Response to parliamentary committees and external audits

Response to Parliamentary Committees

House Standing Committee on National Defence

On April 9, 2019, the House Standing Committee on National Defence released its 14th report: Responding to Russian Aggression Against Ukraine, Moldova and Georgian in the Black Sea Region. The report was written following meetings and interviews with a delegation of Ukrainian parliamentarians (Jun 2018), with experts from the Atlantic Council (Nov 2018), and with the Ambassadors of Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine (Dec 2018). During those meetings, the Committee received updates on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and issues relating to Russian aggression against both Ukraine and neighboring states in the Black Sea region, such as Georgia and Moldova. As a result, the Committee made 13 recommendations to the Government of Canada. The Government Response to this report was presented to the House of Commons on April 9, 2019. In its response, the Government noted that the Committee’s recommendations were largely consistent with Canada’s approach, highlighting the work currently underway by the Government in support of Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia to enhance bilateral relations, defence, and security. Specifically, the response underscored the Government’s support to Ukraine through Operation UNIFIER. It also agreed on the importance of bolstering defence cooperation and participating in defence activities with all three countries, while acknowledging that Canada’s bilateral defence relationships with both Moldova and Georgia remain modest.

On April 5, 2019, the House Standing Committee on National Defence released its 15th report: Canada’s Task Force Mali. As part of the Committee’s then ongoing study on Canada’s contributions to international peace operations, several Committee members travelled to Senegal and Mali. The report focused on the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization in Mali’s (MINUSMA) mission writ large, Canada’s one-year contribution to the mission, the challenges Canada faced in its transition to Romania, and how to manage and reduce the resulting capability gap. As a result, the Committee made five recommendations to the Government of Canada. The Committee’s first recommended that the Government of Canada adhere to the one-year withdrawal deadline of 31 July for Operation Presence. The subsequent four related to ensuring a smooth transition and withdrawal of Canadian troops in Mali. The Government Response to this report was presented to the House of Commons on June 27, 2019. The response highlighted National Defence’s multiple lines of effort regarding Task Force Mali, noting its sustained work to ensure a smooth transition with Romania and its eventual withdrawal from MINUSMA. The response agreed with the first recommendation, while underscoring the mitigating measures put in place to implement a responsible withdrawal, including: maintaining the medical component of the mission for a month following the gradual reduction of Canadian operations on July 31, working closely with the Romanian Armed Forces to accelerate their arrival, and working closely with the UN to minimize the operational impact of the transition on MINUSMA. The response also agreed with all four subsequent recommendations made by the Committee.

House Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development

On April 10, 2019, the House Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development released its 24th report: Nation-Building at Home, Vigilance Beyond: Preparing for the Coming Decades in the Arctic. The Committee studied Canada’s Arctic sovereignty in a changing Arctic, addressing issues such as geopolitics, international law, and international security. As a result, the Committee made 28 recommendations related to five key areas: Meaningful Partnerships with Indigenous Peoples and Northern Communities; Defence, Security and Stewardship; Geopolitics; Circumpolar Diplomacy and Indigenous Rights; and Climate Change, Science and Knowledge. The Government Response to this report was presented to the House of Commons on July 17, 2019. The response underscored that the majority of the recommendations are aligned with work being undertaken by the Government to continue or increase its presence in the Canadian Arctic in all five areas highlighted in the recommendations. Eight recommendations were related to National Defence issues and focused on: investing in defence infrastructure; setting a time-bound goal to complete the mapping of frequently used marine corridors; investing in new technology that can improve its awareness of sub-surface activity approach in the Arctic; reviewing search and rescue needs on an ongoing basis; exploring the possibility of training Rangers in the use of drones; allocating long-term funding to replace the North Warning System and work closely with the US towards NORAD modernization; reviewing the forward operating locations used by Canada’s fighter jets; and reviewing the Remote Sensing Systems Space Act. National Defence agreed with four recommendations, specifically relating to defence infrastructure, investing in new technology, working with the US on modernizing NORAD, and reviewing its operating locations to ensure they meet the requirements to defend against threats to the continent. Further, the Government highlighted its commitment to regularly assessing its operational search and rescue capabilities across the country, and increasing capacity to better administer the Remote Sensing Space Systems Act. Finally, the Government stressed unique challenges associated with hydrography and took to recommendation on Canadian Rangers’ drone training into consideration.

House Standing Committee on Public AccountsFootnote 1 

On March 22, 2019, the House Standing Committee on Public Accounts released its 61st report: Report 5, Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour – Canadian Armed Forces, of the 2018 Fall Reports of the Auditor General of Canada. The report studied the Canadian Armed Forces response to inappropriate sexual behaviour. Specifically, the report focussed on the implementation of Operation HONOUR, victim support, and training and education for the prevention of inappropriate sexual behaviour. As a result, the Committee made seven recommendations to the Government of Canada. The Government Response to this report was presented to the House of Commons on June 20, 2019. In its response, the Government provided an update on specific efforts to eradicate sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces, such as revised roles and responsibilities for the Sexual Misconduct Response Center, the development of an integrated national plan to support victims, the development and implementation of comprehensive case management services, the development of a new approach to the duty to report, and reviews of the content of education and training to ensure its relevance and effectiveness.

On March 22, 2019, the House Standing Committee on Public Accounts released its 60th report: Report 3, Canada’s Fighter Force – National Defence, of the 2018 Fall Reports of the Auditor General of Canada.

The report focused on the recruitment and retention strategies for fighter force technicians and pilots, progress made on assessing combat-capability upgrades, and extending the life of the CF-18 fighter aircraft. As a result, the Committee made two recommendations to the Government of Canada. The Government Response to this report was presented to the House of Commons on June 20, 2019. In its response, the Government agreed with both recommendations and provided a progress update on its work related to the transfer of technicians to frontline squadrons, recruitment and retention strategies, increasing the fighter force, and training efforts. National Defence’s response also highlighted plans to seek approval on regulatory and interoperability upgrades to continue flying the CF-18 until 2032. In addition, the Department stated that the Royal Canadian Air Force is conducting an analysis of required combat system upgrades. The Management Action Plan provided further information on the timelines for these commitments.

On December 6, 2018, the House Standing Committee on Public Accounts released its 56th report: Report 3, Administration of Justice in the Canadian Armed Forces, of the 2018 Spring Reports of the Auditor General of Canada. The Committee studied both the effectiveness and the challenges facing the administration of Justice in the Canadian Armed Forces. The report highlighted that issues such as delays throughout the various stages of the military justice process, the lack of time standards for every phase of the military justice system, and poor communication compromised the timely and efficient resolution of military justice cases. As a result, the Committee made nine recommendations to help improve Canada’s military justice system. The Government Response to this report was presented to the House of Commons on April 5, 2019. In its response, the Government agreed with all nine recommendations and highlighted measures to improve administration and oversight of the military justice system, such as the development and introduction of the Justice Administration and Information System (JAIMS), an internal review of time standards, improved communications among key actors of the military justice system, and the development of a military justice performance measurement framework.

House Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs

On February 8, 2019, the House Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs released its 11th report: Indigenous Veterans: From Memories of Injustice to Lasting Recognition. The Committee studied the participation of Indigenous Veterans in past major conflicts and the injustices they have faced, the current participation rate of Indigenous Peoples in the Canadian Armed Forces, and the challenges faced by Indigenous Veterans today. The report discussed the specific cultural elements that Veterans Affairs Canada must consider when offering programs and services tailored to Indigenous Veterans and outlined issues that Veterans Affairs Canada should examine more closely in the years ahead. As a result, the Committee made thirteen recommendations to the government of Canada. The Government Response to this report was presented to the House of Commons on May 30, 2019. In its response, the Government agreed with a majority of the recommendations, highlighting its ongoing work and commitment to supporting Indigenous Veterans and highlighting their contributions as service members in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Senate Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans

On November, 2018, the Senate Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans released its 11th report: When Every Minute Counts – Maritime Search and Rescue. The Committee conducted a literature review to identify recurring challenges in maritime Search and Rescue, held public hearings in Ottawa, Halifax, and St. John’s, and conducted site visits in several regions across the country to obtain local perspectives on maritime Search and Rescue. The Committee also conducted site visits to England, Ireland, Norway, and Denmark, and examined maritime Search and Rescue programs in Australia and New Zealand. As a result, the Committee made 17 recommendations to the Government of Canada, a majority of them related to work undertaken by the Coast Guard and Transport Canada. Two recommendations touched on issues related to National Defence: diversifying its Search and Rescue workforce, and beginning a pilot project authorizing a civilian helicopter operator to provide aeronautical Search and Rescue coverage. The Government Response to this report was presented to the Senate on May 02, 2019. In its response, the Government agreed to a majority of the recommendations. National Defence agreed in principle with the first recommendation, highlighting its commitment to diversify the Canadian Armed Forces and integrate Gender-Based Analysis perspectives into policy, projects, and programs. Regarding its second recommendation, National Defence stated that it was not considering this type of pilot project at this time, highlighting that the Canadian Armed Forces rely on specialized equipment and highly trained personnel.

Response to External Audits

Response to audits conducted by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada (including audits conducted by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development)

Although a number of Office of the Auditor General (including the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development) audits were underway in National Defence during FY 2019-20, none were tabled during this time period for several reasons, including the fall 2019 Federal Election. As a result there were no National Defence responses to Office of the Auditor General recommendations required ‎during this time period.

Response to audits conducted by the Public Service Commission of Canada or the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Public Service Commission of Canada (PSC):

Horizontal Audit of Credential Validation

During FY 2019-20, the PSC completed a Horizontal Audit of Credential Validation. The audit examined a representative sample of 278 external appointments made between April 1, 2015, and March 31, 2016, across 15 departments and agencies, and across 20 occupations with responsibilities related to the health, safety or security of Canadians. The audit focussed on occupational groups where the nature of the education or certification requirements are directly linked to the job specialization. These groups included nurses, doctors, engineers, dentists, pilots and air traffic controllers.The audit had two objectives: to identify the prevalence of instances where credentials could not be validated with academic institutions or professional associations; and, to identify credential validation practices for appointments and determine whether additional guidance or support is needed when establishing an appropriate credential validation approach. There was one recommendation in the audit addressed to the PSC, in collaboration with the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. There were no recommendations for the Department of National Defence.

Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages (OCOL)

There were no audits in FY 2019-20 involving National Defence.

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