Regina; Manitoba: Winnipeg, Brandon; Ontario: Kenora, Dryden, Kingston, Belleville, Scarborough, Toronto, Brampton, Kitchener/Guelph, Gravenhurst/Bracebridge, Perth, Pembroke, Welland/Niagara Falls, London, Windsor; Quebec: Montreal (bilingual), Chicoutimi, New Richmond/Bonaventure, Trois-Rivieres; Nova Scotia: Halifax, Yarmouth; New Brunswick: Fredericton; and Prince Edward Island: Summerside.
Courses for Legion surveyors occur approximately three times a year to either train or re-qualify volunteers. The location of the specific training is usually determined by the geographic area where the demand for trained volunteers is greatest. Training courses were held in 2010 in Montreal and Charlottetown. This spring we anticipate a training course in Montreal and, perhaps, one in Vancouver later in the calendar year.
These two-day courses provide Legion volunteers with background information on VAC, the latest developments at the Legion and LTCS program as well as the knowledge and skills required to conduct a proper interview and submit detailed reports on the veterans interviewed to VAC. It should be pointed out that the volunteers are reimbursed for their out-of-pocket expenses when on assignment.
Those Legion members living in the aforementioned areas who may be interested in helping are asked to contact Pierre Allard or Bruce Poulin at Dominion Command Headquarters, 613-591-3335.
Improvements Seen In New Veterans Charter
Bill C-55, an Act to amend the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-Establishment and Compensation Act, [known as the New Veterans Charter (NVC)] and the Pension Act, was introduced in Parliament at first reading on Nov. 17. This act will improve monthly benefits under Earnings Loss Benefits establishing a minimum pre-tax income of $40,000 for veterans who cannot work and for those in a rehabilitation program. It will expand eligibility for Permanent Impairment Allowances and will introduce an additional $1,000 monthly supplement for the seriously injured. It will also provide flexible options for the Disability Award.
The Legion recognizes that the proposed legislation makes great strides in improving the NVC in line with the recommendations of the NVC Advisory Group which were endorsed by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. Still to be resolved, however, is the total amount of the Disability Award which should be increased.