As a result of Legion advocacy, and in response to the needs of Veterans and their families, Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) has adopted a Veterans’ Bill of Rights. This Bill of Rights is meant to recognize the service of Veterans to Canada and to keep alive the memory of their achievements and sacrifices. All Legion Branches have received a framed copy of the Veterans’ Bill of Rights which should be displayed prominently.
The Veterans Bill of Rights applies to:
- Veterans with war service;
- Veterans and serving members of the Canadian Forces (Regular and Reserve);
- Members and former members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP);
- Spouses, common-law partners, survivors and primary caregivers; and
- Other eligible dependants and family members.
The Veterans Bill of Rights explains Veterans’ rights to:
- Be treated with respect, dignity, fairness and courtesy.
- Take part in discussions that involve you and your family.
- Have someone with you for support when you deal with Veterans Affairs Canada.
- Receive clear, easy-to-understand information about our programs and services in English or French as set out in the Official Languages Act.
- Have your privacy protected as set out in the Privacy Act.
- Receive benefits and services as set out in our published standards and to know your appeal rights.
The Veterans’ Bill of Rights also recognizes that those that apply for services and benefits have certain responsibilities, including:
- Providing correct, complete and up-to-date information;
- Providing timely information on any important changes in circumstances, such as change in income or assets, change of address, change of marital status;
- If dealing through a third party, keeping others informed;
- Treating Veterans Affairs Canada staff with courtesy and respect; and
- Understanding that adjudicative decisions are based on regulations which must be followed.
NOTE: From a Legion perspective, this should not preclude the provision of the “Benefit of the doubt” towards applicants.
Office of the Veterans Ombudsman—ANNUAL REPORT 2008–2009(PDF)
Finally, Veterans do have a right to submit a complaint to the Veterans’ Ombudsman if the above rights have not been satisfied. The first Veterans’ Ombudsman, Colonel (Ret) Pat Stogran, was appointed on 11 November, 2007. In addition to his duties related to the Veterans’ Bill of Rights, the Ombudsman’s role is to make recommendations to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and to help raise awareness on the needs and concerns of Veterans.
An applicant or client of Veterans Affairs Canada, or his/her authorized representative, may make a complaint to the Veterans’ Ombudsman who will identify, review and suggest ways to resolve new and long-standing issues related to programs and services provided by or administered by Veterans Affairs Canada. He will review and address complaints by clients and their representatives related to the programs and services provided by or administered by VAC. He will also review systemic matters related to the Veterans Review and Appeal Board (VRAB).
The Veterans’ Ombudsman will not review decisions made by the Veterans Review and Appeal Board or decisions made by Veterans Affairs Canada that can be appealed to the VRAB. He will not review complaints involving other federal departments nor will he review court decisions and legal advice provided by the Bureau or Pension Advocates (BPA).
The Veterans’ Ombudsman will submit an annual report to the Minister of Veterans Affairs who will table the report in Parliament. The Ombudsman may publish other reports 60 days after they have been submitted to the Minister. The Ombudsman will review complaints only after all levels of appeal have been examined (some exceptions may apply).
The Ombudsman will also establish a Veterans’ Ombudsman Advisory Committee to provide advice on matters relating to his mandate. The Ombudsman can be contacted at:
P.O. Box 18,
Toll Free number: 1-877-330-4343
Toll Free Fax: 1-888-566-7582
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE: The Legion, in serving your needs, is under no obligation to share with you any information, documentation, records, etc. that it may have collected in this process. The Legion will, however, return to VAC any documentation received from VAC.