Chief of the Defence Staff foreword

I am proud to announce the release of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Retention Strategy, again renewing our commitments to better support our people and their families in their service to Canada. As articulated in Canada’s Defence Policy Strong, Secure, Engaged, people are the most valuable resource in the CAF. It is not simply enough to attract the best and brightest. We need to provide the support necessary to ensure a full and fulfilling career in order to retain our members and their valuable experience. The CAF Retention Strategy is therefore aimed at guiding both broad and targeted activities to improve the experience of all CAF members so that you and your families feel supported and empowered to continue a challenging but extremely rewarding career in uniform.

Successful retention of our members is a complex, multi-faceted endeavour. While the Strategy will initiate operational and procedural changes, it is also designed to align and work in collaboration with our other efforts which support broader culture change – the recent establishment of the Chief of Professional Conduct and Culture, the Total Health and Wellness Strategy, and the CAF Human Resources (HR) Strategy currently in development. The Retention Strategy will be an enabler of the culture change that the CAF is pushing towards, engaging in measures to ensure that the concerns of all our members are heard and addressed. These will include: the undertaking of new governance structures to ensure that retention maintains its place at the forefront of leadership consideration; the review of and subsequent changes to, existing measures and activities to better identify and address the concerns of our members; and the development of targeted analysis and subsequent retention efforts on specific areas of concern. Through the efforts and activities guided by the Strategy, our organization will better understand the changing needs of our team, and how best to support you or your family face the challenges of tomorrow.

Grounded in research and responding to evidence, the Retention Strategy provides the guidance necessary to address current and historical concerns in a focused fashion. It establishes the means to keep our finger on the pulse of the entire CAF, so we are prepared to continuously identify and address the needs of all our members. The Strategy is designed to grow and evolve as necessary, instituting an evergreen effort to respond to the changing environment around us, the operational needs of the CAF, and more notably the needs of our members and their families now and in the future. Whether you are away from family, facing personal hardship, or performing duties that put you and others in danger, your contributions are highly valued. In honouring and supporting your stalwart loyalty, this Strategy commits to better acknowledging, understanding, and providing for your needs so that the CAF of tomorrow provides greater opportunity, greater support, and greater inclusivity to all of its members from each corner of this country. It is crucial that leaders throughout the CAF embrace and employ the efforts of retention. It is imperative that our leaders internalize this approach to effectively support our members. At each level, I expect leadership to support this effort and for each individual to proactively commit to fostering a culture of retention, buying into the activities, and ultimately seeking to improve the CAF experience both in your work and in your daily interactions.

The CAF is at a point of transformation change, where outdated past practices, new global challenges, and an extant vision for defence places a renewed focus on people and how best to champion their needs as our most valuable resource. The CAF today must prepare for the emerging needs of tomorrow and I am confident that you will rise to that challenge. Retention is an ongoing effort and a shared responsibility across the organization and the leaders that represent it. As your Chief of the Defence Staff, I commit to supporting your needs and those of your families through this Strategy and its initiatives. Likewise, I expect the same commitment from you as we grow a more inclusive and better-supported retention culture.

CDS Signature

W.D. Eyre
Chief of the Defence Staff

Page details

Date modified: