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Possible Merger of DND with VAC


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Well apparently the RCL has some more bright ideas.

The potential merger of the country’s two military portfolios would be up to the prime minister, says the minister who just recently became the head of both.

Harjit Sajjan, the defence minister who’s held the position since being appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shortly after the Liberals were elected in 2015, was named the government’s interim veterans affairs minister in the fallout of Jody Wilson-Raybould’s resignation from the position.

Wilson-Raybould had been the minister of veterans affairs for less than a month after being shuffled from her post as attorney general and justice minister.

“For me to have the acting role right now is a tremendous privilege for me,” Sajjan told iPolitics.

During his own military career, Sajjan deployed to Bosnia and Afghanistan. He was linked to the veterans affairs portfolio in an associate minister role before he was named the acting minister.

After Sajjan was appointed on Tuesday, The Royal Canadian Legion, which advocates for better veteran care and services, called on the government amalgamate the two departments.

“The time has arrived for the Canadian government to create one department, joining Veterans Affairs Canada and Department of National Defence to ensure our veterans are taken care of from recruitment into retirement,” the Legion wrote in a statement to iPolitics.

“We have witnessed several puzzling changes to (Veterans Affairs’) leadership in recent years, and we now question just how committed government is to Canada’s veterans. On their behalf, we ask that the veteran portfolio overall be treated as a vital one, and that government take swift action so that critical issues related to our veterans’ well-being are dealt with immediately,” the Legion said.

Veterans Affairs was founded in 1944 to provide care for soldiers returning from the Second World War. Kent Hehr was the first veterans affairs minister of the Trudeau government. Seamus O’Regan was appointed to the position in Aug. 27. In the most recent cabinet shuffle he became the Indigenous Services Minister.

Wilson-Raybould’s appointment has been called a demotion by members of the opposition, contributing to the claim that veterans affairs is regarded as a second-tier ministry.

Sajjan rejected this, saying it’s “important to note that our government is committed to veterans’ well-being.”

He said the decision to merge his two departments is out of his control.

“(The mechanics) are for the Prime Minister to decide,” Sajjan said.
Dumb idea, never gonna happen. Dominion command is catching considerable hell from Legion members on this one too. Someone went way out on a limb and committed to a pretty stupid position.
It's amazing how many people, mostly politicians, love speaking for us.......

.....but never listen to what we want.  :rofl:
I'm actually surprised MND Sajjan felt it worth his time to respond to this... I don't think he really had to and frankly it gave this half baked position by the RCL more air time than it deserved.

My take on it is this- both departments have critical roles. DND protects our country. VAC has to serve our vets.

DND has to do its job in a focused manner without distractions. While there's a tangential nexus between care of veterans and taking care of our country, it doesn't fall squarely within the DND mandate. Ipso facto, it would be a distraction. They needn't be distracted.

Conversely, VAC has a narrow but key mandate. It needs and deserves its own minister to oversee the portfolio, because it involves both big bucks and pushing legislation and regulation through. To suggest a 'joined' department suggests fallaciously that DND and VAC could be equal partners. Of course they could not. Functionally it would remain DND but with a conjoined body. Veterans Affairs would be a subordinate portion of the department, not an equal part. It would probably get its own DM and maybe a dedicated associate minister, but it couldn't hope to compete meaningfully for the time in the minister's head and around his conference table. It would be a side show, easy to ignore. VAC should be a department that is given its direction and as much as possible left alone with some stability at the ministerial level to do its work. Unfortunately, as a second tier portfolio, it seems to occasionally get ministers who maybe lack the thick skin needed, particularly for a constituency as difficult as veterans. It also seems to land neophytes in the world of federal bureaucracy, which is not ideal.
I think some sort of VAC driven bridge program, to move a service member into their VAC portfolio and starting their awards and benefits paperwork, showing what they can get and how. It should be Vets top to bottom in that organization.

Otherwise I see no need to move both massive bureaucratic clusterf###s into a single, tiny, already clogged stovepipe.
Oh goody, take two portfolios and stick them under one already under performing minister.  There's no such thing as multi tasking, it's doing a bunch of different things in a half-arsed manner.
Fishbone Jones said:
I think some sort of VAC driven bridge program, to move a service member into their VAC portfolio and starting their awards and benefits paperwork, showing what they can get and how. It should be Vets top to bottom in that organization.

Otherwise I see no need to move both massive bureaucratic clusterf###s into a single, tiny, already clogged stovepipe.

That is basically the gist of the ‘closing the seam’ line of effort, and they have been quietly moving some good people within both departments into that work. The intent has been to ‘upstream’ VAC applications and benefits adjudication to happening before the release, and to hopefully get it to be the point where transition (as the term now preferred to ‘release’) is hopefully no rockier than stepping off a boat as it pulls alongside the dock.

Obviously it’s not yet nearly where it needs to be... and catching up with disability applications in an unavoidable obstacle to that. I do know that issues like the privacy firewalls, and the duplication of medical assessments continue to be brought up by veterans and advocates, and the right words are at least being said about tackling them. Unfortunately with the rapid changing of ministers, a lot of the stakeholder engagement that provides two-way information flow on this stuff is pretty much closed down for now.

As we approach the election I fear the signal to noise ratio is going to get worse for a while.
So it seems this Merger idea has been floating around for sometime (2016) with an article written at the CDA Institute. Also General Dallaire has also said it would a good idea. More at link.

Would it not make more sense (if they were going to change something) to have juniour cabinet ministers responsible to the MND for both military procurement and VAC?  They could both still be separate departments, but that way there is one belly button.  Right now the only common level is the PM/Cabinet meetings, and it's a bit of a mess, with no one being held accountable for the messes that happen in the transfer from one department to the other.

I don't think it could get much worse, but at least someone could finally slap VAC around for denying claims for people that were medically released because their doctors disagreed with the DND doctors.

At this point I'm ready to burn both the procurement and VA support systems to the ground and start over to get rid of the entrenched bureaucracy and mini empires, so why not go from the top down?

Although if the RCL thinks it's a good idea, I'm inclined to disagree on principle, so kind of torn.
Teager said:
Well apparently the RCL has some more bright ideas.

'We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized. Presumably the plans for our employment were being changed. I was to learn later in life that, perhaps because we are so good at organizing, we tend as a nation to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization. During our reorganizations, several commanding officers were tried out on us, which added to the discontinuity.' Charlton Ogburn Jr.