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
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 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.