Conduct and culture change progress tracker

Harmful behavior, including sexual misconduct, within the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is an ongoing threat to personnel and undermines the institution’s capability to defend Canada and Canadians.

The Defence Team is committed to preventing all forms of systemic misconduct, and we understand that achieving measurable, positive and enduring cultural change is critical to supporting Defence Team members and restoring public confidence in our ability to deliver Defence for Canadians.

We are taking action to achieve sustainable and intersectional cultural change. Our continued efforts will focus on addressing and preventing all forms of systemic misconduct and supporting those who have been harmed. We are committed to doing more than just preventing harm. We will create an environment where members can reach their full potential and contribute meaningfully to the Defence of Canada.

This tracker will be updated on a quarterly basis, or as new information becomes available.

Spectrum of harms

The negative effects of misconduct fall along a broad spectrum, including the negative behaviours below.

This graphic demonstrates how the items at the bottom of the list are more severe in harm than the ones at the top of the list
  1. Lack of Inclusivity
  2. Unsupportive Environments
  3. Microaggressions
  4. Bullying
  5. Intimidation
  6. Harassment
  7. Threats
  8. Violence

On this page

About Pathways to Progress

Taking a whole-of-Defence-Team approach, Pathways to Progress was conceived as an action plan to capture and consolidate some of the key efforts planned or underway in the near term to remediate and prevent further harm to Defence Team members and build a foundation for positive and measurable change.

We will ensure that the voices of survivors and other internal partners and external stakeholders inform and guide all lines of effort.

Since the launch of its renewed approach to culture change the Department has been engaging with internal programs and personnel and external stakeholders to learn from their lived experiences and gather their feedback and suggestions. The Department has also launched a Defence Team Conduct and Culture Consultation, which will provide Defence Team members—military and civilian—with a safe and supported space to share their points of view, ideas and feedback on Defence culture and what must be done to build a safer, more welcoming institution.

On 30 May 2022, the Government released the final Independent External Comprehensive Review of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces and outlined the next steps to address and eradicate sexual harassment and misconduct. This Review examines our institutional policies, practices procedures and culture. It will help us understand the existing workplace dynamics that are enabling harmful behaviours and provides recommendations on how we must change to address them.

Efforts are on two tracks

  1. 1 - Remediation of harm

    People-focused, creating systems to support the timely and appropriate resolution of cases that come forward, ensuring procedural fairness and transparency; providing comprehensive supports for those affected; and examining options for external reporting mechanisms.

  2. 2 - Culture change

    Prevention-focused programs and policies aimed at setting the conditions for improving the work environment for all Defence Team members and targeting the full spectrum of harms and misconduct.

Initiatives for fiscal year 2021-2022

Supports to Survivors

Bottom line: Building comprehensive support structures through dialogue with survivors, increasing scope and access to resources.

Initiative Current Status

Addition of SMRC Liaison Officer at Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC).

Target: Aug 21

Completed. An individual has been appointed and is working as the VAC-Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC) Liaison Officer as of September 2021.

Expand SMRC services to DND Public Service Employees.

Target: Aug 21

Completed. Services were made available to DND Public Service Employees in August 2021.

Expand SMRC services to former CAF members.

Target: Nov 21

Completed. As of November 2021, services are now available to former CAF members.

Expand SMRC Response and Support Coordination services to two additional regions outside the National Capital Region.

Target: Mar 22

Completed. SMRC has expanded services to Quebec and Pacific regions.

Expand SMRC Response and Support Coordination services to three additional regions.

Target: FY 2022-2023

In Progress. The expansion of the three additional regions will follow Quebec and Pacific for a total of five regions.

Expand transfer payment program to support community-based service providers, including sexual assault centres.

Target: Mar 23

In progress. The current transfer payment program will continue to provide support to service providers until its end date in March 2023 as the new program is designed and implemented. At that time, the new, expanded grant program will take its place.

Launch stakeholder consultation to build Joint Military Sexual Trauma Pilot Peer Support Program.

Target: Aug-Sep 21

Completed. Consultations successfully completed on 12 November 2021.

Adapt online platform for both the SMRC 24/7 expansion and the online component of the peer support program.

Target: Nov 21

Completed. Existing online application adapted to reflect requirements for and branding of SMRC support services.

Functionalities continue to be refined, with the application undergoing continuous testing as new components are added and updates are made.

Establish a joint DND/VAC peer support program Phase 1: Launch pilot of initial online components of the joint DND/VAC Military Sexual Trauma (MST) peer support program.

Target: Jun 22

In progress. Consultations with individuals with lived experience were completed on 12 November 2021. Peer support model development is ongoing, as well as staffing for key positions, including peer supporters.

Establish a joint DND/VAC peer support program Phase 2: Launch pilot of initial face-to-face components of the joint DND/VAC Military Sexual Trauma (MST) peer support program.

Target: Sep 22

Pending. To follow Phase 1.

Include updated version of Military Sexual Trauma (MST) in 3.0 Glossary of Terms. This will achieve a shared understanding of the common terms used to describe psychological trauma.

Target: Sep 22

In progress. A draft definition has been reviewed by the stakeholder community, validating inputs with the persons with lived experience community to ensure it resonates with them.

It is expected that the definition will be announced and published in December 2022.

Establish an interim mechanism to provide victims access to independent legal information, advice and representation through a reimbursement mechanism.

Target: Apr 22

Delayed. Immediate interim options are being explored in light of Mme Arbour’s interim recommendation of 20 October 2021, and due diligence is being conducted to ensure appropriate financial authorities are in place.

Establish a long-term, sustainable independent legal advice program for victims to access legal information, advice and representation in both the civilian and military justice systems.

Target: Sep 23

In progress. The design and development of a long-term program is underway.

Restorative Engagement - requirement of Schedule K of the Heyder-Beattie Class Action Final Settlement Agreement.

Target: Nov 21

Completed. The Restorative Engagement program was launched on 15 November 2021 and is currently at Initial Operational Capability (IOC). IOC is national in scope, and inclusive of all members of the Defence Team.

Increase and expand the functionality of the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC) application to encompass all requirements of existing SMRC services and the online component of the peer support program

Target: Jun 22

In progress. Testing for SMRC’s support services application is ongoing in anticipation of a public launch in spring 2022. The application will continue to be tested and refined overtime, as new components are added and updates made.

Justice and Accountability

Bottom line: Timely and appropriate resolution of cases that come forward ensuring procedural fairness and transparency, and examination of options for external reporting mechanisms.

Initiative Current Status

Initiate Review Complaints Management System

Target: Nov 22

In progress. DND/CAF has initiated the review of the complaints management process to better understand the baseline of the current-state of complaints processes. This included assessing the existing complaints approach, defining key milestones and future state vision, prioritizing key areas.

Interim report and recommendations for review of complaints management process.

Target: Oct 21

Delayed. Established overall concept to re-imagine, re-shape, re-define and reconcile the Defence Team, Conflict Complaint Prevention and Resolution System using a human-centric approach to achieve a fair, trusted, accessible and valued lived experience.

Confirm the critical changes to facilitate access to services for Defence Team complainants.

Target: Nov 21

Completed. The current complaints system has been mapped, the strategic system review has begun, and two key deliverables are identified:

  1. Once a person has decided to submit a complaint, the affected person will receive a standardized and seamless level of guidance, support and information throughout the complaints process, until their complaint has been resolved.
  2. A digital solution for reporting, tracking and case managing/monitoring of conflicts and complaints within the department. As a starting point, the digital solution will focus on harassment, hateful conduct and sexual misconduct.

Complete implementation of remaining provisions of Bill C-77

Target: Spring 22

Completed. On 24 Mar 2022, the regulations necessary to support the implementation of the remaining provisions of Bill C-77 were approved by the required regulatory-making authorities with a coming- into-force date of 20 June, 2022.

Fast-track implementation of Restorative Services and establish a 12/5 toll-free conflict and complaint resolution helpline for Restorative Services.

Target: Dec 21

Completed. The implementation of restorative services was expedited to fill the restorative services lead position and put the contract for Subject Matter Expert support in place. This allowed for initial launch of the 12/5 toll-free conflict and complaint resolution helpline, providing provide accessible, coast-to-coast service. Active offices in Gagetown, Bagotville, Cold Lake and Esquimalt were in place to answer the phone line in rotating shifts throughout the day.

Expand access to Restorative Services across the Department by staffing RS practitioners, focusing on addressing interpersonal harm and restoring healthy workplaces.

Target: Mar 22

Completed. Initial Operating Capacity has been reached and further expansion and refinement of the program is expected to continue through Dec 22.

Establish a governance committee to implement the recommendations of the Third Independent Review of the National Defence Act as well as recommendations from the Independent External Review. This will be to include a whole-of-government approach.

Target: Sep 21

Completed. The directive establishing the direction, guiding principles and structure of the External Comprehensive Reviews Implementation Committee (ECRIC) was finalized in October 2021. ECRIC is co-led by the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff and the Judge Advocate General and composed of multiple stakeholders, with a permanent secretariat that has also been stood up.

Completion of the internal DND/CAF Declaration of Victims’ Rights in the Military Justice System Survey and launch of the external DND/CAF Declaration of Victims’ Rights in the Military Justice System Survey.

Target: Sep 21

Completed. The internal survey was completed in July, 2021. The external survey was launched in June, 2021 and closed in August.

Establish Military Justice Modernization Division within the Office of the JAG.

Target: Jul 21

Completed. The Military Justice Modernization Division was established informally on an interim basis within the Office of the Judge Advocate General in July 2021. The new division is responsible for supporting the implementation of the 3rd Independent Review of the National Defence Act and recommendations related to the military justice system from any other external review. Steps are being taken to permanently establish the division in 2022.

Interim Recommendation from Madame Arbour: “Implement recommendation 68 from the Fish report immediately. Offences of a sexual nature under the Criminal Code, including historical sexual offences, alleged to have been perpetrated by a CAF member, past or present (“sexual offences”) should be referred to civilian authorities. Consequently, starting immediately, the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (CFPM) should transfer to civilian police forces all allegations of sexual offences, including allegations currently under investigation by the CFNIS, unless such investigation is near completion. In any event, in all cases charges should be laid in civilian court.

Correspondingly, civilian authorities should exercise investigative and prosecutorial jurisdiction over all sexual offences by CAF members. Should civilian authorities decline to proceed, the matter should be returned to the CAF to determine whether disciplinary action is desirable under the National Defence Act.

In progress: On November 4, 2021, the Minister of National Defence accepted the interim recommendation of the Independent External Comprehensive Review and the Defence Team began immediate work toward implementation.

The Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (CFPM) and the Director of Military Prosecutions (DMP) issued a joint statement on 5 Nov 21 that they would implement Justice Arbour’s interim recommendations immediately and the work on implementation is underway.

The Acting Judge Advocate General briefed at federal, provincial, and territorial meetings of Deputy Ministers, and Ministers of Justice and Public Safety on the implementation.

The Minister of National Defence has also initiated conversations with provinces and territories to discuss and resolve any issues identified.

Culture Change

Bottom line: A cohesive, comprehensive approach to culture change across the Defence Team, including direct monitoring of efforts to ensure no gaps and an organization where all Defence Team members have a sense of belonging, are valued for their unique capabilities and are encouraged to be their authentic selves in participating fully in the workplace.

Initiative Current Status

Launch the Chief of the Defence Staff and Deputy Minister Initiating Directive, defining expectations for the organization-wide change and creation of the Chief, Professional Conduct and Culture (CPCC).

Target: May 21

Completed. Deputy Minister and Chief of the Defence Staff published the Initiating Directive on Culture Change in April 2021. The Directive served as an initial guiding document provided to DND/CAF to progress culture and governance to better embody shared professional values and ethos that embrace the diversity and values of Canada.

Establish CPCC as the oversight body for the Defence Team for all lines of current and future culture change efforts.

Target: Sep 21

Completed. CPCC’s structure is established as of the beginning of the fiscal year and will continue to expand as conduct and culture-related programs are consolidated from other L1 organizations. CPCC’s specific functional authorities are being finalized to support the tasks and responsibilities assigned in the Initiating Directive for Professional Conduct and Culture. The development of a culture change framework and strategy is underway.

Consolidate and expand existing services/initiatives focused on anti-racism, GBA+, and systemic discrimination under the auspices of CPCC.

Target: Jan 22

Completed: A number of existing programs have been consolidated within CPCC to give them common leadership, direction and shared support to reduce stovepipes and realize synergies. These include the Anti-Racism Secretariat, Gender Equity and Intersectional Analysis, Official Languages, and the Human Rights directorate. CPCC achieved Initial Operating Capacity (IOC) in October 2021. Informed by the consultations, expansion of key areas will be identified and developed in Fiscal Year 2022/23.

Define a framework for monitoring and evaluation of culture change

Target: FY 2022-2023

In progress. Extensive consultations are ongoing and will form the basis of the framework for monitoring and evaluation of culture change. The performance measurement process will include the generation and publication of a yearly report.

Launch a website tool which will publicly track progress on initiatives related to misconduct.

Target: Dec 21

Completed. DND/CAF launched the first iteration of this public-facing webpage that outlines information on Pathways to Progress. Further enhancements are planned and updates will be made on a rolling basis to capture and consolidate prior, current and future efforts.

Publish updated CAF Ethos to describe the foundational principles, values, professional expectations of CAF members.

Target: Nov 21

In progress – delayed. The Canadian Defence Academy has completed the draft of the new CAF ethos, Trusted to Serve. The document is currently in the approvals process. This updated Ethos will include the comprehensive development of learning aids to support the professional socialization of our Ethos. The Ethos will serve as the basis to review our Leadership Doctrine. Publication expected in spring/summer 2022.

Improvements to national selection board process for promotion, including new measures to reduce bias and foster inclusivity and diversity.

Target: Nov 21

Completed. Improvements to the national selection board process for promotion are achieved/sustained, including new measures to reduce bias and foster inclusivity and diversity. Each selection board is comprised of a minimum of one voting member from an equity-seeking group to expand the perspectives applied when evaluating files.

Review cultural and professional conduct training delivered during CAF recruit-level training programs,

Target: Nov 21

In progress. A thorough and comprehensive review of the approach to basic training is underway at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School.

The development of a conduct and culture training and education framework is in progress. The framework will enhance education and awareness programs, related to conduct and culture.

Implement enhanced processes and procedures to reinforce and support clear standards of behaviour and professional military conduct, for all CAF members.

Target: Dec 22

In progress. In the course of developing the Code of Professional Military Conduct, it was determined that the elements required to support the intended outcomes were centered on a renewed focus on mechanisms already existing or in progress. These include the development of a new CAF ethos, Trusted to Serve, as well as a revitalized Defence Ethics Program and training and education.

A periodic attestation will reaffirm our duties and obligations to embody DND/CAF core values and ethics and will serve as a personal commitment to uphold the professional conduct standards expected of all CAF members.    

Official release of the CAF Employment Equity Plan 2021-2026.

Target: Oct 21

Completed. The Employment Equity Plan 2021-2026 was approved in June 2021. This initiative is an ongoing multi-year commitment to eliminate systemic employment barriers for designated groups: women, aboriginal peoples, visible minorities and persons with disabilities. In addition, this new plan recognizes the LGBTQ2+ communities as a fifth equity seeking group.

Consolidate Department-wide roadmaps for culture change to monitor progress across Defence Team.

Target: Sep 21

In progress – delayed. CPCC is tracking a number of key programs and grassroots initiatives related to culture change occurring across the Defence Team. This will lead to a better sense of ongoing activity, will create avenues to share best practices across the organization, and support the identification of gaps in programming.

Develop engagement plan inclusive of external and internal stakeholders.

Target: Sep 21

In progress. CPCC has conducted initial consultations reaching over 9,000 Defence Team members and external constituents, and is now in the process of developing a Comprehensive Engagement Framework to support the ongoing involvement of internal Defence Team partners and external stakeholders in the change process. The approach will ensure that the engagement process is transparent, systematic, inclusive, and coordinated. The framework will be informed by the ongoing review of successful engagement models from industry and other federal organizations.

Complete initial phase of dress instruction rewrite to remove sex/gender-based pronouns.

Target: Aug 21

In progress – delayed. The initial consultation and draft of the amended Dress Instructions were focused on inclusive standards. The draft has been reviewed and approved by the Chief of the Defence Staff and awaiting a launch date. Revised target of June 2022.

Improvements to General/Flag Officer selection processes.

Target: Oct 21

Completed. The National Selection Boards for Fall 2021 were completed and have incorporated key changes. Candidates were required to complete three psychometric assessments (fluid intelligence / cognitive ability, leadership competencies and personality/integrity). A senior DND civilian executive was also included as a voting member to expand the perspectives brought to candidate files. Following the selection board, candidates recommended for promotion will undergo a multi-rater (i.e. 360) assessment and vetting for misconduct.

Introduce expectations for Inclusive Leadership and include as part of the selection process for senior Defence team leaders.

Target: Sep 21

Completed. On 28 September 2021, CPCC published an Initiating Directive to incorporate the measurement and evaluation of inclusive behaviours within existing Defence Team personnel performance and management frameworks. Implementation will cascade down through DND and CAF over the next three years. Placing value on the leadership attributes that foster inclusive and psychologically safe work environments will help to ensure that leaders selected for increasing levels of responsibility embody the characteristics required to lead a diverse and operationally effective organization.

Current state, Planned actions

Shifts in culture require sustained effort within every organization across DND and the CAF, with the active engagement of personnel at all levels. This work includes:

  • challenging and addressing systemic norms, practices, and attitudes,
  • actively building a climate where members feel safe to come forward with complaints or concerns,
  • emphasizing that diversity and inclusion positively impact operational effectiveness.
Lines of Effort Current State / Planned Actions

Supports to Survivors

Bottom line: Building comprehensive support structures through dialogue with survivors, increasing scope and access to resources.

Current state: Access for current members only. Strong involvement by survivors in the priorities for improvement and approaches to change.

Planned action: Increased availability of support for former members, Veterans and DND Public Servants; increased availability of services across different regions; increased reach of services through expansion of online, peer support and community based services.

Justice and Accountabilty

Bottom line: Timely and appropriate resolution of cases that come forward, ensuring procedural fairness and transparency, and examination of options for external reporting mechanisms.

Current state: Work has been done to better support victims with victim-centric and trauma-informed processes; however, continued implementation of legislated changes is required to fully enshrine the rights of victims into the military justice system.

Multiple points for recourse/complaints are available; however, there is lack of clarity on the specific administrative processes, and concerns around transparency. Not all processes are trauma-informed, and most systems are not integrated. There is limited access to prevention and restorative programs for teams/workplaces.

Planned action: Enhance the military justice system through the implementation of the remaining provisions of Bill C-77; the recommendations from the 3rd Independent Review of the National Defence Act; and, the forthcoming Independent External Comprehensive Review. Streamline complainants’ process and improved access to available recourse, and expand prevention efforts.

Culture Change

Bottom line: A cohesive, comprehensive approach to culture change across the Defence Team, including direct monitoring of efforts to identify gaps and ensure an organization where all Defence Team members have a sense of belonging, are valued for their unique capabilities and are encouraged to be their authentic selves while participating fully in the workplace.

Current state: Multiple efforts for change and improvement underway, driven by strong and effective networks and local champions; however, there is limited cohesion and diffusion of change efforts. Existing approaches to leadership development include training and development focused on inclusivity and diversity. A different method for leader selection – where senior leaders are assessed and evaluated on their approach to diversity and inclusion, has been launched. A comprehensive review of the efforts of change is planned, the results of which will inform initiatives that will cascade to more junior leaders.

Planned action: Improved alignment of culture change efforts within DND/CAF and a centralized focus for accountability and change.

Inclusive leadership institutionalized as essential to career progression; systemic barriers to inclusion identified and remediated.


Shifts in culture will continue to require a sustained effort at all levels of the organization. This work will include addressing common misconceptions, such as the belief that diversity and inclusion can negatively impact operational effectiveness, and in building an organizational climate where members feel safe to come forward with complaints or concerns.

But change is happening. Emerging organic efforts to address the need for change are being seen at the working level; comprehensive approaches to professional conduct and culture are being developed by large internal departmental organizations; and increased numbers of persons coming forward to disclose and report adverse events are all indicators of both the urgent need for change and to our commitment to change at all levels.

Focused efforts on culture change will continue while we prepare to address the recommendations from the Independent External Comprehensive Review, conducted by former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour.

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