Section IV - Office of the Ombudsman - DPR - 2011-12

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Office of the Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces

The Ombudsman's office contributes to substantial, long-lasting change in the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Forces (CF). Independent of the military chain of command and civilian management, the Ombudsman reports directly to the Minister of National Defence (MND) and helps to ensure fair and equitable treatment for all members of Canada's Defence community.

The office is a direct source of information, referral and education for Defence employees, Canadian Forces members and their families. It helps individuals access channels of assistance or redress when they have a complaint. The office also investigates complaints and serves as a neutral third party on matters related to the Department and the Canadian Forces and, when necessary, reports publicly on these issues.

More broadly, the Ombudsman has a mandate to investigate and make recommendations to improve the overall well-being and quality of life of the members of the Defence community. Investigations from the office have produced significant improvements in the CF, including important changes in the areas of post-traumatic stress disorder and operational stress injuries.

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2011-12, the office handled 1,913 cases from CF members, civilian employees, military family members and other constituents related to benefits, release from military service, medical issues, recruiting, military postings, redress of grievance, harassment, the Reserve Force pension plan, civilian classification grievances and other issues.

The Ombudsman's office also received a number of complaints related to financial losses when CF members are posted and have to sell their homes in certain areas of the country. After reviewing all of the complaints, the office identified serious concerns with the Home Equity Assistance policy within the CF Integrated Relocation Program.

Over the past FY, the Ombudsman's office also initiated and continued to work on a number of broader investigations. For example, in 2011, the Ombudsman launched a third follow-up investigation into the issue of post-traumatic stress disorder and other operational stress injuries in the CF. The investigation will determine the status of the nine recommendations contained in the 2008 report, entitled A Long Road to Recovery: Battling Operational Stress Injuries, and the seven recommendations included in the companion report, The State of Mental Health Services at CFB Petawawa.

In early 2012, the Ombudsman's office also began a follow-up investigation to assess the status of the recommendations made in the office's 2008 special report entitled Reserved Care: An Investigation into the Treatment of Injured Reservists. The follow-up investigation will assess the status of the report's 12 recommendations and determine if the situation has improved for Canada's injured Reservists.

In March 2012, the Ombudsman announced that the office would be undertaking a comprehensive review of the issues and challenges facing Canada's military families across the country. As part of its review, the office is looking at whether the Canadian Forces have the appropriate policies, programs and resources in place to properly care for Canada's military families. The office is also interested in working with provincial ombudsmen from across the country in order to look at best practices and see if some collective recommendations can be put in place to improve the quality of life of Canada's military families. Finally, the office will also be talking to military families and looking at the care and treatment they have received throughout their experience with the Canadian Forces – from the time their loved ones joined the military, to the initial and ongoing training periods, to the various postings, to the operational deployments, and to when they decide to leave the Defence community.

Financial Resources
Financial resources
($ thousands)
Actual Spending 2009-10 Actual Spending 2010-11 Planned Spending 2011-12 Total Authorities 2011-12 Actual Spending 2011-12
Vote 1 - Salary and Personnel 4,293 4,006 4,773 3,666 3,666
Vote 1 - Operating and Maintenance 777 603 1,386 672 671
Sub-total Vote 1 5,070 4,609 6,159 4,338 4,337
Vote 5 - Capital 192
Grand total 5,070 4,609 6,351 4,338 4,337

Source: Office of the Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces and Assistant Deputy Minister (Finance and Corporate Services) Group.

Due to rounding, figures may not add up to totals shown.

Human Resources
Actual
2009-10
Actual
2010-11
Planned
2011-12
Actual
2011-12
Regular Force N/A N/A N/A N/A
Civilian FTEs 58 58.5 54 54
Primary Reserve Strength (Class B) N/A N/A N/A N/A
On-site professional services contractors N/A N/A N/A N/A
TOTAL 58 58.5 54 54

Source: Office of the Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces

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