Annex II - Veterans Affairs Canada Suicide Prevention Strategy Actions

Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy
Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada


The following is a complete list of the current Veterans Affairs Canada actions planned and underway under the Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy. These draw from many program areas offering, for example, financial support, physical rehabilitation, or resources for family members. Some actions described here are major programs or new projects, and others are enhancements to existing programs or procedures. All are unified in addressing the seven Lines of Effort defined by this Strategy.

Actions are organized by Line of Effort. Where relevant, status information and projected completion dates for projects is provided.

Line of Effort 1: Communicating, Engaging & Educating

1.1 Consult Mental Health Advisory Group as required on the subject of VAC's mental health approach, initiatives, etc. to maximize Veteran-centric suicide prevention through optimal mental health promotion and care/treatment of mental illness. Aligns with Expert Panel Recommendation 11.

Status: Ongoing   

1.2. Ensure that Veterans and Veteran family callers in distress, who contact their MPs and MLAs, are provided the necessary up-to-date information on VAC services and support. Develop and disseminate information package for MLAs and MPs to distribute to Veteran and Veteran family callers.

Status: In development Target date: December 2017

1.3 Prevent Veteran suicides by engaging with Media in order to promote the application of best practices on the subject of media reporting of suicides, thereby avoiding contagion effect (collaboration with CAF). Aligns with Expert Panel Recommendation 10.

Status: In development  Target date: December 2018

1.4 Render all information on VAC services and supports easily accessible and comprehensible for releasing CAF members, Veterans and their families by enhancing VAC's website and VAC's social media presence.

Status: In development  Target date: Fall 2017

1.5 Ensure that Veterans who have experienced sexual trauma while serving in the military are adequately informed of VAC services and supports available to them and how to access these.

Status: Ongoing 

1.6 Develop a Postvention Protocol that offers optimal support to Veteran family members, friends, care providers and other affected people after a completed suicide.

Status: In development  Target date: April 2018

Line of Effort 2: Building & Supporting Resilient CAF Members & Veterans

2.1 Explore expanding the Veterans Justice Outreach Initiative (shown to be successful in Nova Scotia) to other provinces and territories to provide alternatives for Veterans with mental health problems and who face legal issues. The initiative focuses on corrective actions as opposed to punishment by providing access to needed services, treatments and supports. 

Status: In development  Target date: Winter 2018

2.2 Enable Veterans Affairs Canada to address unique and urgent Veteran and Veteran family well-being needs on a case by case basis through the establishment of a Veteran Emergency Fund.

Announced in Budget 2017  Target date: April 2018

2.3 Increase understanding of the needs of vulnerable Veterans (the homeless, in crisis, those experiencing difficulties with the law or incarcerated, etc.) and assist with their successful integration into their communities through continued implementation of the Veterans in Crisis Action Plan.

Status: In development  Target date: Ongoing

Line of Effort 3: Connecting & Strengthening CAF Members & Veterans through Families and Community

3.1 Support informal caregivers of Veterans with physical and mental health conditions by launching the Online Caregiver Training Program.

Status: In development  Target date: Fall 2017

3.2 Address the vocational assistance needs of survivors, which can include support for physical and mental health conditions, by removing time limit to apply. Announced in Budget 2017.

Status: In development  Target date: April 2018 and beyond

3.3 Support Veterans in achieving their education and future post-military employment goals, and position them to be more competitive in the workforce, by creating and implementing the new Veterans' Education and Training Benefit. Announced in Budget 2017.

Status: In development  Target date: April 2018 and beyond

3.4 Provide evidence-based interventions to Veterans and their families following mental health crises, including suicide attempts, by developing a VAC "Caring Contacts Protocol". Aligns with Expert Panel Recommendation 5.

Status: In development  Target date: April 2019

3.5 Promote a whole-of-community response to suicide prevention in Veterans by implementing a Community Collaboration Outreach Initiative to strengthen relationships with the provinces, federal departments, Veterans associations, community organizations and other stakeholders. Aligns with Expert Panel Recommendation 3.

Status: In development  Target date: March 2019

3.6  Promote community support and appreciation for the achievements of Veterans by continuing to identify ways to honour and remember those who served in Canada's military.

Status: Ongoing 

3.7 Help Veterans to achieve a successful post-military life and identity by fostering meaningful connections between Canadians, notably youth, and today's Veterans through outreach and shared experiences.

Status: Ongoing 

3.8 Help Veterans achieve a positive Veteran identity post-service, and facilitate access to well-being supports across the life course as needed, by introducing a Veteran Identity Card with a 5 year renewal period. Sub-project of the Seamless Transition Task Force.

Status: In development  Target date: Fall 2018

Line of Effort 4: Providing Timely Access to Effective Health Care & Support

4.1 Facilitate Veterans' timely access to treatment and supports for a service-related physical and mental health condition by continuing to identify ways to streamline the VAC adjudication decision-making model for physical and mental health disabilities.

Status: Ongoing 

4.2  Increase Veterans' access to specialized mental health care, treatment and support close to where they live by continuing to expand VAC-funded Network of Operational Stress Injury (OSI) Clinics.                                                                                                                      

Status: Ongoing

4.3 Provide focused one-on-one support for higher-need Veterans with physical or mental health conditions, including those who need access to treatment for suicidality, by reducing Case Manager case load to an average of 25:1.

Status: In development  Target date: April 2018

4.4 Provide family, caregivers, advocates and others with skills and knowledge to intervene when a Veteran is in crisis and/or suicidal by continuing roll-out of the Veteran-specific Mental Health First Aid Training.

Status: In development  Target date: March 2020

4.5 Collaborate with Crisis Services Canada to ensure that all Veterans and their families are familiar with the Canada Suicide Prevention Service (CSPS), a national crisis line, providing 24/7 crisis intervention support, in both Official Languages,  using phone, text and chat technologies, to all Canadians, regardless of where they live.

Status: In development  Target date: Late 2017

4.6 Provide comprehensive Veteran support by facilitating easy viewing of the client's current status across all domains of well-being via the development of a system portal for the National Contact Centre Network (NCCN) which interfaces with the Client Service Delivery Network (CSDN).

Status: In development  Target date: March 2019

4.7 Promote optimal Veteran suicide risk assessment and safety planning by reviewing the effectiveness of the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) program in ensuring VAC field staff competency and confidence in the domain of suicide prevention. Aligns with Expert Panel Recommendation 3.

Status: In development  Target date: September 2019

4.8 Promote optimal evidence-based suicide prevention by reviewing the evidence for suicide-specific psychotherapies/interventions. Aligns with Expert Panel Recommendation 4.

Status: In development  Target date: April  2019

4.9 Provide Veterans with access to new technologies for mental health service delivery. Aligns with Expert Panel Recommendation 9.

Status: In development  Target date: April 2019

Line of Effort 5: Well-being of CAF Members through their Transition to Civilian Life

5.1  Inform serving Members and their families earlier in their career about the importance of transition planning and about VAC benefits, services and supports.

Status: In development  Target date: April 2019

5.2 Make all information on VAC services and supports easily accessible and understandable for releasing CAF members, Veterans and their families, in order to increase engagement of members transitioning to post-military life and their families with needed well-being supports. Sub-project of the Seamless Transition Task Force.

Status: Ongoing 

5.3  Facilitate the CAF member's successful transition from military to post-military life by developing an online visual informational source of CAF and VAC services and supports. Sub-project of the Seamless Transition Task Force.

Status: In development  Target date: Fall 2017

5.4  Collaborate to explore ways of systematically registering new CAF recruits for a My VAC Account after basic training, to promote CAF member familiarity with the online tool and its use to access VAC benefits, services and/or information at any point during a member’s career.

Status: Ongoing 

5.5 Promote civilian employment readiness, recruitment of Veterans by civilian employers post-release and synergy amongst the Veteran employment community by finalizing and implementing the Joint CAF/VAC Employment Strategy domain. Announced in Budget 2017.

Status: In development  Target date: Fall 2017 for Strategy approval

5.6 Provide members with a better understanding of how their skills and experience can help them find meaningful post-military employment by redesigning Career Transition Services.

Status: In development  Target date: April 2018
 

5.7 Prepare CAF members for their transition to civilian life by making improvements to the Second Career Assistance Network (SCAN) seminars and promoting attendance.

Status: In development  Target date: April 2019

5.8 Develop an orientation process for CAF members at each posting, which will include an introduction to Integrated Personnel Service Centre Transition Teams.

Status: In development  Target date: April 2019

5.9 Encourage innovation and research related to issues Veterans and their families are facing during transition from military to civilian life by raising awareness with organizations of the new Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund.

Status: In development  Target date: Winter 2017

5.10 Provide medically releasing Veterans and their families, access to the Military Family Support Program (all Military Family Resource Centres and online family supports) to optimize the well-being of military families. Announced in Budget 2017.

Status: In development  Target date: April 2018

5.11  Provide peer support during the transition to post-military life by continuing to conduct Support (OSISS) outreach activities.

Status: Ongoing 

5.12 Ensure continuity of health services during the vulnerable military to civilian transition period by removing need for Veterans to re-apply with VAC for treatment benefits already approved by CAF when still-serving. Achieve this by aligning VAC/CAF medication formularies and treatment benefits for physical and mental health conditions.

Status: In development  Target date: April 2019

5.13 Ensure uniform and continuous case management provision by applying standardized CAF/VAC case management support to all ill and injured CAF members (as per the Integrated Case Management Practice Model) through all stages of recovery, rehabilitation, and transition into civilian life.

Status: In development  Target date: Phase 1 April 2018, Phase 2 April 2019

5.14 Promote the Veteran's successful transition to post-military life by establishing Transition Centres with integrated CAF and VAC resources

Status: In development  Target date: April 2019

5.15  Conduct effective and timely screening by updating the VAC Transition Interview and ensuring that all releasing CAF members participate. Explore options for enhancing family member participation in the Transition Interview. Aligns with Expert Panel Recommendation 6.

Status: In development  Target date: April 2018

5.16 Facilitate timely Veteran and Veteran family access to needed well-being supports during the transition period by creating a business process for, and disseminating a newly-developed Transition Checklist (a self-assessment tool for identifying the Veteran’s need for assistance as per the six domains of well-being).

Status: In development  Target date: December 2017

5.17 Facilitate timely Veteran and Veteran family access to needed well-being supports during the transition to post-military life by also introducing Veteran Service Agent check-in calls to releasing members 30 days prior to release as a follow-up to the Transition Interview.

Status: In development  Target date: April 2019

5.18  Provide releasing CAF members and Veterans with assistance navigating and putting in place the necessary supports for a successful transition to post-military life by rolling out the Guided Support Initiative at the national level, following the pilot study,

Status: In development  Target date: April 2019

5.19 Reduce administrative burden for Veterans by continuing to develop end-to-end online benefit applications and approvals, online tracking of review and appeal decisions and correspondence for VAC programs, and fostering of CAF member applications prior to the vulnerable transition period.

Status: In development  Target date: April 2019

5.20 Streamline VAC/CAF administrative processes and enhance case management during the transition period by implementing the CAF/VAC Transition Model Project Plan, thereby ensuring that releasing CAF members and their families have timely access to needed well-being supports. Aligns with Expert Panel Recommendation 7.

Status: In development  Target date: Fall 2017

5.21 Review and disseminate the VAC Research Directorate Technical Report on Veterans' Identities and Well-Being in Transition to Civilian Life. Utilize results to inform policy, program development and service providers.

Status: In development  Target date: December 2019

5.22 Determine impact of medical release on Veterans and Veteran families, by identifying subject as a priority area of research focus for the Centre of Excellence on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and related mental health conditions, once the latter is established.

Status: In development  Target date: December 2019

5.23 Measure the effectiveness CAF/VAC Transition Model Project in streamlining VAC/CAF administrative processes and in enhancing case management during the transition to post-military life.

Status: In development  Target date: Before end of FY 2017-18

Line of Effort 6: Protocols, Policies, and Processes to Better Manage Risk & Stress

6.1 Ensure quality assurance in suicide prevention within VAC by exploring the feasibility of establishing a National VAC Suicide Prevention Coordinator role. Aligns with Expert Panel Recommendation 1.

Status: In development  Target date: April 2018

6.2 Decrease risk for suicide by developing and implementing a VAC business process to attempt to reduce/limit access to lethal means.

Status: In development  Target date: March 2018

6.3 Support Veteran caregivers by implementing a new VAC Family Caregiver Relief Benefit.

Status: In development  Target date: April 2018

Line of Effort 7: Continuously Improve Through Research, Analysis and Incorporation of Lessons Learned and Best Practices

7.1 Promote optimal mental health services and supports for Veterans by developing and implementing  performance measures to assess the effectiveness of VAC's Mental Health Strategy. Apply lessons learned.

Status: In development  Target date: April 2018

7.2 Obtain increased knowledge of Canadian Veteran-specific effective mental health treatments by establishing a Centre of Excellence on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Related Mental Health Conditions. Announced in Budget 2017. 

Status: In development  Target date: April 2019

7.3 Determine suicide rates, factors associated with suicides and trends in suicide rates among Canadian Veterans by continuing data linkage study collaboration with DND and Statistics Canada and providing annual updates.

Status: In development  Target date: December 2017 and ongoing

7.4 Increase knowledge of suicide in Canadian Veterans by establishing a business process and protocol for periodic (every 3 to 5 years) suicide-related file review of an anonymous aggregate number of VAC Veteran client files. Aligns with Expert Panel Recommendation 2.

Status: In development  Target date: April 2018

7.5 Establish the Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund to conduct research, and develop or implement innovative programs, services and supports, specifically tailored to improving the lives of Canada's Veterans and their families. The fund will facilitate opportunities to develop and assess innovative well-being supports that could help to prevent suicides (also referenced in 5.9).

Status: In development  Target date: April 2018

7.6 Ensure quality improvement in VAC services by continuing to survey Veterans. 

Status: In development  Target date: April 2018 and ongoing

7.7 Promote availability and provision of the latest evidence-based treatments for Veterans with a mental health condition by establishing a VAC Mental Health Treatment Standardization Committee to evaluate the evidence for treatments/interventions and supportive practices for mental health conditions from which Veterans commonly suffer. Aligns with Expert Panel Recommendation 8

Status: In development  Target date: December 2017

7.8   Facilitate the Veteran's access to integrated treatment for substance use and other mental health disorders when both are present. Aligns with Expert Panel Recommendation 8.

Status: In development  Target date: December 2018

7.9 Increase knowledge on the needs of Veteran families by reviewing the results of the family well-being study (qualitative study of family members of Veterans with a mental health condition transitioning to civilian life) and determining next steps.

Status: In development  Target date: January 2018

7.10 Review and disseminate the results of the Road to Civilian Life (R2CL) qualitative study on Veterans' identities and well-being, as well as the R2CL longitudinal qualitative study on the mental health and well-being of CAF members during military to civilian transition and determining next steps.

Status: Ongoing

7.11  Increase scientific knowledge of the role of service dogs in helping Veterans with a mental health condition by reviewing results of the study on the effect/ impact of psychiatric service dogs in assisting  Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and determining next steps.

Status: In development  Target date: December 2017 (Phase I), July 2018 (Phase II: study results)

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