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431-00004 (Veterans' affairs)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English

PETITION TO THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA

We, the undersigned Canadians, draw the attention of the Government of Canada to the following:

That, whereas: Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) will be unable to access to the benefits they are entitled to due to the introduction of an abbreviated Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) claim form. VAC reduced the: Medical Questionnaire: Psychiatric/Psychological Condition(s) PEN6248e (2016-04) to eight pages (from 16) in December 2018, and now only one question relates to PTSD: "Re-experiencing traumatic events: (Y/N, and how often)".

PTSD ranks as the third-most commonly cited cause of disability award payments issued by VAC, and is a complex mental illness with more than one symptom. Removing PTSD diagnostic criteria from the claim form means inaccurate/incomplete information will be submitted, resulting in claim denials and delays. Untreated PTSD leads to worsened psychological (mood disorders, suicide, violence, addiction) and physical health symptoms such as hypertension and heart disease.

Therefore, your petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to: consider either (a) reverting to the previous 16-page Medical Questionnaire: Psychiatric/Psychological Condition(s) PEN6248e, or (b) amending the existing version to include the additional symptoms used as diagnostic and reporting criteria for PTSD. Further, we ask VAC to consult with mental health professionals who have proven and direct experience diagnosing and treating Veterans for PTSD before making future changes that impact this population.

Response by the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay

To deliver faster decisions for Veterans related to their disability benefits applications, Veterans Affairs Canada shortened the medical questionnaire for psychiatric and psychological conditions. The questionnaire was simplified to allow medical professionals the ability to complete the process quicker. This provides Veterans with faster decisions on their disability benefits applications which allows faster access to treatment. The changes are designed to increase efficiency of the process, and to ensure that Veterans in need get access to treatments faster.

Veterans Affairs Canada consulted its Service Excellence Advisory Group. This advisory group is focused on initiatives aimed at streamlining processes for Veterans and health professionals. A team of mental health professionals, including those from Operational Stress Injury Clinics who are frequent users of the questionnaire, was also consulted and requested revisions to the form. As a result, the questionnaire was modified and streamlined to improve the turnaround times for completion and get benefits out to Veterans faster.

Veterans Affairs Canada has a new approach to making disability benefit decisions for Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in that the department now only requires minimal diagnostic information. Veterans Affairs Canada asks health professionals to provide a diagnosis and accepts their professional assessment.

It is important to note that 97% of first applications for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder were approved (2018-2019 statistics).

The following changes were made:

  • The questionnaire was modified and streamlined. It was reduced in size to ease the paperwork burden on physicians and to improve turnaround times for completion. This is expected to result in faster decisions for Veterans.
  • Veterans Affairs Canada is no longer asking for health professionals to substantiate their diagnosis – Veterans Affairs Canada is taking them at their word. The information on the form focuses on assessing the severity of their injury.
  • The privacy notice was updated.
  • The Medical Diagnosis heading was renamed to ‘Confirmed Medical Diagnosis’, in addition the diagnosis section has been revised. The physician/psychologist information has been moved to the last page.
  • One single psychiatric condition could be assessed at 100%, if the individual met the highest ratings in each table in the Table of Disabilities.
Presented to the House of Commons
Pat Kelly (Calgary Rocky Ridge)
December 6, 2019 (Petition No. 431-00004)
Government response tabled
January 22, 2020
Photo - Pat Kelly
Calgary Rocky Ridge
Conservative Caucus
Alberta

Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.

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