One of every five Canadian veterans suffering from a mental illness has to wait more than eight months before the government approves help, and such delays “may jeopardize a veteran’s stabilization and/or recovery”, according to the Auditor General of Canada in his fall report released Tuesday (November 25).
“The findings we have presented today…underscore the disconnect that happens when departments don’t have a clear understanding of whether the services they are providing are meeting the needs of their clienteles,” said Auditor General Michael Ferguson.
On the issue of benefits for veterans the report concludes: “Veterans Affairs Canada’s performance measures focus on how many veterans are being served and how timely veterans are being served, rather than on how well veterans are being served and whether programs are making a difference in their lives. As a result, Veterans Affairs Canada is not able to demonstrate that services provided to meet the mental health needs of veterans are effective.”
Among the report’s recommendations: “Veterans Affairs Canada should work with the Veterans Review and Appeal Board to identify whether reasons for successful reviews and appeals indicate a need to modify the application process.”
Journalist John Ivison at the National Post wrote “In essence, the report suggests the Department of Veterans Affairs is run like an insurance company – minus the facade of customer service that the industry presents.”
The role of the Office of the Auditor General of Canada is to “conduct independent audits and studies that provide objective information, advice, and assurance to Parliament, territorial legislatures, boards of crown corporations, government, and Canadians.”
In addition to the issue of mental health services to veterans, the fall report of the Auditor General also looked at support for combatting transnational crime, support to the automotive sector, and the documentary heritage of the Government of Canada, among others.
Auditor General – Mental Health Services for Veterans report – here
Ottawa Citizen – Auditor General: Some veterans wait more than eight months for mental health support – here
National Post/John Ivison – Auditor General’s report slams government for failing veterans on mental health services – here
Edmonton Sun – Veterans aren’t getting timely mental-health care: Auditor general – here
Office of the Auditor General of Canada – Role – here