Veterans Affairs Canada's Communications Task Force makes significant progress
OTTAWA, July 28, 2015 /CNW/ - The Honourable Erin O'Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs, today provided an update on the progress made by the Department's Veteran-centric Communications Task Force to improve how Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) communicates with Veterans and their families. The Task Force was created to find ways to reduce the administrative paperwork burden for our Veterans and to ensure all letters and forms are easy to understand and necessary.
The task force was mandated to look at each and every form and letter we use to communicate with our Veterans and ask:
- Is it easy to understand?
- Is it necessary?
- Could it be eliminated altogether?
- If updates or renewals are required, is this appropriate?
- Could a case manager help fill out this paperwork?
- Could more time be given to complete this paperwork?
The first phase focussed on reviewing ministerial correspondence to include Veteran-centric language. Phase one is now complete, and new letters with Veteran-centric language are now being used in customized ministerial correspondence.
With assistance from the Veterans Ombudsman, the second phase involved the review of the most frequently used forms and applications. As a result, we will reduce the number of forms from 22 to 9, eliminating more than 800,000 pages of paper per year, significantly reducing the paperwork burden on our Veterans. The proposed new forms and applications are being developed and shared with the Veterans Ombudsman, stakeholders and Veterans' organizations, for feedback and testing from a Veteran's perspective. Using the feedback, the Department will begin revising the forms and making the changes to the forms and applications on a priority basis. A major roll-out of the phase two changes will begin in fall 2015.
Phase three involves a comprehensive review and rewrite of the most frequently used letters to Veterans and their families which are used approximately 400,000 times a year.
- The Department-wide Veteran-centric Communications Task Force was created earlier this year to reduce red tape and continue to work toward a culture of service excellence that is focused on Veterans and their families.
- With the creation of a new, one-time, basic information form, Veterans only need to provide this information once, as opposed to up to ten times in the past.
- In July 2015, VAC replaced the Veterans Independence Program Annual Follow-Up form with a telephone call—which eliminates 425,000 pages of paperwork per year for all Veterans.
- Of the most frequently used forms and applications, the number could be reduced from 22 to 9.
"Veterans must be at the centre of everything we do at Veterans Affairs Canada, and our job should be to make it as easy as possible for eligible Veterans and their families to access the benefits and services they deserve. When we implement these changes, Veterans and their families will notice significant, meaningful improvements in the ways we communicate with those who served Canada."
The Honourable Erin O'Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs
SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada
For further information: Martin Magnan, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs. 613-996-4649 ; Media Relations, Veterans Affairs Canada, 613-992-7468