Simplifying the Service Delivery Model for Medically Releasing Members of the Canadian Armed Forces
In May 2016, the Office completed a report titled Determining Service Attribution for Medically Releasing Members. During our research, it became apparent that the process for members of the Canadian Armed Forces who are transitioning to the services of Veterans Affairs Canada is neither user-friendly nor seamless. The transition process is unnecessarily complex and difficult to navigate – especially for those who are ill or injured.
Progress report on the status of recommendations
Up-to-date as of 2022-12-08
It is recommended that the Canadian Armed Forces retain medically releasing members until such time as all the benefits and services from the Canadian Armed Forces, Veterans Affairs Canada, and Service Income Security Insurance Plan have been confirmed and are put in place.
Recommendation 1 status: Accepted Partially implemented
Since our last progress report in 2018, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) made progress towards implementing this recommendation. They have undertaken several initiatives including establishing and co-chairing a Tiger Team with Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC), which resulted in efforts to provide a seamless and successful transition from military to civilian life. However, the new transition process will not be fully implemented until 2024 and has not reached full operational capacity for all locations. In terms of the progress achieved, this work resulted in initiatives aiming to provide a seamless and successful transition from military to civilian life, The Governance framework was revised in 2018, and the CAF/VAC Joint Steering Committee’s Terms of Reference were updated in 2020.
The CAF Transition Group was established in January 2019. Medically released CAF members are now retained until they have submitted all the applications for benefits/services from the CAF, SISIP, and VAC (when applicable). Since completion is only from the constituent’s perspective, this does not mean that the application will be processed nor that benefits will be put in place. For this reason, we consider this recommendation only partially implemented. Transition information, including checklists for CAF members, is now available online on the CAF Transition Group page.
The CAF also established the Release Benefits Administration (RBA) to help align benefits before release, including:
- overseeing the release sections across the CAF,
- providing advice,
- helping clarify release related policies,
- performing an audit function and
- holding ultimate responsibility for the payment of release related benefits to all CAF members (Regular and Reserve Force).
The RBA is available only through the DWAN.
RBA has service standards and oversight for technical authority for all release benefits, including medical releasing benefits. The two service standards are: i.) process a release within 30 days; and ii.) a goal of providing CAF benefits within 45 days of release.
It is recommended that the Canadian Armed Forces establish a Concierge Service for all medically releasing members. This service would serve as a focal point to assist members and their families for all administrative matters regarding their transition.
Recommendation 2 status: Accepted Not implemented
The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) will not use the term “Concierge” moving forward.
The CAF established a Digital Transition Centre as a central online location for resources and transition information. It is a public-facing website, and available through most search engines or a link from the Transition page. This centre provides information for members about the transition/release process. However the 2022 update does not meet the intent of our recommendation. The Department did not respond to our question if they will create a secure portal, and if so, what is the anticipated date for completion. They have indicated they can only consider a portal once they reach full operational capability in March 2024. We therefore we consider this recommendation to be “not implemented’.
It is anticipated with full operational capacity (in March 2024), the Canadian Armed Forces Transition Group should be able to meet the intent of this recommendation and be able to provide transitional support to all medically releasing Canadian Armed Forces members and their families.
It is recommended that the Canadian Armed Forces leads, through a phased approach, the development of a secure web portal. The portal would contain information for all Canadian Armed Forces, Veterans Affairs Canada, and Service Income Security Insurance Plan programs and services. The portal would also enable members to input their information just once, and the portal would automatically apply for all services and benefits that would be consistent with the member’s needs.
Recommendation 3 status: Accepted Partially implemented
The Canadian Armed Forces has made progress in implementing this recommendation. Both the Canadian Armed Forces and Veteran’s Affairs Canada transition information is available on the Military career transition web page, which is publicly available. The page includes links to:
- MyTransition Guide
- Enhanced Transition Training
- Second Career Assistance Network seminar material.
The availability of Second Career Assistance Network seminar material is helpful to members who may not be able to attend a seminar in person. The availability of the information through a variety of means (IOS/Android app, web page, online training) is progress towards having information readily available. However, no single point of access for information exists, which was the intent of the secure portal. VAC has developed a VAC benefits navigator and the Ombudsman Office created the Military Benefits Browser; the CAF developed neither.
A link to the Digital Transition Centre (DTC) will soon be available on the Military career transition page. This will provide a one-stop-shop for members to conduct research and will facilitate contact with those providing support to members. This will be available on a public website rather than a secured web portal.
While the CAF has taken some positive steps, a secure portal does not exist. For that reason, our recommendation is partially implemented.
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