Recruitment, Retention, Reconstitution

  • National Defence is prioritizing efforts to enact meaningful culture change, to grow the Canadian Armed Forces, and to ensure that our forces reflect Canada’s diversity. 
  • I am pleased to report that we will launch a new retention strategy in 2022 to retain members, including from underrepresented groups. 
  • This will be complemented by efforts to maximize the staffing of recruiting centres and training schools, while redesigning basic training with a focus on professional values, resilience, and military skills to build more inclusive teams. 
  • Additionally, National Defence is reviewing its training at every level to ensure we remain ready to excel at operations at home and abroad. 
  • Through these efforts, we will create a more diverse, modern, and agile Canadian Armed Forces that will attract talented Canadians for years to come. 

If pressed on recruitment and retention of women:

  • Military service places unique demands on families and women, which is why we recently announced new options for compassionate family-related leave, as well as measures to enhance women’s health and health care.
  • We are also conducting focused engagement activities with communities across Canada to increase enrolment of women in the Defence Team. 
  • Additionally, we are prioritizing women applicants for all CAF enrolment programs, including at military colleges. 
  • We have also made our ranks more inclusive: French versions of all ranks now have official Gender Inclusive equivalents, so that members can be addressed in a way that they feel best represents their gender identity. 

If pressed on privatization: 

  • Strategically partnering with the private sector enables our National Defence personnel to focus on their core functions.
  • National Defence takes all possible measures to ensure the health and safety of all employees and contractors. 
  • National Defence will continue to consult public sector unions on partnerships with the private sector. 

If pressed on relevancy of vaccination requirements:

  • The COVID vaccine has served to limit viral transmission, and has also been highly effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths among those who have received their full primary series (defined as a first and second dose of COVID-19 vaccine).
  • As a result of the high CAF vaccine uptake, very few members have been hospitalized and operational capability has been maintained throughout the pandemic.

Key Facts

  • In 2021-2022 (as of March 8, 2022) 6,891 individuals joined the Regular Force and Primary Reserve, 15.98% of whom were women. 
    • 2020-2021 intake: 4,262 individuals. 
    • 2019-2020 intake: 10,270 individuals. 
  • The Canadian Armed Forces’ Regular Force needs ~6,600 Regular Force members to meet the operational readiness target. 
  • ~ 6,300 persons per year must be recruited and trained to account for annual attrition forecast. 
  • Canadian Armed Forces Employment Equity Plan 2021-2026 recognizes the LGBTQ2+ community as a designated group. 
  • New promotion and selection process: National GO/FO selection boards now feature procedural improvements including mandating that one voting member be from an Employment Equity group. 
  • Ongoing recruitment initiatives: 
    • Targeted engagement with communities across Canada to increase representation of under-represented groups. 
    • Programs to increase Indigenous representation. 
    • Prioritizing women applicants at military colleges and all CAF enrolment programs. 
  • Indigenous representation: 
    • Goal: 3.5% by 2026 
    • Current: 2.7% (as of March 4, 2022) 
    • The Canadian Armed Forces is making efforts to increase Indigenous participation in the military through the Canadian Armed Forces Aboriginal Entry Program, which provides three weeks of hands-on military training and lifestyle experiences. 
    • The Canadian Armed Forces offers five Indigenous Summer Training programs nation-wide, which combine military skills training and Indigenous cultural teachings. 
    • The Canadian Armed Forces offers an Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year, which is open to Indigenous peoples across Canada. It involves an academic year in a university environment, for educational and leadership experience at Royal Military College (RMC) Kingston. 
  • Canadian Armed Forces vaccination rates (among Regular Force and eligible Reserve Force): 
    • 97% have received at least one dose 
    • 96% have received at least two doses 
    • 64% have received all three doses (full primary series + booster) 
  • The Canadian Armed Forces currently has a 98% vaccination rate. 
    • To date (19 April 2022), 114 members have been released from the Canadian Armed Forces for non-compliance with a further 373 in the process of being finalized. 
    • 97 Regular Force members have been approved to release voluntarily with the main reason attributed to vaccination requirements.

Culture Change and Sexual Misconduct

  • One of my top priorities as Chief of the Defence Staff is to foster a healthy, inclusive, and respectful workplace where everyone is treated with dignity and respect. 
  • To help National Defence advance this work, Budget 2022 recently announced $73.4M in funding over the next six years, and $14.8M ongoing, for personnel, culture change, and inclusivity initiatives. 
  • This funding will help National Defence advance key initiatives that are critical to enact meaningful culture change, support our personnel, and promote trust and inclusivity in our institution. 
  • These initiatives include strengthening leadership in the Canadian Armed Forces, entrenching ongoing engagement and consultation on culture change, and enhancing restorative approaches to harm and misconduct, such as coaching services. 
  • In addition, the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre is continuing to expand its services, and will further develop programs and improve processes to meet the needs of those affected by sexual misconduct. 

If pressed on additional initiatives

  • We will also be publishing a revised military ethos called Trusted to Serve, which will focus on emphasizing character as a vital consideration when choosing future leaders.
  • In addition, we are updating our dress instructions to be gender-inclusive to allow our members to represent their authentic selves while in uniform, while adhering to the core mandate of safety and operational readiness.
  • We are also incorporating and measuring inclusive behaviours through the respective performance management processes for military members and public service employees.
  • We attracted more than 9,000 personnel located across Canada through our Defence Team Conduct and Culture Consultation and we are reflecting their lived experiences and suggestions in our priorities and approach.

Key Facts

  • The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC) offers the following services to Canadian Armed Forces members, Department of National Defence public servants, and former Canadian Armed Forces members: 
    • A 24/7 support line where clients can receive bilingual and confidential support, information, and referrals from public service counsellors. 
    • The Response and Support Coordination program which provides ongoing support, accompaniment, advocacy, and personalized case management services by Response and Support coordinators. 
  • The 24/7 support line and Response and Support Coordination program have been expanded as follows: 
    • Hiring additional counsellors to manage the expected increase in calls to the 24/7 support line; 
    • Expanding the footprint, including hiring of new staff, of the Response and Support Coordination program to five regions across Canada. Services have already been expanded to Quebec and the Pacific, with Ontario, Atlantic, and Prairies to follow. 
  • The SMRC’s toll-free support line number is 1-844-750-1648
  • In fiscal year 2021-2022, 1,558 total contacts were made to the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre. 
  • Former Supreme Court Justice Arbour: Currently conducting an independent external comprehensive review of National Defence to identify the causes for the continued presence of harassment and sexual misconduct within the organization. 
    • Justice Arbour provided interim recommendations to National Defence on October 20, 2021. 
    • Building on recommendations 68 of the Justice Fish report, Justice Arbour recommends that “all sexual assaults and other criminal 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.” 
    • The final Arbour report is expected to be delivered to National Defence on May 20, 2022. 
  • Bill C-77 has been implemented with a Coming into Force date of June 20, 2022.  

Health Resources and Services for CAF Women

  • We recognize that women in the Canadian Armed Forces have unique health needs and that tailored resources and services must be available to support their health and well-being. 
  • That is why Budget 2022 recently announced $144.3 million over five years, and $31.6 million ongoing, to expand the Canadian Armed Forces’ health services and physical fitness programs to be more responsive to women and gender-diverse members. 
  • We are also taking concrete steps to make our health resources and services more inclusive for women right now. 

Examples of Health Resources and Services 

  • Women members often face challenges related to accessible and private spaces to pump breast milk. 
  • For this reason, we are making private lactation spaces available for members who wish to pump or nurse while on duty. 
  • Additionally, to ensure that pregnant members have uniforms in which they can comfortably and safely perform their duties, we have implemented a new reimbursement program for maternity and nursing uniform shirts. 
  • New types of compassionate leave also enable members to take leave for situations of pregnancy or adoption loss, as well as family violence. 
  • We are committed to continue working with our women members to identify the gaps and needs in our current health care system, and take action to address them. 

If Pressed on Total Health and Wellness Strategy: 

  • In keeping with these important initiatives, the Total Health and Wellness Strategy, released on March 4, 2022, includes a Women’s Health Framework for the first time. 
  • This Framework enhances access to care and services, and helps educate all Canadian Armed Forces members on women’s health care in the military context. 
  • This includes ensuring operational planning takes into consideration the health needs of women while on deployment.

Key Facts

  • The Total Health and Wellness Strategy brings together and builds upon existing health and wellness strategies, programs, and services, and lays the foundation for a more comprehensive approach to health and well-being that takes into account factors both inside and outside the workplace. 
  • National Defence has begun work to establish the Women’s Health / Health Care for Diversity Core Team, which will advance health care initiatives for women and gender diverse members. 
  • The Women’s Health Framework involves four lines of effort: 
    • Health care; 
    • Illness and injury prevention; 
    • Research and engagement; and, 
    • Quality and performance assessment. 
  • The Women’s Health Framework aims to provide: 
    • Enhanced access to care and services informed by best practices related to women’s health care; 
    • Research dedicated to women’s general health, well-being and performance and how these are influenced by military occupations and demands; 
    • A robust quality and performance measurement process to monitor the results of these initiatives; and, 
    • Mission-specific health service support considerations, including treatment options.

Mental Health and Suicide

  • National Defence offers a wide range of programs and services to meet the needs of our members, including in-house mental health clinics and referral options to over 4,000 mental health care providers. 
  • This includes dedicated specialist mental health professionals at 31 of 37 Canadian Armed Forces Health Services Centres, a 24/7 phone referral service for access to counselling, and peer support for those coping with operational stress. 
  • The Canadian Armed Forces Chaplain Service also provides personal support and can refer members to social workers, psychologists, or other medical services. 
  • The Road to Mental Readiness Program has also expanded programming for specific high risk occupations such as search and rescue technicians and health services personnel. 
  • In addition, civilian members of National Defence have 24/7 access to the Employee Assistance Program, including crisis and suicide intervention. 
  • We are committed to ensuring our military personnel and civilian employees have access to the robust, high quality mental health care and services they need and deserve. 

If pressed on suicide prevention: 

  • We recognize the lasting and tragic effect that the loss of a military member to suicide has on their families, friends, colleagues, and the entire Defence Team. 
  • The Canadian Armed Forces Suicide Prevention Action Plan is centred on training and support programs and services. 
  • These programs and services are aimed at promoting resilience through spirituality, physical fitness, financial support, counselling, awareness, and specific services for deployed personnel.

Key Facts

  • 31 out of 37 Canadian Armed Forces healthcare clinics offer specialized in-house mental health care.
    • All 37 clinics have continued providing primary care and other clinical services during the pandemic. 
  • 7 Operational Trauma and Stress Support Centres: Provide assistance to serving members and their families dealing with stress or injury arising from military operations. 
  • Canadian Forces Health Services recently hired a psychologist who is dedicated to suicide prevention
  • Mental health readiness training is now a consistent part of a military member’s career, including during Basic Training. 
  • The number for the Canadian Armed Forces Member Assistance Program is 1-800-268-7708
  • This program is a 24/7 bilingual telephone and face-to-face service that is voluntary, confidential, and available to CAF members and their families who have personal concerns that affect their well-being and/or work performance. 


  • In 2020, there were 14 deaths by suicide in the Regular Force, and 2 in the Reserve Force. 
    • 2019: 17 deaths by suicide in the Regular Force, and 3 in the Reserve Force 
  • The collection and analysis of the 2021 suicide numbers is being finalized and will be available in the Annual Suicide Mortality later this year.

Cost of Living Challenges

  • We recognize the personal toll the pandemic has taken on all Canadians, including Canadian Armed Forces members. 
  • Challenges of affordable housing, the rising cost of living, labour shortages, supply chain turbulence, and the intense operational tempo of recent years have compounded these challenges for our members. 
  • That is why we have taken action to increase support for our members and reduce stress on them and their families. 
  • For example, we delivered an interim policy to enable remote work options, and expanded the active posting season across five months to create flexibility for families. 
  • Consistent with the Canadian Armed Forces Relocation Directive, we also reimbursed all actual and reasonable relocation expenses arising from COVID-19. 
  • Additionally, the Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services provides resources to help our members and their families navigate postings, such as finding child care, health care and children’s education. 

If Pressed on Compensation:

  • We also continually monitor and review the Canadian Armed Forces benefits and pay rates to help ensure all members are well compensated for their service to Canada. 
  • In February 2021, the Government increased military members’ rates of pay to ensure alignment with increases received by the Federal Public Service. 
  • This pay increase applies to general service officers at the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and below and will help ensure the attraction and retention of the highest standard of personnel. 

If Pressed on Updating the Post Living Differential:

  • We are committed to ensuring that CAF members and their families are not adversely impacted when posted to a location where costs of living may be higher than at their previous location. 
  • National Defence continues to work with Treasury Board to review the design of the Post Living Differential benefit to address the needs of CAF members. 

Key Facts

Compensation and benefits include:

  • Post Living Differential (cost-of-living allowance for locations where the cost of living is above the national average);
  • Environmental Allowances for austere working conditions;
  • Maternity/Paternity Parental Top-Up (to 93% of income for 12 months);
  • Family medical and dental insurance coverage (Public Service Programs);
  • Canadian Armed Forces members have access to Military Housing in many posting locations.
    • National Defence maintains and operates over 11,000 residential housing units at 27 locations.

Bilingualism in the CAF

  • Bilingualism is a cornerstone of our national identity and heritage, and it is an asset that makes the Defence Team stronger and the Canadian Armed Forces more operationally effective. 
  • Promoting the use of both official languages and facilitating access to second language training helps foster a more diverse and inclusive military culture, reflecting Canada’s own diversity. 
  • That is why National Defence continues to foster the use of both official languages in our daily operations, including by providing French and English training to Canadian Armed Forces members through programs and services across Canada. 
  • Every year, our bilingual facilities, military colleges, and national training establishments, offer training in both official languages on academics, military leadership and physical fitness. 
  • We also provide services in both languages to members and their families to facilitate access and to support their well-being as they progress throughout their career across Canada and abroad. 
  • Ensuring that our leaders have the ability to communicate with their team members in French and English promotes an environment where members can communicate, participate, and contribute to their full potential in the language of their choice.

Key Facts

  • Total bilingual Canadian Armed Forces organisations/units: 436. 
    • This includes 180 bilingual organisations/units in unilingual regions. 
  • 2015: National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces published the Official Languages Strategy and in 2017, the Official Languages Action Plan. 
  • National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces members deliver bilingual services to the Canadian public through its search and rescue coordination centres, public affairs offices and recruiting centres.

Hateful Conduct, Discrimination, and Racism

  • There is no place on the Defence Team for hateful conduct, racism, or discrimination. 
  • That is why we are taking concrete action across the Defence Enterprise to root out harmful behaviour that is incompatible with our ethics and values, and undermines the organization’s operational effectiveness. 
  • This includes soon publishing the new ethos Trusted to Serve, which will better outline the professional expectations for our members. 
  • In addition, the Commanders of the Canadian Army, Navy, and Air Force have issued specific hateful conduct orders that provide direction on how to prevent, detect, and respond to hateful conduct within the ranks. 
  • We have also developed a tracking system to ensure the Defence Team has the capability to identify and track any suspected incidents. 
  • We remain committed to creating a workplace that is free of hateful conduct, racism, and discrimination so that all members of the Defence Team feel safe, protected, and respected. 

If Pressed on Anti-Racism Secretariat and Advisory Panel:

  • We created the Anti-Racism Secretariat to support National Defence Leadership in their efforts to address systemic racism and discrimination. 
  • This Secretariat also supports the Minister’s Advisory Panel on Systemic Racism and Discrimination through identifying and proposing solutions to systemic barriers, and promoting culture change. 
  • I am pleased to advise that the final report of the Minister’s Advisory Panel was published online Monday, April 25. 
  • Close to half of the Advisory Panel’s recommendations are currently being implemented, while others will take more time due to their scope, their complexity and the requirement to collaborate with external partners.

Key Facts

  • Advisory Panel Report: On December 17, 2020, the MND created an Advisory Panel as part of National Defence’s efforts to support Indigenous, Black and People of Colour, along with the LGBTQ2+ community and women. 
  • In their report, the Panel members identify 13 key areas of opportunity with a total of 43 specific recommendations. 
  • The Panel will continue to work with the Chief, Professional Conduct and Culture and the Anti-Racism Secretariat to review the progress as National Defence implements the recommendations. 
  • July 2020: CAF introduced policy providing direction on how to address incidents of hateful conduct. 
    • This policy includes an Incident Tracking System
  • February 28, 2022: A total of 273 alleged incidents (dating back to 1997) are currently being tracked in the Hateful Conduct Incident Tracking System. 
  • Hateful conduct incidents: 
    • Three individuals are being investigated as a result of a number of events that took place in 2022 on a Basic Training Course at Naval Fleet School (Pacific) in Victoria, and one individual is being released from the military. 
    • Ex-reservist Patrik Mathews was a recruiter for The Base, an extremist group. In October 2021, a U.S. judge sentenced him to nine years in prison for his role in a neo-Nazi plot. 
    • 4th Canadian Rangers Patrol Group Cases: 
      • On July 2, 2020, Corey Hurren crashed the gates at Rideau Hall with a loaded firearm and issued threats against the Prime Minister. MCpl Hurren was officially released on March 5, 2021. 
      • On August 25, 2020, CBC reported that Erik Myggland was previously investigated for his involvement in far-right organizations but he was allowed to continue serving in the Canadian Armed Forces without interruption. MCpl Myggland was officially released on March 17, 2021. 
    • Release proceedings were completed in January 2021 for Sailor First Class Boris Mihajlovic, who was the former administrator of a neo-Nazi forum.

Universality of Service

  • The Canadian Armed Forces’ unique role requires members to be deployable and to perform a wide range of tasks. 
  • This minimum operational standard allows our Forces to quickly provide support to emergency responses across Canada and to conduct operations abroad. 
  • At the same time, we recognize the need to create an inclusive workplace and reduce barriers to service, while maintaining the Universality of Service principle enshrined in the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA). 
  • That is why National Defence is currently using an evidence-based approach to review and modernize this policy so that it better meets the evolving roles and operations of the Canadian Armed Forces. 
  • This review will be informed by GBA+, and include an update of the minimum operational standards so that they are clearly defined and measurable. 
  • The current phase of review involves the development of the specific methods by which members’ compliance with the standard will be assessed. 
  • National Defence will continue to provide support and health care to members throughout their careers to optimize their operational effectiveness and to help them return to service when they temporarily fall below the minimum operational standards, as a result of illness or injury.

Key Facts

  • 2024: Anticipated completion date for the modernization of the Universality of Service policy. 
    • 2017: Chief of the Defence Staff direction to modernize Universality of Service. 
  • Changes to the universality of service policy will include: 
    • GBA+ informed, individualized, and holistic approach; 
    • Evidence-based approach; and,  
    • Horizontal alignment with legislation, regulations, and other policies.

Page details

Date modified: