Conservative Laurie Hawn wants veterans to access their own medical records
OTTAWA – A Conservative MP and former fighter pilot plans to introduce a private member’s bill next week that would give veterans access to their own medical records – a right they currently do not have.
Laurie Hawn, a 30-year veteran of the Royal Canadian Air Force, says his bill would also make it easier for files to be transferred between National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada.
“You’re not allowed to get a copy of your own medical file, which is nuts,” Hawn said in an interview.
“When I left in ’94…somebody screwed up and gave me mine, so of course I photocopied it. But we shouldn’t have to do that.”
The Edmonton Centre MP recently announced his intention to retire from politics, but said he would continue serving his riding until the next federal election. He was first elected in 2006 and served as parliamentary secretary to the minister of national defence for three-and-a-half years.
WATCH: Laurie Hawn, MP for Edmonton-Centre, announced he will not be seeking re-election.
Until he leaves Ottawa, Hawn said he wants to focus on veterans’ issues.
A member of the veterans’ affairs committee, Hawn said he is interested in the proposal, most recently put forward by Liberal Senator Romeo Dallaire, to merge the defence department with veterans affairs.
“If they were one department then that wouldn’t be an issue,” said Hawn.
But in the meantime, he said his bill would help combat some of the bureaucracy facing veterans once they leave the military.
“DND can’t just transfer information to Veterans Affairs because the Privacy Act gets in the way. It’s not either department’s fault,” he said.
Hawn said he expects to table his bill on Wednesday.
Veterans’ advocate Mike Blais, who served for 16 years in the military and was discharged after two back injuries, said he has spoken to Hawn about his proposal and he thinks it’s a “great idea.”
He said a problem facing many veterans is that documentation is often incomplete or missing when a veteran applies for benefits from the government.
“It’s important, because that’s one of the major obstacles for processing a veterans’ affairs claim – the absence of medical documentation,” said Blais.
“The system’s supposed to be based on the benefit of the doubt goes to the veteran, but they don’t apply that.”
Blais said if the military was able to transfer a veteran’s service number to the veterans’ affairs department, instead of starting from scratch, it would streamline the whole process.
“That would in fact facilitate quicker service, quicker attention, and negate a lot of bureaucracy,” he said.