The official ombudsman for veterans’ affairs speaks out

Something Homecoming Vets has not done is to introduce Guy Parent, the ombudsman who followed Col. Pat Stogran’s term of office under Veterans Affairs Canada. In rallying to the deficiencies of the system, we have to look at the counterbalance of what is being achieved as well. It is only fair that we give today’s ombudsman an opportunity to address veterans‘ issues with the C-55 Act. Following his comments is his biography. BONNIE

Bill C-55 and the Importance of the Review Clause

Ottawa — 30 March 2011

On March 24, 2011, Bill C-55, the Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act, received Royal Assent.

Slightly more than 30,000 Veterans receive benefits and services under the New Veterans Charter, and as this number continues to increase, so does the obligation of the Government of Canada to ensure that the Charter meets their needs both now and in the future.

I supported Bill C-55 because it will affect the lives of the most seriously disabled Veterans and begin the important process of making the Charter a truly “living” document. There are those who believe that the bill should have included more comprehensive amendments, and I respect this point of view. As for the idea that we should throw out the Charter and begin anew, the number and nature of complaints received by the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman since 2007, does not suggest that we need to start over. I am of the view that Bill C-55 is a step in the right direction and that we should continue to fix what needs fixing and build on what works. The problem as I see it is that it has taken too long to get started.

When I shared my thoughts with members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, I concluded my remarks by saying that waiting another five years to bring about further improvements to the New Veterans Charter would be unacceptable; a view echoed by all Veterans organizations and Veterans.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs proposed the inclusion of a review clause to Bill C-55, which seems to have gone unnoticed by many. It reads as follows:

20.1 Within two years after the day on which this section comes into force, a comprehensive review of the provisions and operations of the Act must be undertaken by any committees of the Senate and of the House of Commons that are designated or established by the Senate and the House of Commons for that purpose.

The inclusion of this clause is extremely important because it guarantees, by law, that the New Veterans Charter will be reviewed within the next two years. This will be an opportunity to bring forward additional improvements on behalf of Veterans and their families.

The Office of the Veterans Ombudsman will closely follow the implementation of the changes resulting from the adoption of Bill C-55, and will monitor the number of Veterans who are benefiting from these changes.

We will also encourage the Department to be very proactive in explaining the eligibility criteria for the Permanent Impairment Allowance and the new monthly supplement to Veterans and their families. Because of inaccurate information in the media and on various Web sites, I would hate for a Veteran with a disability assessed at less than 98% to not apply because he or she thought they did not meet the eligibility criteria. While a disability assessment of 98-100% is required to access the Exceptional Incapacity Allowance available under the Pension Act, there is no such requirement to access the Charter’s Permanent Impairment Allowance and the new supplement.

The Office will also continue to seek improvements to regulations, particularly when it is felt that they create barriers that unfairly prevent Veterans from accessing new or improved benefits. On that front, I welcome the improvement to the Earnings Loss Benefit, but I feel strongly that part-time Reservists should be treated on the same level as Regular Force members. As explained in my speaking notes for my appearance in front of the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence, the concept of unlimited liability applies equally to Reservists and members of the Regular Force, so why treat injured part-time Reservists differently?  I have chosen One Veteran as the theme that will guide my efforts during the course of my mandate for precisely situations such as this one. It is much more than a philosophical position, it has to do with fairness.


Chief Warrant Officer (ret’d) Guy Parent’s Biography

Chief Warrant Officer (ret’d) Guy Parent was appointed as the second Veterans Ombudsman in November 2010, for a five-year term. This comes after a career of almost 50 years of serving Canadians in many military and civil functions.

Following the completion of high school in 1964, he joined the Canadian Forces. He was trained as a Search and Rescue Technician and graduated in 1972 with qualification as Paramedic, Master Parachutist, Master Diver, Mountain Climbing Instructor and Survival Instructor. He went on to serve as a Search and Rescue Technician for the next three decades.

In 1989, he assumed the function of Base Chief Warrant Officer in Summerside, P.E.I. where he was in charge of personnel relations between the base and Air Force headquarters. As part of this assignment, he conducted administrative and internal investigations on behalf of the Base Commander.

Appointed as Chief Warrant Officer of Air Command in 1991, he advised on personnel and quality of life issues. Through frequent public visits to air units, he assessed the impact of policies on members and drafted recommendations to the Commander.

He was appointed again in 1995 when he was appointed as Chief Warrant Officer of the Canadian Forces, which is the highest appointment for a non-commissioned member. In that capacity, he represented 47,000 non-commissioned officers and privates who are, or will soon be, the Veterans of today. At the request of the Governor General, Chief Warrant Officer Parent also served as a member of the Armed Forces Council which provided him with an opportunity to influence doctrine and policy at the strategic level.

In 1999, he was posted to Egypt to serve as Force Sergeant Major of a multi-national force defending the Sinai in accordance with the Camp David Accord. There, he defused conflict situations between military personnel of 14 different countries through mediation and dispute resolution.

After retiring from the Canadian Forces in 2001, Chief Warrant Officer Parent joined the office of the National Defence and Canadian Forces Ombudsman where he assumed increasing responsibilities, first as an investigator and later as Director of Investigations and Director of the Ombudsman Special Response Team.

His vast experience and attention to detail led him to be drafted by the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman in 2008, where he served as Director of Research and Investigations until his appointment as Ombudsman. His experience with Veterans Affairs Canada has allowed him to gain significant knowledge about programs, policies, and procedures related to Veterans and to appreciate the importance of the Veterans Ombudsman mandate.

Chief Warrant Officer Parent is fluent in both official languages and has traveled extensively to Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South America on official Canadian Forces and National Defence business.

Married for 42 years, he now resides in Gatineau with his wife Helena Morris. They have 3 sons, 3 daughters-in-law and 7 grandchildren.


About Bonnie Toews and John Christiansen

Bonnie's Blog Posts invite our readers and free spirits everywhere to share life's adventures with us. I talk about writing my novels, reading books, chatting with other writers and John's and my journeys around the world. We welcome your anecdotes to our experiences and discussions.
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5 Responses to The official ombudsman for veterans’ affairs speaks out

  1. Robert Simpson says:

    I whole heartly agree with the ombudsman. Don’t knock this down as no good. It is a step forward, ask unions about contracts, you never get all that you want it takes a number of contract to get what you want. the New Charter is just that. I have been a soldier and a union rep and I’m here to say that after 31 years in the system as a disabled Veteran I have seen major steps forward in how we Veterans are treated since the new charter started. But there’s more to be done before we can say that our Veteran Affairs is the best in the world. A review every 2 years is good. I also strongly agree that the Reserves faced the same danger as the regular force soldiers while deployed so they must be given the same treatment and money when wounded. We all faced the same danger and suffered the same wounds. What I am saying is that the glass is half full, not half empty guys. Yes there are parts of this charter which need fixing. That happens in time and it’ll be faster bewteen upgrades to the charter now. That’s how it works and we just need to maintain our watching and pointing out what needs fixing. I guess I see both sides to this. But I am still a disabled Veteran.

  2. Gary Goode says:

    I for one am not happy with the review every two years. Do we wait two years for a change that could improve the lives of those who deserve it now. Guy seems happy to report the success stories while totally ignoring the many failures and shortcomings of the New Veterans Charter. Is this a living document or is it a total dead issue with the Ombudsman?

  3. To whom it may concern,

    Over the past 16 years this Canadian veteran has been forced by the unlawful decisions of the VRAB (Veterans Review and Appeal Board; a division of Veterans Affairs) to bring ‘motions’ to the Fed. Ct. (Trial Division, ref. #’s T-157-98; T-2137-99; T-67-03; T-401-05 & T-617-09; see the …really-pay hyperlink at signature block) in an attempt to force the government of Canada to pay the disability pension benefits that this Applicant seeks. In 5 (including the last 2) out of 6 rulings by the Fed. Ct., this matter has been referred back to the VRAB (i.e., ruled in favour of this veteran). As in another instance (refer to Fed. Ct. case# T-2137-99), this veteran is left waiting while the VRAB stall and do nothing towards recognizing their obligations to this veteran (and all other veterans of the Canadian Forces and Mounted Police).

    While awaiting for something called the actual service of justice, this Applicant has also been denied (over the past 5-6 years) disability pension benefits by the CPP group …. with this second unlawful dept. using the same unfounded ‘excuses’ that the VRAB used (and which resulted in the rulings against the VRAB). I recently received a ruling of the Fed. Ct. which essentially denied me the right to bring this matter before them in my search of justice ….. thus extending and amplifying this exercise in futility for this veteran ….. along with that of far too many other veterans like him.

    If this is the manner in which the government of Canada treats the men and women who have placed their lives on the line for that same government in local and foreign theatres of conflict, how must one believe that that same government is treating the remainder of the Canadian citizens such as you and your family members?

    I have contacted Legal Aid AB, Legal Guidance Calgary, and a half dozen other organizations in my search for justice (not to mention in excess of 400 solicitors in the Calgary, Alberta and other Canadian provinces), and have yet to find a solicitor willing to act on a ‘pro bono’ basis in representing this Applicant’s claims with the Canadian government departments concerned. While such an effort requires an exceptional level of honesty and integrity, where can I find such an ‘animal’? Do you have what it takes?

    Brian Bradley
    #801, 939 Bracewood Dr. S.W.
    Calgary, AB, Canada T2W 3M4
    Ph.: (403) 455 – 9353

  4. Pingback: Veterans begin to submit their personal stories of inadequate government treatment | Homecoming Vets at the Crossroads of Humanity

  5. Pingback: Veterans ombudsman | Askeyguitar

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