1. Well-supported, diverse, resilient people and families

People are at the core of everything the Canadian Armed Forces does to deliver on its mandate. As we look to the future, we will also refocus our efforts on ensuring the entire Defence team has the care, services and support it requires. Doing so will be central to attracting and retaining the people we need to keep Canada strong, secure, and engaged in the world. Investing in our people is the single most important commitment we can make.

The Defence team is composed of Canadian Armed Forces members and defence civilians of the Department of National Defence. This integrated, civilian-military team works to deliver Defence objectives. The Canadian Armed Forces executes operations at home and abroad to defend Canada and Canadian interests, while defence civilians perform a number of critical enabling functions including intelligence, equipment procurement and maintenance, policy, communications support, infrastructure services, finance, human resources, information technology and scientific research and development. In order to meet the high ambition set out in this policy, the Canadian Armed Forces will increase its ranks by 3,500 Regular Force (to 71,500 total) and 1,500 Reserve Force members (to 30,000 total) and the Department of National Defence will hire an additional 1,150 defence civilians to support military operations in areas such as intelligence and procurement.

Some of the new initiatives to support our personnel in this policy, such as mental health initiatives and promoting a culture of healthy, respectful workplace behaviour, apply to the entire team, while others such as the foundational transformation of transition support are unique to our military members.

Military service is extremely rewarding, and military members and their families become stronger through the unique challenges and opportunities they face in their work. They become more resilient, discover and strengthen their best attributes, and live meaningful, fulfilled lives, secure in the knowledge that they are serving their country, and that they are appreciated and will be taken care of throughout their service.

Profession of arms

The profession of arms in Canada is composed of military members dedicated to the defence of Canada and its interests, as directed by the Government of Canada.

The profession of arms is distinguished by the concept of service before self, and the acceptance of the concept of unlimited liability.

Its members possess a systematic and specialized body of military knowledge and skills acquired through education, training and experience, and they apply this expertise competently and objectively in the accomplishment of their missions.

Members of the Canadian profession of arms share a set of core values and beliefs found in the military ethos that guides them in the performance of their duty and allows a special relationship of trust to be maintained with Canadian society.

Military service is also inherently challenging. On operations, the potential for serious physical and mental injuries is a reality. Prolonged absence from loved ones can put strain on families and relationships. The Canadian Armed Forces must deliver on its responsibility to care and support our people when they encounter these challenges.

Delivering on our commitment to our people and their families is a sacred obligation and requires a comprehensive suite of initiatives that cover all aspects of how we recruit, lead, train and care for sailors, soldiers, airwomen and men, as well as all those who support them. As Canada and Canadians change, so too must our approach to our people. To ensure they and their families thrive, we will continue to incorporate progressive best practices into our approach. Throughout, our actions must be underpinned by a sense of compassion and responsibility towards the women and men who wear the uniform, and their loved ones.

Recruitment, training and retention

The operational success of the Canadian Armed Forces begins with a robust recruiting system that engages and attracts the best and brightest, communicates the unique opportunities and benefits of military service, and efficiently and effectively selects and enrolls new recruits. The current system is too slow to compete in Canada’s highly competitive labour market and does not effectively communicate the exciting and fulfilling employment opportunities offered by military service. The Canadian Armed Forces offers more than 100 career options, many of which are unique to the military, and provides unparalleled professional and personal development opportunities.

The military’s personnel system must be more agile and responsible. It must be able to maintain a skilled force across a broad range of tasks while meeting requirements in critical occupations facing shortages, particularly those focused on caring for our personnel such as medical officers, dentists, pharmacists, and social workers. The Canadian Armed Forces must also attract Canadians with the aptitudes and skill-sets required to succeed in highly technical domains such as space and cyberspace and to operate and maintain increasingly sophisticated equipment, including remotely piloted systems.

Defence civilians

Defence civilians face different demands than many of their public service counterparts, and Defence is committed to meeting their needs accordingly.

Working at the Department of National Defence involves weighty decisions that can impact the lives of others, placing stress on employees that is unique across the public service. Defence civilians also form close bonds with their military co-workers and can be deeply affected by tragic losses associated with military operations.

Increasingly, defence civilians also have a role in supporting operations. Policy advisors and tradespeople deploy alongside the Canadian Armed Forces in expeditionary operations, facing similar challenges associated with prolonged absences from family and the stresses of high-tempo military operations in dangerous locations.

Most importantly, the Canadian Armed Forces must reflect the diversity of the country we defend. We need a military that looks like Canada. In particular, we are committed to attracting, recruiting and retaining more women in the Canadian Armed Forces across all ranks and promoting women into senior leadership positions. The Canadian Armed Forces is committed to gender equality and providing a work environment where women are welcomed, supported and respected.

Programs for Indigenous canadians

The Canadian Armed Forces has a number of unique programs to provide Indigenous Peoples with an opportunity to learn about an exciting career with the military. Whether participants decide to join or not, these programs offer interesting opportunities to gain skills and knowledge about the Canadian Armed Forces.

Aboriginal Leadership Opportunities Year: Provides a one-year educational and leadership experience through the Royal Military College (RMC) of Canada. During the program, participants are enrolled as Officer Cadets and receive free tuition and books. Participants have the option to continue at RMC in a degree program with the Forces.

Bold Eagle, Raven, Black Bear: These three summer training programs combine military lifestyle with cultural awareness to give a six-week taste of military training with the option – but no commitment – to join the Canadian Armed Forces. Training is based on the Army Reserve Basic military qualification and covers topics such as weapons handling, navigation, first-aid, drill and survival skills. All three programs begin with a Culture Camp taught by Elders of different First Nations and Indigenous groups, to ease the transition from civilian to military lifestyle and to ground the training in common spiritual beliefs.

Canadian Armed Forces Aboriginal Entry Program: This special three-week program allows hands-on experience with military training, careers, and lifestyle with no obligation to join the Forces. Participants receive a stipend and a certificate of military achievement for completing the program. Transport, accommodation, food, clothing and equipment are provided for the duration of the course while participants learn about the long and proud history of Indigenous Canadians in the military and take part in exercises similar to basic training.

Once recruited, the Canadian Armed Forces needs to follow through with modern, world-class training that will put new recruits on a solid foundation to succeed. This will require adapting training to meet the highly technical requirements of modern militaries, and the Canadian Armed Forces will also need to demonstrate to potential recruits that the military can offer competitive training and technical certifications on par with the standards of industry and the private sector. This includes maintaining the long tradition of providing the complete range of military education through proud institutions such as the Royal Military College of Canada, renewed Collège militaire royal in St-Jean, and the Canadian Forces College.

It is imperative that we protect our investment in the expertise and knowledge of our people. This policy includes a number of initiatives designed to help the Canadian Armed Forces retain the talented people it recruits.

Tax relief on deployed operations:

Currently, the tax relief benefit for military personnel on deployed operations is applied inconsistently. This benefit is meant to acknowledge the considerable sacrifices Canadian Armed Forces members and their families make in defence of Canada and its values, when deployed internationally. A more consistent application of this benefit will improve morale and recognize the burdens taken on by military members and their families in service of our country.

The Canadian Armed Forces will keep remuneration and benefits of Regular and Reserve personnel under constant review, to ensure that military personnel receive fair compensation for their service to Canada. The Canadian Armed Forces’ competitive compensation package goes beyond an adequate salary and includes a wide range of benefits, recognition, care and support throughout military members’ careers. Canadians know that when our women and men in uniform deploy, they, and their families, make great sacrifices on their behalf. From the moment they put on the uniform, members of the Canadian Armed Forces take on unlimited liability. In particular, when the Government of Canada calls upon members of the Canadian Armed Forces to deploy anywhere in the world, it is their duty to go. With this in mind, in order to ensure that Canadian Armed Forces members are treated equally on deployment, all troops deployed on all named international operations Footnote 3 will no longer pay federal income tax on their salary up to the level of Lieutenant-Colonel. Footnote 4 This change in policy will not affect the assessment and awarding of existing hardship and risk allowances earned by Canadian Armed Forces personnel deployed abroad.

Furthermore, the Canadian Armed Forces will explore how to best enhance the flexibility of military careers. This includes making it easier to transition between full- and part-time military service in order to retain valuable military skills and accommodate changing career paths.

The Canadian Armed Forces will also introduce new measures that allow some military members who no longer meet universality of service – that is, the requirement that all Canadian Armed Forces personnel be fit for deployment – due to illness or injury incurred while serving in the military to continue to serve on a case-by-case basis. This will help retain valuable knowledge and skills in the Canadian Armed Forces to meet specific requirements.

In short, to be highly competitive in the labour market the Canadian Armed Forces will become more personalized in its administrative and leadership approach, and provide the career options, satisfaction, and support necessary for our people and their families to succeed.

New initiatives

To ensure the effective recruitment, training and retention of the future work force, the Defence team will:

  1. Reduce significantly the time to enroll in the Canadian Armed Forces by reforming all aspects of military recruiting.
  2. Implement a recruitment campaign to promote the unique full- and part-time career opportunities offered by the Canadian Armed Forces, as well asto support key recruitment priorities, including hiring more women, increasing diversity, addressing priority occupations, and the requirements of the Reserve Force.
  3. Restore the Collège militaire royal in St-Jean as a full degree-granting institution to help prepare the next generation of Canadian Armed Forces leaders.
  4. Increase the capacity of the Canadian Armed Forces Leadership and Recruit School to accommodate the increased number of recruits associated witha larger force size.
  5. Develop and implement a comprehensive Canadian Armed Forces Retention Strategy to keep our talented people in uniform with a welcoming and healthy work environment.
  6. Undertake a comprehensive review of conditions of service and career paths to allow much more personalized career choices and flexibility.
  7. Modernize the Canadian Armed Forces Honours and Awards system to ensure military members’ service to Canada is recognized in a more timely and appropriate manner.
  8. Implement the first-ever, integrated strategy for human resources to balance the optimal assignment of tasks between the military, defence civilians andthe private sector.
  9. Provide tax-free salary for all Canadian Armed Forces members deployed on all named international operations, up to the maximum rate of pay applied to a Lieutenant-Colonel. This would not impact hardship and risk pay or operational allowances regulated by the Military Foreign Service Instructions (MFSI), which will continue. This initiative is retroactive to January 2017.

Leveraging Canada’s diversity

The Canadian Armed Forces is committed to demonstrating leadership in reflecting Canadian ideals of diversity, respect and inclusion, including striving for gender equality and building a workforce that leverages the diversity of Canadian society. Canada’s unique, diverse and multicultural population is one of its greatest strengths. While positive steps have been made towards greater diversity, inclusion and gender equality, we can do much more to reflect and harness the strength and diversity of the people we serve, in both military and civilian ranks.

We are fully committed to implementing our new comprehensive Diversity Strategy and Action Plan, which will promote an institution-wide culture that embraces diversity and inclusion. This includes reinforcing diversity in the identity of the Canadian Armed Forces and our doctrine, modernizing career management and all policies to support diversity and inclusion, and conducting targeted research to better understand diversity within the Department of National Defence.

Embracing diversity will enhance military operational effectiveness by drawing on all of the strengths of Canada’s population. Building a Defence team composed of people with new perspectives and a broader range of cultural, linguistic, gender, age, and other unique attributes will contribute directly to efforts to develop a deeper understanding of our increasingly complex world, and to respond effectively to the challenges it presents.

Diversity and inclusion initiatives also support many of our objectives for personnel, including providing a positive work place and supporting total health and well-being.

Women in the Canadian Armed Forces:

Currently, 15 percent of Canadian Armed Forces members are women. The NATO average for women in the military is 11 percent. The Canadian Armed Forces is committed to further increasing the representation of women in the military by 1percent annually towards a goal of 25 percent in 10 years. This will not only contribute to positive Canadian Armed Forces culture change, but will also increase overall operational effectiveness.

New initiatives

To fully leverage Canada’s diversity, the Defence team will:

  1. Promote diversity and inclusion as a core institutional value across the Defence team.
  2. Appoint a Diversity Champion who will oversee the implementation of all aspects of the Diversity Strategy and Action plan including instituting mandatory diversity training across all phases of professional development.
  3. Integrate Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) in all defence activities across the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence, from the design and implementation of programs and services that support our personnel, to equipment procurement and operational planning.
  4. Place a new focus on recruiting and retaining under-represented populations within the Canadian Armed Forces, including, but not limited to, women, Indigenous peoples, and members of visible minorities.
  5. Aspire to be a leader in gender balance in the military by increasing the representation of women by 1 percent annually over the next 10 years to reach 25 percent of the overall force.
GBA+ is an analytical tool used to assess the potential impacts of policies, programs, services, and other initiatives on diverse groups of people, taking into account gender and a range of other identity factors. GBA+ is a critical tool in the decision-making process, and recognized as a key competency in support of the development of effective programs and policies for Canadians. It provides federal officials with the means to continually improve their work and attain better results for Canadians by being more responsive to specific needs and circumstances.

The Defence team is fully committed to using GBA+ in the development and execution of defence operations, policies and programs, and used GBA+ as an integral component of the analysis for the development of this new defence policy.

First and foremost, the Defence team will apply GBA+ analysis to the full range of programs and services that recruit, support and care for Canadian Armed Forces personnel. This will be critical to ensure that the Defence team can meet the needs of its diverse and multicultural workforce across Canada.

Training and education are at the core of Defence team’s commitment to GBA+ as a means to advance gender equality in Canada. New programs and training are being instituted at all levels of Defence to ensure these important tools and knowledge are incorporated on a daily basis.

The Defence team will require members to undertake GBA+ training and all military personnel policies will be examined through a GBA+ lens and updated as needed.

The Defence team also recognizes that conflict, natural disasters, and humanitarian crises affect people differently. Accordingly, the Defence team is integrating GBA+ into the planning and execution of operations as a means to both improve operational effectiveness and meet the needs of those who are disproportionately affected by conflict and crisis. This includes the establishment of military gender advisor positions who will advise on gender in operational planning and doctrine, and modeling the value of diversity, inclusion and gender equality when working with other nations. Working to implement and advance the Women, Peace and Security agenda laid out in the United Nations Security Council’s landmark Resolution 1325 and subsequent related resolutions, will be an important aspect of Canada’s international military engagement, including our renewed commitment to United Nations peacekeeping.

Total health and care For our people

The Defence team must ensure that the needs of its people – whether military members and their families, or defence civilians – are appropriately met. They are the heart and soul of everything we do.

For the Canadian Armed Forces, this means military members and their families are well-supported from the moment they join, throughout their careers, and as they transition out of the military. This includes keeping the door open to Veterans who want to return to service, or who later need support and assistance. Not only is this important to build a strong and agile defence organization, but the Canadian Armed Forces also has a fundamental moral obligation to care for those who have accepted unlimited liability in the service of their fellow citizens.

We are committed to providing more flexible, tailored service and support, personalized to the unique circumstances and needs of each member. The needs of members and their families will evolve throughout their careers and so too must the services and support on which they rely. To achieve success, the Government of Canada must be less risk averse in providing care and much more transparent and open in its communication. We will shed one-size fits all solutions in favour of more people-centred, compassionate, dependable and comprehensive services.

This new approach will also favour a more all-inclusive, comprehensive approach to care – known as Total Health and Wellness. This approach considers psychological well-being in the workplace, the physical work environment, and personal health, including physical, mental, spiritual and familial aspects of members’ lives. The well-being of our Canadian Armed Forces’ current and former members and their families relies on health in all of these areas.

To provide appropriate support, care and services to ensure the total health and well-being of Canadian Armed Forces personnel, we will invest $198.2 million over the course of this policy to implement the Total Health and Wellness Strategy. This strategy will expand wellness beyond the traditional health care model to include promotion, prevention, treatment and support, and provide a greater range of health and wellness services and programs. Of note, the strategy includes key initiatives to:

  • support health and resilience;
  • promote a culture of healthy behaviour; and
  • support military families.

The Canadian Armed Forces will also continue to provide a full spectrum of safe, high-quality physical health services through a well-governed health care system that meets or exceeds Canadian standards, both in garrison and during operations.

The mental health and workplace well-being of defence civilians is also critical to the success of the Canadian Armed Forces, given the important roles they play as part of an integrated civilian-military Defence team. Civilians face challenges associated with being defence professionals not present in the rest of the public service and we are committed to providing them with a healthy, supportive workplace and the mental health and other support they require.

Supporting health and resilience

Serving in the Canadian Armed Forces is extremely rewarding but military service places unique demands and stresses on individual members - stresses that can have a profound impact on all aspects of health, from the psychological trauma that can be experienced on deployment to the strain that frequent relocation puts on individuals, families, personal relationships, finances and social networks.

Compared to the Canadian population, military personnel experience higher rates of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Suicide rates over recent years have also shown a worrying upward trend. Suicide usually includes an element of mental illness and other stressors that can be aggravated by the rigours of military service, particularly if appropriate supports and services are not sought or in place.

Mental health and suicide are complex issues that have no easy solutions. However, we are committed to continually improving our approach and providing the best possible care and support. Mental health is a critical aspect of overall health. This includes employing progressive, evidence-based practices and technology and forming cooperative relationships with world-class leaders in mental health to continue to improve care and deepen our knowledge and expertise in this important area. In particular, we must and will do a better job in providing adequate care and treatment for personnel suffering from critical stress response injuries, running the gamut from mild battle stress to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Canadian Armed Forces members also face challenges with Operational Stress Injuries (OSI). This term is used to describe any persistent psychological difficulty resulting from operational duties performed in the Canadian Armed Forces and can include a wide range of problems such as anxiety disorders, depression and PTSD, as well as other conditions that may be less severe but still interfere with daily life. OSIs are complex psychiatric conditions, many of which are not well understood. Recognizing this, the Canadian Armed Forces provides a wide range of programs and services focused on the prevention and treatment of mental health issues, including seven specialized operational trauma and stress support centres across Canada that provide evidence-based medical treatment for OSIs.

The Canadian Armed Forces has come a long way in changing internal attitudes to these injuries, removing the stigma and career stress that once dissuaded some from reporting them. But much more work needs to be done. That includes caring for those currently serving, and those who have served in the past and are now struggling to cope with the demands of civilian life.

Effective support and services will help the Canadian Armed Forces be more resilient in the face of challenges and enhance operational readiness. We are committed to modernizing the Canadian Armed Forces Health System, removing barriers to care including eliminating the stigma associated with getting help, and ensuring all necessary tools are in place to identify and provide appropriate care to those who need it.

New initiatives

To improve the resilience and health of its members, the Canadian Armed Forces will:

  1. Augment the Canadian Armed Forces Health System to ensure it meets the unique needs of our personnel with efficient and effective care, anywhere they serve in Canada or abroad. This includes growing the Medical Services Branch by 200 personnel.
  2. Implement a joint National Defence and Veterans Affairs Suicide Prevention Strategy that hires additional mental health professionals and implements a joint framework focused on preventing suicide across the entire military and Veteran community.
  3. Remove barriers to care, including creating an environment free from stigma where military members are encouraged to raise health concerns of any nature and seek appropriate help when they need it.

Promoting a culture of leadership, respect and honour

The Canadian Armed Forces is fully committed to providing a workplace free from harassment and discrimination. In addition to a range of gender, diversity and inclusion initiatives and the Total Health and Wellness Strategy, we will continue to fully implement the recommendations of the Deschamps Report on sexual misconduct in the military, in addition to continuing defence ethics and leadership programs, and other initiatives related to inclusivity, diversity and respect.

The progress achieved to date in meeting the recommendations of the Deschamps Report is a clear demonstration of the Canadian Armed Forces’ commitment to eliminating and preventing harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour and sexual offences within our ranks. This began with the unequivocal acknowledgement by senior military leadership that inappropriate sexual behaviour is a serious and unacceptable problem that exists in the Canadian Armed Forces. This policy affirms our commitment to work towards solutions that result in positive and enduring culture change.

Positive culture change requires a commitment to promoting the respect of all members as equal contributors to the Canadian Armed Forces community. Until this culture change is fully realized, the first priority will remain on taking better care of victims and survivors with responsive, individualized support. The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre has been established as the first-ever dedicated independent support centre for Canadian Armed Forces members and provides victims with options to reach out for information and support in a confidential manner. Resources across the Canadian Armed Forces – from health services, to chaplains, to the Ombudsman and senior leadership, as well as military police and the military justice system – have also been enhanced and more improvements are forthcoming.

To ensure that results are achieved, monitoring and measuring mechanisms have been put in place. The Defence team is providing regular updates on its progress in addressing this important issue. Adjustments will be made as necessary to ensure that a positive culture change is achieved.

Enhanced investigation and prosecution of sexual offences

The Canadian Armed Forces is committed to improving the way it investigates and prosecutes sexual offences and has implemented a number of initiatives towards this end, including:

  • the creation of Military Police Sexual Offence Response Teams. Members of these teams receive specialized training in investigating crimes of a sexual nature including the latest forensic and interviewing techniques;
  • broader training to Military Police to help meet the needs of victims and survivors while also collecting the necessary evidence;
  • measures to ensure that sensitive information collected during investigations is protected from unnecessary disclosure so that victims and survivors have the confidence to come forward;
  • new direction from the Director of Military Prosecutions to military prosecutors to help minimize the trauma to victims and survivors during court proceedings and to ensure they are treated with the appropriate sensitivity; and
  • ongoing training for military prosecutors to enhance the prosecution of sexual offences in line with leading best practices.

The Canadian Armed Forces is committed to effectively investigating and prosecuting these serious crimes and will continue to explore further initiatives to enhance its ability to support victims and survivors and bring perpetrators to justice.

Operation HONOUR: Institutionalized culture change

In March 2015, Justice Marie Deschamps released the findings of her external review of Canadian Armed Forces policies, procedures, and programs in relation to sexual harassment and sexual assault, including the effectiveness with which these policies are currently being implemented. Her report included 10 recommendations to drive a culture change in the Canadian Armed Forces and address the situation. These recommendations were accepted in full by the Chief of the Defence Staff and their implementation has been institutionalized across the Defence team under Operation HONOUR.

Operation HONOUR is the Canadian Armed Forces mission to eliminate harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour in the Canadian military that is based on the principles that:

  • every woman and man who serves their country deserves to be treated with dignity and respect – anything less is simply unacceptable; and
  • any attitudes or behaviours that undermine the camaraderie, cohesion and confidence of serving members threatens the Canadian Armed Forces’ long-term operational success.

Operation HONOUR seeks to effect a positive institutional culture change in the Canadian Armed Forces through four lines of effort:

  • understanding the issue of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour;
  • responding more decisively to incidents;
  • supporting victims more effectively; and
  • preventing incidents from occurring.

New initiatives

To eliminate harmful behaviours and ensure a work environment free from harassment and discrimination, the Defence team will:

  1. Complete the full implementation of the 10 recommendations of the Deschamps Report through Operation HONOUR.
  2. Provide a full range of victim and survivor support services to Canadian Armed Forces members.
  3. Deal with harassment complaints in a clear and timely manner by simplifying formal harassment complaint procedures.
  4. Be open and transparent with Canadians and members of the Canadian Armed Forces in communicating progress on this important issue.

Supporting military families

Military families are the strength behind the uniform. Family members of Canadian Armed Forces personnel share in the stresses and strains resulting from deployments of their loved ones into dangerous operational duty, and the prolonged separations they entail. They also make important sacrifices and face challenges associated with frequent relocation such as finding new family health care providers, re-establishing childcare, moving children between schools and education systems, professional licensing, and dealing with inconveniences such as changing drivers’ and vehicles licences when moving between provinces. They must also deal with the financial instability resulting from frequent moves, whether it be the loss of employment, different tax systems or changes to post-living differentials.

Families are the major source of support and strength to Canadian Armed Forces members and integral to our military success. Military families make an incredible contribution to the operational effectiveness of the Forces and must have access to the support and services they deserve, to cope with the unique challenges and stresses of military family life. The implementation of a Comprehensive Military Family Plan will go a long way to minimizing the disruptions associated with frequent relocation.

The Canadian Armed Forces is committed to enhancing the support we provide to the families of military members, including through the front-line service provided by Military Family Resource Centres.

New initiatives

To improve support and services offered for military family members, the Defence team will:

  1. Implement teams at Wings and Bases across Canada, in partnership with Military Family Resource Centres, to prevent and respond to gender-based violence
  2. Improve access to psychological services through social workers and referrals to community programs and services.
  3. Develop a Comprehensive Military Family Plan to help stabilize family life for Canadian Armed Forces members and their families who frequently have to relocate. This includes:
    • Providing an additional $6 million per year to modernize Military Family Support Programs, such as Military Family Resource Centres, to provide better support to families when members are deploying or during periods of absence;
    • Establishing relocation expertise to help military families find and access the services they need in a new community; and
    • Working with federal, provincial and private sector partners to improve the coordination of services across provinces to ease the burden of moving.

Reinventing transition

Life as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces is a process of continuous transition, from the moment a person steps into a recruitment centre to the day they take off the uniform, and beyond. Through their careers, military members will take on different jobs, get posted to various bases across the country, participate in training exercises, and deploy on operations at home and abroad. Putting service before self – the ethos of the Canadian Armed Forces – involves frequent life changes, which can place significant stress on our members and their families. These stresses are particularly acute for those who suffer illness or injury that prevents them getting back to active duty. That is why, when it comes to the transition out of uniform, we need to work with Veterans Affairs Canada to provide the best possible care and support to our military personnel.

While recruits receive a lot of personalized attention as they train and develop into sailors, soldiers, and airwomen and men, the same approach does not exist for members leaving the military. This defence policy is correcting this not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because caring for our own is critical to ensuring that we can attract and retain Canada’s best and brightest.

This policy reinvents the way we approach transition. It ensures that members receive the professional, customized, and personalized support they need as they transition to post-military life. This will ease their adjustment, and help them continue to live productive, meaningful lives.

To deliver dedicated professional and personalized support to all Canadian Armed Forces members, including those in transition, the Canadian Armed Forces will re-establish a Personnel Administration Branch of experts in military human resources management. A new Canadian Armed Forces Transition Group, commanded by a General Officer, will be established. All military personnel will use the services of this group, where the professional staff will ensure that all pre-release and pension administration is completed, and benefits are in place, before the transition to post-military life. This group will also make sure that retired members are aware of and/or enrolled in career transition programs offered by the Defence team and Veterans Affairs Canada as well as third-party service providers, such as vocational rehabilitation, individual career counselling, job search placement, and financial literacy.

All retiring members require transition support, but the needs are most acute for our ill and injured. The Canadian Armed Forces Transition Group will look after ill and injured personnel with the goal of returning them to active duty. For those who cannot continue wearing the uniform, the Transition Group will provide personalized, guided support centred on the unique situation and needs of individual members. This is critical to the well-being of our personnel.

As we work to help those who are leaving military life, we are fully committed to collaborating with Veterans Affairs Canada to close any remaining gaps between the support and services offered by our respective organizations to ensure our members continue to receive the uninterrupted care and attention they need and deserve. Leaving the Canadian Armed Forces is a major life change and can be stressful for members and their loved ones. Working with the members and their families, the professional staff of the Canadian Armed Forces Transition Group will ensure they are ready for the changes ahead of them.

New initiatives

To better meet the needs of all retiring personnel, including the ill and injured, the Defence team will:

  1. Establish a Personnel Administration Branch of experts in military human resources and personnel administration to focus and improve military human resource services to all Canadian Armed Forces members.
  2. Allocate some of the growth in the Medical Services Branch to support transition care.
  3. Create a new Canadian Armed Forces Transition Group that provides support to all members to seamlessly transition to post-military life. This Group, commanded by a General Officer and staffed from experts in human resources and personnel administration, will be approximately 1,200 personnel strong and include specialized staff and holding positions for ill and injured who are preparing to return to duty or transition out of the Canadian Armed Forces. The Group will provide a fully engaged, personalized, guided support to transition all Canadian Armed Forces members, with special care and attention being provided to those who are ill or injured, including those with psychological or critical stress injuries.
  4. Ensure that all benefits will be in place before a member transitions to post-military life.

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