Calian Contracts for
Health Care Services

The Canadian Forces Health Service Centre, housed within the Monfort Hospital in Ottawa, was the scene today for an announcement by the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, of the awarding of three contracts totalling $310.9 million for the provision of health care services to Calian Ltd. Also present at the announcement were the MP for Ottawa-Vanier, Mona Fortier, the Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Sherry Romanado, the CEO of Calian Ltd, Kevin Ford, along with several representatives from the military wing of the hospital.

In making the announcement, Minister Qualtrough said that “All Canadians deserve a high standard of health care but perhaps none more than those who make great sacrifices to serve and protect us.”. The three contracts are so Calian Ltd can “… provide and manage health care services for the Department of National Defence, Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC), and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).”.

Parliamentary Secretary Romanado stated that “… these new services will directly support the health and resilience of our men and women in uniform and help ensure a smoother transition to civilian life. The new agreement will supplement the current health care services and ensure continuity of care when medical (sic) personnel are deployed, they go on training, or are on extended leave.”.

Calian Ltd. has held the contract to provide health care support to DND since 2004 and this new contract is for four more years with optional extensions for an additional eight years beyond that. This announcement also adds contracts for the RCMP and VAC for Calian, who has partnered with Bayshore HealthCare, also for four initial years with an optional eight years. The potential dollar value of the contract, should it run for the full 12 years, is $875 million for DND, $60 million for the RCMP, and $55 million for VAC. Kevin Ford, CEO of Calian Ltd iterated that “These are not just contracts to us. At Calian, this [health care for CAF members, veterans, and RCMP] is a passion.”.

One point of concern is that the government has directed Calian Ltd. to direct some of their sub-contracting as “… we [the government] are also committed to creating economic opportunities for Canada’s indigenous peoples and these contracts include clear obligations on the part of Calian to sub-contract with indigenous businesses (Qualtrough)”. I have no quarrels with indigenous groups and I have indigenous acquaintances so please read on before sending hate mail.

In an attempt at full disclosure, let me say that I was a procurement officer in DND during the 1980’s and worked on the Canadian Patrol Frigate Project as well as the CF-18, CP-140 Aurora, and a host of smaller procurements. It is my observation that in almost every major procurement the government was more concerned about redirecting capital equipment procurement funds away from procuring equipment and more into providing Regional and Industrial Benefits (RIBs), always to the detriment of the procurement. In trying to get RIBs, the government, generally, wound up paying more for the equipment or getting less of it because the procurement money was redirected to setting up infrastructure, building plants for foreign companies so they could produce product in Canada, supplementing salaries of workers in new plants, providing tax breaks to foreign companies, etc. A lot of money necessary for RIBs seemed to come from the initial procurement budget for equipment and it was the men and women of the CAF who suffered. I still see this in the helicopter replacement projects, the Canadian Surface Combatant Project, and the CF-18 Replacement Project.

How does this link in with contracting with indigenous businesses? It doesn’t. What it does though is show the same pattern of the government directing money from a procurement objective (health services for CAF, veterans and RCMP) to serve another objective (bolstering indigenous businesses which could be considered a RIB). If the indigenous business can provide the same service at the same cost as any other potential contractor, then sure, why not, give it to them. BUT, if the CAF, veterans, and RCMP are paying a premium so that an indigenous business gets sub-contracts at the expense of their health care dollars, then I believe the affected groups would be annoyed.

Just so there is NO MISUNDERSTANDING, I am not advocating that indigenous businesses be excluded from sub-contracting, that they are not capable of providing the services, nor even that they not get preferential treatment. What I am saying is that every sub-contractor should be on a level playing field and that in the event of a tie, award the sub-contract to the indigenous group. That would be the best use of the money as the CAF, veterans, and RCMP get the best health care at the best possible price, indigenous businesses get a bit of a boost, and there is no additional cost to the taxpayer. Win-win all the way around.

So, the above point aside, it’s good to see the government providing more funding for the health care of CAF member, veterans, and the RCMP, and let’s hope some of it actually gets to where it’s needed.

Wreaths Across Canada

Wreaths Across Canada is a non-profit organization dedicated to remembering all those who have fallen in the service of Canada. They do this by placing a balsam wreath on the headstones of soldiers on the first Sunday in December and this year that ceremony took place at the National Military Cemetery, part of Beechwood Cemetery, on the 3rd December.

The day was not cold with the threat of rain rather than snow. The weather plays a big part in this ceremony and has been held in -15 degree days, sleet storms, and beautiful sunny days. The snow is favoured because it is clean and white and the wreaths just pop with colour against the neutral background. This year’s event was a little lower key because of funding issues so instead of putting wreaths on every headstone, they were restricted to putting wreaths at the ends of the rows throughout the military cemetery. The diplomatic contingents (France, USA, Poland, Netherlands) and the RCMP also play a large part in this ceremony as they lay wreaths for their fallen comrades buried away from home and at the RCMP Cemetery.

So, although a little smaller in scope this year, the important point is to remember and the sizable crowd that turned out made sure that happened.

To see all the pictures, CLICK HERE


Imjin Hockey 2017

For the first time in its history, the Imjin Classic Commemorative Hockey Game was hosted by the Embassy of the Republic of South Korea at the TD Place Arena, home of the Ottawa 67s. The game commemorates the game played between the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) and the Royal 22e Régiment (R22eR) in 1952 on the Imjin River in Korea during the Korean War. Mr. Claude Charland, one of the players in the original 1952 game, was included as part of the official party.

The game was a well skated affair and close for the most part with the first goal not being scored until around the 16:35 mark of the second period by the R22eR. The game stayed close until #11 for the R22eR put in the second goal around 3:20 in the third. The PPCLI were not able to come back leaving the 2-0 victory for the R22eR.

There were mascots aplenty with Juno from the Canadian Army and Soohorang, mascot of the 2018 Seoul Winter Olympics and Bandabi, mascot of the 2018 Winter Paralympics. Juno was seen going through the crowd between periods handing out commemorative hockey pucks while the other two managed to get out on the ice for the opening ceremonies and the trophy presentation. There was a moment of levity as the two Korean mascots had trouble getting out onto the ice as their heads were too large to get through the players gate to the ice. With some turning and twisting, they eventually made it out and afterwards did a little dance on the way back in.

The reception was also held in TD Place and was well attended as players, veterans, and family all filled up on pizza and wings.

To see all the pictures, CLICK HERE


Remembrance Day 2017

Remembrance Day ceremonies run the gauntlet from huge national affairs (such as the National Ceremony in Ottawa at the National War Memorial) to private remembrances at ones’ home. However, the Remembrance Day Ceremony held at National Military Cemetery (part of Beechwood Cemetery) is different in that it takes place amongst the fallen dead whose sacrifices we remember on November 11th. The ceremony at the National Military Ceremony does not have the pomp and circumstance or celebrities that one would expect at a National Military Cemetery but is intimate and respectful, ever mindful that the fallen are amongst the living this day. It’s hard not to be more moved by this smaller expression of gratitude when you are standing and walking between the headstones, row on row.

This year the day was bright and cool, although the cold was not overwhelming because of the warming sun and the lack of wind. The crowd of several hundred gathered and this year I noticed a preponderance of children tagging along with their parents, many parents in uniform. There was Cpl David Harding of the Cameron Highlanders with Silas (8 years) and Felicity (5 years) explaining the headstone inscriptions and Major Auger who held her son through much of the ceremony. The Ottawa Catholic Schoolboard Choir provided the music for the ceremony but the children took the time before the event start to wander through the cemetery.

And there were expressions of sorrow for missing friends and family as people embraced in front of their loved ones’ headstones, soldiers placed poppies on comrades graves, and one, MCpl Sagocak of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, had a cigarette and lit one for a friend and mentor who died in Afghanistan. Major (ret’d) Jack Commerford, a 95 year old World War II veteran who landed on Juno Beach on D-Day, laid the wreath on behalf of the Veterans on Parade and the friends that he had lost then and since.

While the National Ceremony is a spectacle that one should see at least once, the ceremony at the National Military Cemetery in Beechwood Cemetery provides a more moving and intimate experience. If ever you need to be someplace on Remembrance Day, there is no better place.

to see all the images CLICK HERE


OSAA and the
Perley – Rideau

If you have “… no home to go to – come here. The staff spoil us. In fact, it’s a little embarrassing you know”. These are the opening remarks of Mr.Gerald Bowen, a resident at the Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre (the Perley), during the reception mounted by the Ottawa Service Attachés Association (OSAA) at the Perley last night. OSAA is an association of the Defence Attachés from around the world and posted to Ottawa and who have taken the Perley under their wing to raise money and to try and make life better for the veterans served by the Perley.

This year OSAA has worked 5 months to gather 43 sponsors, mostly defence contractors, who donated $33,549.43, money which, with the personal contributions from the Gala Thursday night, is enough to completely renovate the dining facilities at the Perley. This is the biggest fundraising event ever undertaken by OSAA and will continue under the auspices of Project Perley.

The reception was well attended by military, diplomatic envoys (Ambassador’s from Korea and Latvia at least), defence attachés, sponsors, veterans from the Perley, and many veterans’ family members. There were addresses to the reception from Col Thad Hunkins, Defence Attaché from the United States of America and representing OSAA, Mr. Akos Hoffer, CEO of the Perley, and Mr. Ron Buck, Chair of the Board of Directors. However, it was Mr. Bowen’s speech from his wheelchair that seemed to touch the crowd most. “We’re happy here because of you.” he stated. “I don’t think there would be any other place on this earth where we can be as well treated as we can here at the Perley. They’re so good to us”.

Before the big cheque was revealed, there was also a presentation to Ms. Louise Mercier for her fundraising efforts and assistance over the years. The Governor-General was unable to attend but sent a note to OSAA hoping their actions will “inspire others to do the same”. OSAA had this note framed along with the Angel Heart Award noting that Ms. Mercier was “a best friend to OSAA and Canada’s military”.

After this presentation, the cheque was unveiled for $33549.43 and the reception resumed.

to see all the pictures, CLICK HERE


Candlelight Tribute 2017

The Canadian War Museum once again hosted the Candlelight Tribute for Veterans on Monday night, 6th November, 2017, to a full house of veterans and families in the Lebreton Gallery. The Ottawa Police Chorus serenaded the crowd prior to the start of the ceremony and the entrance of the Official Party. The official party of the evening included of the Parliamentary Secretary for Veterans Affairs, the Honourable Sherry Romanado, the Mayor of Ottawa, His Worship Jim Watson, the Director General, Naval Force Development, RCN, Commodore Casper Donovan, and the President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of History and Canadian War Museum, Mr. Mark O’Neill.

The Ceremony started with the laying of wreaths followed by the youth of Canada, represented mostly by the Cadets, War Amps, and Scouts organizations, taking candles given by the seated veterans and placing them on the front stage in front of the wreaths previously laid. There were then brief addresses from Mr. O’Neill and Commodore Donovan followed by the Act of Remembrance, Commitment to Remember, the lament, silence and rouse. The remembrance portion of the program completed, the Mayor rose to award a street sign to the family of a veteran who will have a street in Ottawa named in his/her honour.

This year, the honour of having a street named after a veteran was bestowed upon the family of Leading Writer Stuart Alexander Kettles, an Ottawa born World War II veteran who passed away 20th May, 1966. Mr. Kettles was born in 1917 and joined the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve in 1941. He was posted to the H.M.C.S Athabaskan in 1942 until the Athabaskan was sunk on 30th April, 1944, after which he was taken as a prisoner of war (POW) to Germany for the next year. During his time as a POW he kept a diary detailing the daily life of those captured. After the war, Mr. Kettles continued to serve the community with the Ottawa Police Services from 1946 until 1966. The street, Stuart Kettles Street is located in Bayward Ward.

Following the street name presentation the Mayor proclaimed 5-11 November as Veterans Week and exchanged the framed proclamation with a framed copy of the Veterans Week poster from the Parliamentary Secretary. Ms. Romanado then addressed the veterans before passing the stage to the Canterbury High School Chamber Choir and the Governor General’s Foot Guard Band to end the program.

To see all the photographs, CLICK HERE


Senate Remembrance

On Friday, 3rd November, 2017, the Senate of Canada held its 20th Annual Ceremony of Remembrance in the Senate Chambers of the Parliament Buildings. The official party consisted of the Speaker of the Senate, the Honourable George Furey, the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Honourable Geoff Regan, and the Parliamentary Secretary for Veterans Affairs, the Honourable Sherry Romanado, who stood in for the Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Honourable Seamus O’Regan, who was sidelined with a health issue that was “serious but not life threatening”.

While the speakers today largely focused on the Great War battle of Passchendaele, marking the 100th Anniversary of this battle and the Canadian losses from it, Speaker Furey also remarked that it was the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Dieppe, one of the bloodiest battles in World War II for Canadians. Speaker Regan took another direction and provided an eloquent history of the Memorial Chamber in the Peace Tower and how architect John A. Pearson visited the various battlefields in France and Britain to collect stone for its construction. He noted that the main altar, the “heart of the chamber”, was a gift from Great Britain and that the cap badges of many Canadian regiments are carved into the stone walls of the chamber.

Of particular interest was the fact that Pearson had originally intended to have all the names of the war dead engraved into the walls of the Chamber but that became impossible as the numbers of dead, over 66,000, continued to mount. Instead it lead to the First World War Book of Remembrance, which sits upon the altar in the Chamber and to which six other Books of Remembrance of war dead, from the Nile to Korea to present day, sit on other altars, pages turned each day at 1100 hours. As Speaker Regan noted, “it was not possible to return the remains of all the fallen for burial in Canada” but Pearson got his wish “… to provide Canadians with a way to honour those lost and a place on Canadian soil to mourn them.”.

to see all the pictures, CLICK HERE


Operation Nanook

This past August I was a guest of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and allowed a close-up look at a portion of this year’s Operation Nanook in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, For those who don’t know, Rankin Inlet is a forward operating location (FOL) of the CAF located about 470 km north of Churchill, Manitoba, on the north north-west shore of Hudson Bay. Operation Nanook is an annual operation that takes place in Canada’s north to assert sovereignty and provide rigourous training for CAF personnel. This year, Op Nanook was divided into two locations: Labrador which held sovereignty operations, and Rankin Inlet which held northern training ops and an emergency preparedness exercise. It is the second, Rankin Inlet, to which I was given a quick overview during 23rd & 24th August as part of a media excursion and on behalf of Esprit de Corps magazine.

Now, Esprit de Corps is printing my observations over two issues of the magazine (the first in Vol. 24 Issue 9 just out, the second in the following issue) so I would suggest you pick up a copy and have a read. However, do to space limitations there has been some limited editing in the magazine which, while not required for regular readers of the magazine, may be of interest to those who don’t know what Joint Task Force North is or does or may need some more detailed explanation of some of the things I saw. To that end, I’m making available the entire story here or use this link

To just see all the pictures I took, CLICK HERE

Canada – Russia
Hockey Summit

Once again two great hockey powers came together to determine hockey supremacy reminiscent of that great Canada-Russia series of 1972, forty-five years ago. This time, however, it was the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Ottawa against an Esprit de Corps Commandos team. The Russian team, known as the “Red Machine”, not able to field an entire team within its own staff, augmented their roster with quality players from Toronto, an A level team known as the “Kremlin”, as well as a couple of players from south of the border. The Commandos, facing a similar problem, gathered players from where they could, including some from the General Officers/Flag Officers (GOFOs) team from the Department of National Defence, their longtime nemesis. I guess the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

This was a quality game with good skaters and puck handlers on both teams, albeit the Russians having more depth on their bench. The crowd was large for this type of game and was clearly Russian in the majority. The Commandos opened the scoring but it was soon evened up by the end of the first. By the end of the second period, the Russians were ahead 2 to 1 as the players got a rest and the ice got resurfaced. Within the first minute of the third period, the Commandos evened the score and with 10 minutes to go, got the go ahead marker. It came down to the wire when in the last minute the Russians pulled their goalie but it was for naught as the Commandos put in an empty netter to put the game out of reach. Final score – 4-2 for the Esprit de Corps Commandos.

The Russian Embassy hosted a reception following the game with lots of food and drink and His Excellency Alexander Darchiev, Ambassador of Russia, addressed the attendees extolling the virtues of this great rematch and proposed to make it a semi-annual affair. Most Valuable Players were named from each team with Commandos goalie being selected by the Russians as the Commandos MVP and #13 from the Russian team (Petrenko I think) being selected by the Commandos as Russia’s best. LGen. Al Meinzinger accepted the game trophy from the Ambassador on behalf of the Commandos.

To see all the pictures, CLICK HERE


Team Canada Departs
for Invictus Games

This morning a small crowd gathered at Ottawa’s Via Rail Station to wish athletes from Team Canada well for their upcoming trials at the Invictus Games in Toronto. Among those attending were Jody Mitic, ex-serviceman, double leg amputee, and current Ottawa city councillor, Walt Natyncyzk ,ex-Chief of Defence Staff now Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs, MP Karen McCrimmon (ex-service), Marc Garneau, ex-service now Minister of Transport, Ottawa-South MP John Fraser, and hosting the event, Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, CEO of Via Rail (also Honoury LCol of the Régiment de Maisonneuve).

In addressing the departing athletes, Mr. Desjardins-Siciliano noted that he was,

“… specifically inspired by the resilience and continue courage and determination that you have to represent Canada after that [military] service. And, therefore, I hope you all realize how you continue to be an inspiration, someone to look up to, heroes of Canada.”

Speaking to the group, Team Canada co-captain, MCpl (ret’d) Natacha Dupuis reminded everyone that,

”… what we need to remember is within our recovery there is hard times but together remember that there is hope and when you get the strength to keep on going there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

After well wishes from MP John Fraser, Minister Marc Garneau, and Councillor Jody Mitic, everyone continued to finish off the pastries and coffee supplied by Via Rail for the reception prior to boarding the train for Toronto.

To see all the pictures, CLICK HERE


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