Questions and Answers from Veterans Affairs Canada Information Sessions - 2012

The following questions were asked at Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) Information Sessions and forwarded to the Veterans Review and Appeal Board for response. The Board operates at arm's length from VAC to deliver an independent and fair appeal process where applicants have every opportunity to be heard and to obtain benefits for service-related disabilities.

1. Why is expert medical opinion often dismissed by the Board?

For Veterans to obtain benefits, the law requires them to provide credible evidence to show how their diagnosed medical condition or disability is related to service. To assess medical opinion evidence, the Board uses Federal Court criteria which state that a credible medical opinion must: 1) be provided by a qualified person; 2) be based on a reasonably complete and accurate medical history of the individual; and 3) have a logical conclusion supported by recognized medical-scientific information. If the Board decides that a medical opinion does not meet these criteria, it is required to explain why in its written decision.

2. When will there be more Veterans and medical doctors assigned to the Board?

The Board is not responsible for appointing Members. Rather, they are appointed by the Governor in Council upon recommendations from the Minister of Veterans Affairs. To be considered for appointment, all candidates must qualify through the Board's transparent and merit-based selection process.

As a result of Veterans' feedback, the Board revised its Member selection process in 2008 to state that preference may be given to candidates with military or medical backgrounds. While one quarter of the Board's current membership are Veterans, very few medical doctors have applied to serve on the Board. It should be noted that the Board has always advocated that its membership should reflect a wide range of life/work experience and education in addition to other considerations such as gender, official languages and diversity.

The Board has established a comprehensive professional development program to enhance all of Members' skills to hear and decide Veterans' disability applications. Members receive ongoing and specialized training from medical, legal, military and lay experts on a variety of issues. This includes learning about Canadian Forces/RCMP culture, training, and operations, as well as common service-related injuries and medical conditions.