The federal government should institute a much stronger policy to give Canadian Veterans the first chance at public sector employment.
A concerning report from the Veterans Transition Advisory Council has revealed that the quality of jobs and salaries of Canadian Veterans is much lower than for the rest of Canadians in the workforce.
The report notes that Veterans pay declines 42% on average, and many soldiers have difficulty finding work that meets their high skill levels.
Angela Mondou, president of Canada Company – an organization that seeks to connect the military and Canadian businesses – says“Based on the survey, about one in four (Veterans) who are transitioning to civilian life find it a really difficult transition. About 25 per cent of them find it’s not that easy to move on to the civilian world.”
Adds Mondou, “Lots of private-sector companies are not necessarily motivated to hire veterans, partly because they’re not aware or don’t understand their skills, background or culture of that skilled workforce.”
Former Air Force pilot Clayton Myhill mentions how lack of a structured environment can be an issue for Veterans entering the civilian workforce:
“They no longer have that support network they had when they were in uniform. They don’t have the mentorship. They don’t have the guy who’s been there and done that.”
Give public sector jobs to Canadian Veterans first
It is unacceptable that we have Veterans leaving the Canadian Forces and then taking huge pay cuts and often struggling in the civilian workforce. While the debt we owe our Veterans can never be fully repaid, the government can certainly do much better when it comes to supporting those who served Canada.
One common-sense idea is to greatly strengthen policies to give Canadian Veterans the first opportunity to get jobs in the public sector. It would be a win-win for the country, since we would have more hard-working, skilled, efficient, and dependable people in the public service, and we would be providing Veterans with good jobs.
After all, who better to put the “service” in public service than those who have already served Canada in the most courageous way possible?
This would provide an environment that has some structure, it would ensure well-paid, quality jobs for Veterans, and it would ensure better public services for Canadians. It would also contribute to a recognition of lifelong service to Canada. People joining the Canadian Armed Forces could have confidence that the government would support them throughout their lives, unlike what happens all too often today where those who serve are abandoned by the government once they take off the uniform.
A final benefit would be that Veterans would get access to the generous health plans the government offers much of the public service, and could help ensure that Veterans get the care and support they need – rather than the brutal denial of service and legal fights so many Veterans face to get the help they were promised and have earned.
Much stronger policy needed
The government claims to already prioritize Veterans, but a look at the government website shows the program is severely lacking. For example, while Veterans have “a preference for appointment when they apply, and are found qualified, for externally advertised jobs,” the government does not say what the qualification criteria is.
Additionally, there does not seem to be a preference for internally advertised jobs. The government says only that Veterans and active members “can apply for internally-advertised positions,” but does not say the preference applies to those jobs. Also, the ability to apply for internal positions only lasts for five years after a Veteran has been released from the Canadian Armed Forces, rather than the rest of their lifetime.
Furthermore, medically-released Veterans have to go through Veterans Affairs Canada to see if they can get a higher preference for public sector jobs – which means dealing with the same agency that so often denies Veterans the help and support they need.
That’s why a much tougher policy is needed to ensure Veterans always get first access to public sector jobs. The preference must be lifelong – no expiration after leaving the CAF – the qualifications must be publicly available, there must be greater training to help Veterans meet those qualifications in more cases, the Veterans hiring preference must unequivocally apply to “internally advertised” positions, and the government must produce regular public reports on their progress hiring Veterans. Otherwise, the government will use internal hiring and supposed “qualification criteria” as a way to get around hiring more Veterans, and we must make certain that doesn’t happen.
It’s time for the federal government to fully prioritize Veterans when it comes to hiring for the public service. It would benefit all Canadians, and help ensure we keep our sacred oath to those who have served our nation.
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