On the week of March 5th, 2012, the committee met two times to put to vote the Department’s Main and Supplementary Estimates. On the second day the committee resumed with its regular investigation of the front-line health and wellbeing services offered to veterans.
In the first meeting, Minister Steven Blaney presented on the department’s various programs and answered questions on department’s plan on adjusting to budget cuts. The minister assured the opposition that budget cuts will only affect the administrative costs of the department and not the extent or quality of services that VAC offers. The Cutting Red Tape for Veterans initiative is intended to mainly rely on retirements and modernization of services in reducing costs. The Main and Supplementary Estimates were passed without the oppositions’ support.
In the second meeting, the motion put forward by Irene Mathyssen to remove fellow MP Rob Anders from the committee was announced out of order by the chair, Greg Kerr.
In addition, the committee received Guy Parent, Veterans Ombudsman Chief Warrant Officer, who presented the committee with three recommendations. The first encouraged the committee members to advocate for exemption of the VAC from budget cuts, as is the case in the UK and US. Second, he encouraged the committee to consider reducing the number of categories that veterans are assigned to in order to ensure fair treatment of all veterans. Lastly, the Ombudsman recommended a universal ID card, shared by the Department of National Defense and Veteran’s Affair Canada, in order to make transition between the two departments and service delivery smoother.