Sadly, it appears that Veteran’s Affairs has gone in reverse and settled back into the deny first strategy to mittigate the enormous backlog. We can complain all we want, but it will mostly fall on deaf ears.
There are some key things to remember.
Veterans Bill of Rights
The Veterans Bill of Rights applies to all clients of Veterans Affairs. It states:
“You have the right 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.
- 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 service standards and to know your appeal rights.
You have the right to make a complaint and have the matter looked into if you feel that any of your rights have not been upheld.”
Of course making a complaint, again, is likely to be ignored.
Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) requests
These are very valuable tools at your disposal. ATIPs are either formal or informal. For the most part, these requests are promptly replyed to, even if they are informal.
Keep in mind, that:
- the information must be “about you”
- if the information is about someone else (family member), consent must be provided in writting
- if the information is not about you, but perhaps about the system or policies, it is recommended that you look here at the summaries of access to information requests from Veteran’s Affairs. You may find an answer to your question here.
- Always try an informal request first.
- It is highly unlikely that they will send you files electronically. They will be mailed to you.
This is your first formal step. They have an easy online service for this. Note that this is ATIP for all of the Government of Canada. You need to specifiy the Department (VAC). It is recommended that you create an account, incase you have more ATIPs to complete in the future.
Check out our ATIP Writing Guide to help you create your request.
A formal request is a request made in writing to the government institution that controls the record, which indicates you are requesting access under one of the Acts (either the Access to Information Act or the Privacy Act). The receiver (department) has 30 days to respond.
Responding is not the same as providing the information. The more information you provide and the more precise you are, the more likely you are to get what you need.
Formaly requests cost $5.00. However there are no fees for accessing your own personal information under the Privacy Act.
You can submit an online request here.
If you need to do it by mail, you can get the forms here.