Vol. 147, No. 21 — October 9, 2013
SOR/2013-157 September 27, 2013
CANADIAN FORCES MEMBERS AND VETERANS RE-ESTABLISHMENT AND COMPENSATION ACT
Regulations Amending the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Regulations
P.C. 2013-934 September 27, 2013
His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Veterans Affairs, pursuant to section 41 of the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Act (see footnote a), makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Regulations.
REGULATIONS AMENDING THE CANADIAN FORCES MEMBERS AND VETERANS RE-ESTABLISHMENT AND COMPENSATION REGULATIONS
1. (1) The portion of subsection 15(1) of the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Regulations (see footnote 1) before paragraph (b) is replaced by the following:
15. (1) The Minister may pay the following expenses arising out of a person’s participation in a rehabilitation plan or a vocational assistance plan:
- (a) in the case of training,
- (i) those required by the training institution including tuition fees, books, computers and peripheral equipment, software, safety equipment, special clothing and tools,
- (ii) examination and licensing fees,
- (iii) Internet access,
- (iv) school supplies,
- (v) tutoring,
- (vi) transportation to and from the training facility
- (A) when a private vehicle is used, at a rate equal to the greater of 15 cents/km and the applicable lower kilometric rate set out in Appendix A of the Commuting Assistance Directive published by the National Joint Council of the Public Service of Canada as amended from time to time, and
- (B) when public transport is used, the cost of that transport,
- (vii) the cost of a pass or permit for parking at or near the training facility for the duration of the training,
- (viii) if the approved training is not available at a training facility located within a distance that would allow for daily commuting from the person’s residence, the costs of temporary accommodations and the cost of one return trip per year from the person’s residence to the location of the training facility for the purpose of establishing the temporary accommodations,
- (ix) any other expenses that are required to enable the person to meet an occupational goal in the approved rehabilitation or vocational assistance plan, and
- (x) 50% of the cost of additional dependant care, to a maximum amount of $750 per month; and
(2) Clause 15(1)(b)(i)(A) of the French version of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
- (A) lorsque le moyen de transport utilisé est un taxi, les frais de déplacement payés sont réduits de 5 $ par voyage à moins que le bénéficiaire ne soit une personne à mobilité réduite ou souffrant de troubles cognitifs graves ou que la réduction ne compromette gravement son accès aux services,
(3) Subparagraph 15(1)(b)(iii) of the English version of the Regulations is amended by replacing “dependent” with “dependant”.
(4) Subsection 15(2) of the French version of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
(2) Dans le cas où le bénéficiaire participe à un programme de réadaptation ou d’assistance professionnelle dans un pays étranger, les frais visés à l’alinéa (1)b) sont payés aux conditions et aux taux applicables aux vétérans des forces armées du pays où il se trouve ou, à défaut de tels conditions et taux, à ceux prévus pour les résidents canadiens.
(5) Subsection 15(3) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
(3) The maximum amount that may be paid under subparagraphs (1)(a)(i) to (ix) is $75,800 unless a higher amount is necessary to enable the person to meet an occupational goal in an approved rehabilitation or vocational assistance plan.
(4) The Minister may pay more than the percentage and maximum amount set out in subparagraph (1)(a)(x)
- (a) if there are more than three dependants requiring care;
- (b) if necessary as a result of the availability or location of care; or
- (c) if necessary to enable the person to meet an occupational goal in an approved rehabilitation or vocational assistance plan.
2. Paragraphs 22(h) and (i) of the French version of the Regulations are amended by replacing “réhabilitation” with “réadaptation”.
3. The English version of the Regulations is amended by replacing “dependant” with “dependent” in the following provisions:
- (a) paragraph 49(b); and
- (b) subsection 54(4).
4. Section 70 of the Regulations is amended by adding the following after subsection (3):
(4) The Minister shall give the applicant written notification of the decision and the reasons for it.
5. Section 71 of the Regulations is amended by adding the following after subsection (2):
(3) The Minister shall give the person affected by the decision written notification of any amendment or rescission made on the Minister’s own motion under section 83 or 84 of the Act and the reasons for the amendment or rescission.
6. Subsection 72(1) of the Regulations is repealed.
7. For greater certainty, any amount paid in respect of expenses incurred prior to the day on which these Regulations come into force shall not be considered for the purposes of subsection 15(3).
COMING INTO FORCE
8. These Regulations come into force on October 1, 2013, but if they are registered after that day, they come into force on the day on which they are registered.
REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT
(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)
Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) has established the Rehabilitation Program to provide medical, psycho-social, and vocational services and benefits to eligible veterans and, in certain circumstances, their spouses, common-law partners, or survivors to assist them in their re-establishment in civilian life.
The Regulations governing payment for vocational expenses were established in 2006. Section 15 of the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Regulations (the Regulations) outlines the eligible vocational services and associated dollar maximums. There are two issues with this section of the Regulations which make it challenging to deliver vocational services: (1) the list of eligible expenses contained in the Regulations is not sufficiently inclusive; and (2) the maximum amounts for some training expenses are inadequate to meet rising costs over time.
For example, developments in technology have rapidly changed the way information is disseminated in education and training environments over the past few years. Newer training technologies, such as e-books, online testing modules, and online lesson programs, are becoming commonplace, while learning tools used in the classroom in 2006 (e.g. bound textbooks, pens and paper) are becoming obsolete. The current prescriptive test of 10 eligible training-related expenses does not take into account these changes in the education and training fields.
Furthermore, maximum dollar limits are prescribed for each expense, such as a maximum of $25 per month for Internet. Since these prescribed expense limits have not been updated since 2006, some of the amounts fall short of the actual cost of the items.
The decision-making process used to consider payment of these training items is cumbersome and time-consuming, leading to delays in decision making and causing work congestion. Proof of increased costs and justification for the additional expenses must be prepared and submitted to VAC officials for consideration of payment.
This process creates administrative delays and, as a result, some participants may be left playing out of pocket for expenses related to their training and/or may be unable to fully participate in their training in a timely manner.
Additionally, the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations has identified technical issues. Also, some spelling errors and minor inconsistencies between the English and French versions of the current Regulations were identified and, therefore, corrections are being made to address those issues.
For Canadian Armed Forces personnel, the risk of serious injury in service to their country is a constant reality. Although every precaution is taken to keep soldiers safe, injuries can and do happen. When they do happen, it is important for the well-being of those injured to reintegrate into civilian life and to fully participate in their family and community life with dignity and independence. To help veterans return to a productive civilian life, VAC established the Rehabilitation Program for those who are medically released or who have health problems resulting primarily from service.
One of the key elements of this program is vocational services. Vocational services are available to help the veteran identify and achieve an appropriate civilian occupational goal, given his or her state of health and the extent of his or her education, skills, and experience. In circumstances where the veteran is unable to benefit from re-training due to severe and permanent injury or if the veteran has died of a service-related injury or illness, the spouse /common-law partner, or surviving spouse / common-law partner, may also be eligible for these services.
Veterans Affairs Canada case managers coordinate the assessment of rehabilitation needs. If vocational services are needed, the case manager refers the participant to the national contractor who employs vocational rehabilitation specialists to administer industry-standard vocational assessments to determine whether the program participant can return to the workplace and, if so, in what capacity. In addition, the specialist performs a labour market analysis to evaluate the participant’s chances of successful employment. In the case where the participant is able to return to the workforce, the specialist also prepares an individualized vocational rehabilitation plan (plan). This plan is developed in consideration of such factors and principles as the participant’s needs, education, aptitude, skills and training as well as experience, employability, cost, and availability of local resources. This plan outlines the individual’s training requirements and all foreseen expenses that will be incurred for the recommended vocation. The plan must be approved by a Veterans Affairs case manager before the training program commences.
Veterans Affairs Canada provides for most of the participant’s training-related costs and expenses. Eligible training-related expenses (both the list of training-related expenses covered and the amount paid for each) are prescribed in paragraph 15(1)(a) of the Regulations.
The ultimate goal of these amendments is to enhance service delivery to participants and fulfill the program intent of covering the eligible expenses directly associated with their training when it is required. The proposed amendments will simplify processes by making the list of training-related expenses more inclusive and flexible. More specifically, the amendments will allow VAC to more easily approve plans, thereby reducing waiting times for approvals without compromising on accountability. Overall, participants will have a wider range of eligible training-related expenses without having to resort to the cumbersome process associated with the exceptional circumstance provision that causes undue delays for all parties.
These changes will also allow case managers to better tailor the plan to the participant’s personal needs (e.g. Internet costs, which often exceed the current $25-per-month limit prescribed in the Regulations).
The amendments to subsections 15(1) and 15(3) of the Regulations will simplify the original itemized list of training-related expenses, making it more inclusive and flexible. This amended list, found in paragraph 15(1)(a), will be less prescriptive so that training expenses can be reimbursed. The current prescribed amounts per itemized expense will be removed in favour of an overall maximum claim limit of $75,800 per plan. This maximum claim limit represents the combined costs of all possible training-related expenses that are claimable under subparagraphs 15(1)(a)(i) to (x) of the current Regulations over a four-year training period. This maximum amount can be exceeded if, when the prescribed principles and factors are considered, additional funding is required to achieve the occupational goal.
Subsection 15(3) of the current Regulations permits the payment of training costs at a higher rate than that set out in paragraph 15(1)(a) if it is necessary to allow the training participant to meet an occupational goal. A provision to exceed the $75,800 program funding maximum will exist in the revised Regulations when additional amounts over and above the $75,800 limit are necessary to cover eligible expenses for a participant to meet his or her occupation goals as approved in the individual’s training plan.
The maximum claim limit will not apply to the cost of additional dependant care. That rate will continue to be prescribed in subparagraph 15(1)(a)(x) at 50% of the cost of additional dependant care to a maximum of $750 per month. However, subsection 15(4) will be added to provide that, under exceptional circumstances, more coverage may be approved for dependant care on a case-by-case basis. This will apply only where it can be demonstrated that paying the higher amount is required in order for a participant to meet his or her occupational goal in an approved plan, or if there are more than three dependants, or as a result of the availability or location of care.
The “One-for-One” Rule does not apply to this proposal, as there is no change in administrative costs to business.
Small business lens
The small business lens does not apply to this proposal, as there are no costs on small business.
It is anticipated that veterans and veterans’ groups will support this initiative as it will simplify processes, help reduce red tape for participants, and reduce delays in decision making.
The following veterans’ organizations were contacted to discuss the upcoming changes to the Regulations: the Royal Canadian Legion; Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans in Canada; National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada; Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association; NATO Veterans Organization of Canada; VeteransofCanada.ca; Canadian Veterans Advocacy; Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping; Veterans UN-NATO Canada; and VeteranVoice.info.
All organizations were pleased with the amendments being proposed to the provisions for training-related expenses. They said the Department is on the right track in terms of cutting red tape. Some organizations suggested additional future amendments to broaden educational opportunities.
The amended Regulations will allow for any eligible training-related expense to be covered by the program up to a maximum of $75,800 per plan. Under the new regime, the available resources will be pooled into the global maximum (instead of being parcelled out in smaller components) with the consequence that, as costs rise, there would still be sufficient flexibility to accommodate the variation of expenses at different times and in different places. VAC anticipates that very few participants would have to use the “exceptional circumstances” provision to cover their training-related expenses.
Additionally, as a consequence of the regulatory amendments, the administrative process to approve plans will be simplified for participants, the national contractor, and VAC as fewer applications of the “exceptional circumstances” provision will be required. This means that the process will be more streamlined and transparent, allowing participating veterans, spouses, or survivors to get their plans approved without the need to apply for consideration under exceptional circumstances, which takes approximately 30 days for a decision. With the new Regulations, all of the accountability obligations are still in place, but amendments would simplify the approval of expenses related to training. As a result, these amendments will reduce red tape for participants, the national contractor and VAC.
Implementation, enforcement and service standards
The amended Regulations come into force on October 1, 2013, but if they are registered after that date, on the day on which they are registered.
Strategic Policy Integration
Veterans Affairs Canada
P.O. Box 7700
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island