PSAC and UVAE sound the alarm on the crisis in veterans’ services

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Union of Veterans Affairs’ Employees (UVAE) are sounding the alarm over ongoing mental health issues at Veterans Affairs’ Canada (VAC) and calling for permanent solutions to help both veterans and VAC employees.

Excessive workloads, tight turnaround times and multiple incompatible processes and computerized systems are causing delays for veterans in accessing critically needed services. Despite calls by veterans, their advocates and workers at VAC, problems are getting worse and both veterans and workers are suffering.

“It’s time for a permanent solution,” said PSAC National President Chris Aylward. “Minister Lawrence MacAulay and departmental officials have had years to fix the problems and have done nothing other than offer platitudes and band-aid solutions. Canada’s growing veteran population has complex needs requiring our collective support, and our members must be adequately supported by the government as they serve them.”

UVAE National President Virginia Vaillancourt confirms morale is at its lowest among employees and the stress and increased workload for intake workers, case managers, and benefit analysts are taking a toll.

“Heavy caseloads and tight turnaround times are causing stress and having a negative impact on the mental health of our members. And far too many veterans are left waiting for the mental health services that they desperately need,” said Vaillancourt. “It’s high time that veterans and the people who serve them are supported.”

Twice this year, union members were surveyed by UVAE and both times they reported not being provided with the resources needed to help veterans and their families seeking mental health support. A large number of members also mentioned that they too were getting sick from being overworked. 

PSAC and UVAE are asking for systemic changes at VAC. Several proposals to the department and the Minister were previously made, including a joint approach on addressing mental health issues, additional mental health training and support for staff, and a full review of programs and services.

“We call on the minister and the deputy minister to work with us to develop joint solutions,” added Aylward. “There are too many veterans suffering without support and too many employees getting sick trying to help them. Our veterans and our members deserve better.”

December 7, 2020