Gender-Based Violence

  • National Defence is committed to preventing and addressing gender-based violence in the Defence Team, including against women, 2SLGBTQI+, gender diverse, and gender non-conforming people.
  • To advance these efforts, Budget 2021 announced funding for National Defence over five years, to expand and continue our work to eliminate sexual misconduct and gender-based violence in the military and to support survivors.
  • In these Main Estimates, National Defence is requesting an internal reallocation from Vote 1 to Vote 10 of $2 million to continue administering the Community Support for Sexual Misconduct Survivors Grant Program.
  • The Community Support for Sexual Misconduct Survivors Grant Program funds projects from not-for-profit community-based service providers with the capacity and expertise to provide services and initiatives for those affected by sexual misconduct in the wider Defence community, including (but not limited to):
    • Sexual assault centres;
    • Online platforms; and,
    • Mental health services.
  • The geographic scope of this program is also being expanded to every region in Canada where there is a Defence Team presence.
  • The new transfer payment program launched its first call for applications in fall 2022, and successful funding recipients have been identified and publicly announced.
  • Grant agreements have been established and payments were successfully issued in March 2023, with the next call for applications anticipated to launch this fall.
  • National Defence will continue to expand our work to eliminate sexual misconduct and gender-based violence in the military, and to support survivors.

Key Facts

  • Budget 2021: Provided National Defence $41.3 million over five years, beginning in fiscal year 2021-22, and $3.6 million ongoing to implement four initiatives related to gender-based violence in the Defence community:
    • Conducting research on the prevention of sexual misconduct;
    • Providing responsive options for victims of military sexual misconduct, including independent legal assistance;
    • Developing a peer support pilot program to be jointly offered with Veterans Affairs Canada; and,
    • Expanding and revising the Sexual Misconduct Support and Resource Centre’s existing transfer payment program to provide more flexible access to grant funding for a range of community-based organizations.
  • The Community Support for Sexual Misconduct Survivors Grant Program is augmented by a broader scope of eligible projects and services aimed at the Defence community, including:
    • Providing crisis management, information and support through a communications line to provide supportive listening information and options on sexual assault, referrals, or access to hospital, medical or police services;
    • Providing individual and group counselling to address a range of needs related to having experienced sexual misconduct;
    • Providing specialized services that address the unique needs of female, male, and 2SLGBTQI+ survivors;
    • Building relationships and working with individuals and community partners to provide outreach and education to the community;
    • Establishing support groups for survivors who have experienced sexual misconduct, including specialized groups and drop-in groups;
    • Providing information, referrals, accompaniment, or advocacy to assist survivors in the areas of healing, trauma, survivor support, health care, employment, criminal justice system, and legal rights and responsibilities;
    • Developing innovative tools (including virtual) that enable survivors to better access resources; and,
    • Producing research related to the support of those impacted by CAF sexual misconduct.
  • This grant program is replacing the Contributions in Support of Various Sexual Assault Centres in Canada Program, which ended on March 31, 2023.

Health Resources and Services for CAF Women

  • We recognize that women and diverse members in the Canadian Armed Forces have unique health needs and that tailored resources and services must be available to optimally support their health and well-being.
  • That is why Budget 2022 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.
  • In these Estimates, we are requesting $25.6 million to advance initiatives to meet the unique clinical, occupational, and deployment needs.
  • These include drafting educational materials for CAF women and gender-diverse members; establishing a formal programmatic cancer screening program; and increasing population health surveillance.
  • We are also taking concrete steps to make our health resources and services more inclusive for women and diverse members right now.

Examples of Health Resources and Services

  • For example, we have begun work to establish the Women’s Health / Health Care for Diversity Core Team, which will advance health care initiatives for women and diverse members.
  • In addition, we are actively hiring new staff for Canadian Armed Forces health clinics with a women and diversity focus, as well as specialists to research and guide related new programing and education.  
  • Women members often face challenges related to accessible and private spaces to pump breast milk, and for this reason, we have made 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 and diverse members to identify the gaps and needs in our current health care system, and taking action to address them. 

Key Facts

Supporting CAF Women and Diverse Members Health and Wellness:

  • The Total Health and Wellness Strategy was released on March 4, 2022.
    • The Strategy is the first of its kind at Defence and represents a renewed and integrated approach to the care for Defence Team members and their families.
    • It lays the foundation for a more comprehensive approach to health and well-being that considers factors both inside and outside the workplace.
  • The Women’s Health initiative and integrated Health Care for Diversity plan involves four lines of effort:
    • Health care;
    • Illness and injury prevention;
    • Research and engagement; and,
    • Quality and performance assessment.
  • The Women’s Health initiative 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 and/or evacuation to the next most appropriate level of care.
  • The Canadian Armed Forces has also established other types of compassionate leave to enable members to take leave to cope with stressors that affect mental health, including:
    • Pregnancy or adoption loss;
    • Victims of family violence; and,
    • Parents of young victims of crime.

Culture Evolution

* Includes lines on the Arbour Report

  • Our priority is to build a Defence Team where all members feel protected and respected by their colleagues and superiors.
  • That is why we continue to advance meaningful culture evolution and deliver substantive changes across the institution, although we recognize that much work remains ahead of us.
  • To that end, we are requesting $13.6 million in these Estimates to help implement a number of initiatives announced as part of Budget 2022 in support of culture evolution in National Defence.
  • These initiatives include the improvement of character-based leadership assessments, the development of a public-facing dashboard, and a response to calls for consultation and engagement.
  • All these initiatives are geared towards improving transparency across the Defence Team so that we can promote culture evolution and rebuild trust.
  • For example, we are implementing systemic changes, including strengthening the promotion process for senior leaders to better assess talent, competence, and character.
  • We are also making progress on the development of an evidence-based framework for character-based assessments.
  • Further, this month National Defence will release a public-facing dashboard, which will allow for open reporting and greater transparency on a wide range of data.
  • Beyond these initiatives, the Canadian Armed Forces leadership has also endorsed a ten-year talent spotting plan for women, and we are working to develop talent spotting plans for other equity seeking groups.
  • Finally, building on commitments that I outlined to Members in this Committee and to Parliament in December, the External Monitor will issue her first report shortly.

Key Facts

Budget 2022

  • Allocated a total of $100.5M over six years, with $1.7M in remaining amortization, and $16.8M ongoing to:
    • Strengthen leadership in the CAF;
    • Undertake engagement and consultation on culture evolution; and,
    • Enhance restorative services, among other things (including military justice initiatives).

Independent External Comprehensive Review (IECR)

  • National Defence received the report on May 20, 2022, and publicly released it on May 30, 2022.
  • The report provides 48 recommendations that fall within 11 areas of focus, including definitions of sexual misconduct and harassment, the military justice system, military colleges, and the role of the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre.

External Comprehensive Review Implementation Committee (ECRIC)

  • The ECRIC, co-chaired by the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff and the Judge Advocate General, is responsible for developing and overseeing a plan to implement the recommendations from Madame Arbour and other external comprehensive reviews.

External Monitor

  • On October 24, 2022, Madame Jocelyne Therrien was appointed as External Monitor to provide advice to the Minister of National Defence in the oversight of the implementation of the recommendations of the IECR (Recommendation 48).
  • The External Monitor released is expected to release her first progress report shortly.

Key Dates

  • Chief Professional Conduct and Culture established in spring 2021.
  • Modernized military ranks in French in February 2022.
  • Trusted to Serve published in June 2022.
  • Updated CAF dress instructions were announced in July 2022 and took effect on 6 September 2022.

Other Canadian Armed Forces Culture Initiatives

  • Culture Evolution Strategy: CPCC has collaborated with organizations across the Defence Team to develop a Culture Evolution Strategy. The strategy will align, inform, coordinate, and enable culture evolution by integrating all initiatives. It will also provide an approach for coordination and analysis of new initiatives, policies, programs, and practices.
  • Culture Evolution Framework and GBA+ Enterprise Approach: The Framework is informed by academic research and the lived experience of Defence Personnel and will establish standards to connect and integrate both existing initiatives and new efforts to build a healthy culture aligned with our values.
  • Senior leadership selection process being updated to include:
    • Evidence-based character assessments; and
    • Increased verification of candidates’ past for misconduct.
  • As of April 2023, approximately 50 senior leaders have gone through the updated selection process, and approximately 30 leaders are in various stages of the process for promotion year 2023.
  • Advice Committee: On an ad-hoc, as-needed basis, a select group of internal subject matter experts in National Defence operations, programs, policies, and/or conduct may be assembled to provide objective, impartial, non-binding advice to leadership on contentious or complex CAF cases related to conduct deficiencies.
  • Workplace Reintegration Framework V2: This Framework provides guidance to leaders at all levels for the accountable and safe workplace reintegration of any CAF member involved in allegations, investigations, and findings related to conduct deficiency.
  • DAG Secretariat: To elevate and support the voices of our Defence Advisory Groups, a secretariat was established to provide these volunteer members of the Defence Team with the support they need to conduct their valuable work.
  • Positive Space Program: The program aims to foster a safe and inclusive work environment for everyone, including members of 2SLGBTQI+ communities.
  • National Defence launched an Anti-Racism Toolkit and Resource Hub, which provides guides, tip sheets, and activities to help stimulate ongoing dialogue among Defence Team members and accelerate culture evolution.


Senior Leadership Selection Process:

  • In October 2021, the CAF took its first steps to introduce new rigour and science to its promotion selection process. This sets the stage for an ongoing evolution of the CAF’s processes for promotion and appointment to be more inclusive and to ensure those selected embody CAF ethics and values.
  • The CAF has since begun using evidence-based selection tools for General Officer and Flag Officer (GOFO) selection, providing greater insight into the character of officers entrusted to lead the Defence Team.
  • As a first step, candidates on the GOFO selection boards complete three online psychometric assessments. The results of these assessments contribute to the member’s overall score.
  • Candidates who are recommended to the Minister for promotion to, or within, the GOFO Cadre are subject to a post-selection confirmation step using what is known as a “360 degree” assessment tool. This process collects feedback from multiple evaluators regarding an individual’s leadership effectiveness.
  • In addition, a third-party conflict of interest interview is conducted and the observations incorporated into the recommendations.
  • Research and consultation are underway to develop an evidence-based framework for character-based assessments that can be expanded to other leadership ranks in the coming years. 

Public Online Database:

  • Drawing from existing databases and surveys, the dashboard will provide culture evolution-related information, including a list of existing research and studies, as well as policies and directives driving change across Defence.

CAF Ethos: Trusted to Serve:

  • Trusted to Serve is a 60-page guide on how best to apply the CAF Ethos and its elements in daily military service.
  • The first and most important principle found in Trusted to Serve is to respect the dignity of all persons. This foundational principle, as well as other Defence Team values and ethics, are now incorporated in the CAF Ethos in a way that more fully articulates what is expected from military personnel – with a strong emphasis on character, competence, and trust.
  • Trusted to Serve builds upon Duty with Honour: The Profession of Arms in Canada. Duty with Honour remains valid at this time; however, it is also undergoing review with the intent to release an updated version of the entire publication in 2023.

Chief Professional Conduct and Culture:

  • Established in 2021, Chief Professional Conduct and Culture (CPCC) works to unify and integrate all associated culture evolution activities across National Defence.
  • CPCC is the centre of expertise and single, functional authority for aligning Defence culture to ensure professional conduct meets the standards expected of the profession of arms and the Defence Team. Since its establishment, CPCC has:
    • Engaged with over 12,000 Defence Team members to listen and learn from the lived experiences and expertise of our members.
    • Initiated a thorough and comprehensive review of the approach to basic training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School.
    • Started development of a conduct and culture training and education framework. The framework will enhance education and awareness programs, related to conduct and culture.
    • Published an Initiating Directive to incorporate the measurement and evaluation of inclusive behaviours within existing Defence Team personnel performance and management frameworks. Initiated the expansion of leadership support teams and coaching and unit command climate assessments. Four successive unit trials are ongoing and will be completed by May 2023. The Defence Team Coaching Program has also launched individual sessions for 382 Defence Team Members and completed three out of 11 Team Coaching Programs.
    • Published a Workplace Reintegration Framework V2 which provides guidance to leaders at all levels for the reintegration of a CAF member who is subject to allegations, investigations or findings related to a conduct deficiency. This version was informed by lessons learned over the last year and adjustments were made. 
    • Restorative servicesare providing increased support and new avenues to address and repair harm, restore individual relationships, strengthen teams, rebuild trust, and promote long-lasting institutional change. CPCC is currently finalizing a restorative services framework including guidelines, services standards, operating procedures, and a communication plan.
    • Comprehensive efforts are now underway to create a healthier, safer and more inclusive organizational culture. These efforts must be informed by meaningful and continuous engagement with Defence Team members and partners outside of the organization, including those with lived experience and/or specific expertise in the domains of organizational culture change and professional conduct.

Minister’s Report to Parliament

  • On December 12, 2022, the Minister tabled a report in Parliament entitled Minister of National Defence’s Report to Parliament on Culture Change Reforms in response to former Supreme Court Justice Arbour’s Recommendations.
  • The report indicates that after careful analysis and robust consultation, the Minister decided that all of Justice Arbour’s recommendations would be accepted.
  • It further indicates that the Minister has directed National Defence officials to move forward on implementing all 48 of Justice Arbour’s recommendations.
  • In addition, the report outlines the following:
    • The Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces’ ongoing work to implement the 17 IECR recommendations that the Minister initially accepted;
    • The roadmap to respond to Madame Arbour's remaining 31 recommendations; and,
    • Ongoing and forthcoming culture change initiatives that align with Madame Arbour's recommendations.

Military Justice Modernization

  • National Defence recognizes that the continued modernization of the military justice system contributes to building a healthy, inclusive, and safe workplace free from discrimination, harassment, and violence.
  • That is why, in these Main Estimates, we are requesting $3.1 million for contracting for Justice Administration and Information Management System (JAIMS) software development costs, as well as to cover Shared Services Canada and Public Works and Government Services Canada fees and inflation.
  • This investment will help strengthen the military’s case management system and improve the efficiency of the military justice system.
  • These efforts are part of our broader commitment to support the continued modernization of the military justice system.
  • This includes our ongoing work to holistically address the recommendations from the independent reviews by former Supreme Court Justices Arbour and Fish.
  • In June 2022, the remaining provisions of Bill C-77 came into force, updating the military justice system.
  • This included the Declaration of Victims Rights, which introduced the role of a Victim’s Liaison Officer to assist victims in accessing their rights.
  • Prior to the coming into force, we carried out a significant internal and external consultation effort that helped shape the modernization of the military justice system.
  • We continue to improve the military justice system for our members, striving to reflect Canadian values and ensuring the rule of law.

If pressed on removing CAF jurisdiction over Criminal Code sexual offences:

  • This recommendation raises important multi-jurisdictional issues, including complex policy, operational and legal considerations.
  • To address these matters, a Federal-Provincial-Territorial Deputy Minister-level committee has convened to develop the path forward, which will inform implementation options.
  • All jurisdictions have expressed their commitment to supporting victims and ensuring the proper functioning of the criminal justice systems – military and civilian.
  • I look forward to continued productive discussions on this issue.

If pressed on the number of Criminal Code sexual offences that have been transferred:

  • The number of cases referred by the Military Police changes regularly.
  • To date, more than half of the cases the Military Police have sought to refer to federal, provincial, and municipal police services have been accepted.

If pressed on police forces asking for resources to handle military sexual assault cases:

  • Some of Canada’s largest police forces have accepted the referral of investigations into alleged sexual offences from the Military Police.
  • This includes the RCMP, Sûreté du Québec, Ontario Provincial Police, and other police services.
  • The Military Police continue to offer support to civilian police when referring cases, such as facilitating access to members of the Defence Team, property, or information. 
We will continue to collaborate with provinces and territories in support of the smooth referral of cases.

Key Facts

  • Budget 2022: $100.5M over six years, with $1.7M in remaining amortization, and $16.8 million ongoing allocated to modernize the military justice system and support culture change in the CAF, among other initiatives. This includes:
  • $15M invested to bolster the Justice Administration and Information Management System (JAIMS). By strengthening the case management system, National
  • Defence will improve the efficiency of the military justice system.
  • June 2022: Remaining provisions of an Act to Amend the National Defence Act (Bill C-77) came into force, thereby:
  • Strengthening rights afforded to victims of service offences;
  • Bringing military justice system into closer alignment with civilian criminal justice system; and,
  • Creating Victim Liaison Officersto assist victims in accessing their rights and understanding processeswithin the Military Justice System. Victim Liaison Officers:
  • Explain to the victim the manner in which service offences are charged, dealt with and tried under the Code of Service Discipline;
  • Obtain and transmit to the victim information relating to a service offence that the victim has requested and to which the victim has a right under the Declaration of Victims Rights.
  • Developed a military-wide online brief in June 2022, which promotes awareness of changes to the military justice system and appropriate actions when faced with an incident of misconduct as a victim, witness, or military justice actor.
  • All members of the Military Police take trauma informed training to ensure those who come forward feel safe, heard, and protected.


IECR Recommendation 5 and Interim Recommendations

  • In December 2022, and in response to Recommendation 5 of the IECR, the Minister of National Defence directed officials to present options on how jurisdictional change can occur, in consultation with federal, provincial, and territorial partners.
  • The implementation of Recommendation 5 raised several important multi-jurisdictional considerations. To address these matters, a Federal-Provincial-Territorial ad hoc Deputy Minister-level committee began meeting in February 2023 to facilitate dialogue and co-operation and make recommendations to inform the way forward.
  • Until such time that a decision is made on the implementation of recommendation 5, the October 2021 IECR interim recommendation remains in effect.
  • In November 2021, the Minister of National Defence as well as the Director of Military Prosecutions and the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal accepted the IECR interim recommendation 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 be referred to civilian authorities.
  • Shortly thereafter, the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal began referring applicable Criminal Code sexual offence files to civilian authorities.
  • As these referrals are made, the Military Police are working with civilian police agencies to ensure this is done in a deliberate, victim-centered, and trauma-informed way.
  • For cases that are declined by the civilian police of concurrent jurisdiction and a criminal investigation is conducted by the Military Police, the Military Police will lay charges under the civilian justice system, where warranted.

Report of the Third Independent Review Authority (2021)

  • On November 5, 2020, the Minister of National Defence appointed former Supreme Court Justice Fish as the Independent Review Authority to conduct an independent review of specified provisions of the National Defence Act and their operation, as is required by the Act.
  • Justice Fish’s report, tabled on June 1, 2021, contains 107 wide-ranging recommendations, with most of them dealing with the military justice system, including how issues of sexual misconduct are addressed, military policing, and military police oversight.
  • The current focus is to implement those recommendations identified as the most critical to the modernization of the military justice system:
    • Strengthening the independence of military justice actors;
    • Improving data collection and management related to military justice; and,
    • Convening working groups to set the course for long-term reforms to the military justice system.

External Comprehensive Review Implementation Committee (ECRIC)

  • On October 25, 2021, the Chief of Defence Staff/Deputy Minister signed a directive establishing the External Comprehensive Review Implementation Committee (ECRIC).
  • The ECRIC, co-chaired by the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff and the Judge Advocate General, is developing and overseeing a plan to implement the recommendations from former Justice Fish, former Justice Arbour, and other external comprehensive reviews.

Victims and Survivors of Service Offences Webpage

  • This webpage serves as a central repository featuring descriptions of victims’ rights in the CAF, and offers information and links to resources for victims and survivors of service offences and any associated parties navigating the military justice system. It is the main awareness tool for victims’ rights in the CAF.
  • The webpage was fully amended in June of 2022 following the implementation of the Declaration of Victims Rights.

Heyder-Beattie Class Action Final Settlement Agreement

  • We fully acknowledge the harmful impact that sexual misconduct and discrimination has on members of the Defence Team.
  • That is why we reached an agreement to compensate individuals affected by sexual misconduct in connection with their service or employment.
  • In these Main Estimates, we are requesting $24.3 million for administration, support for the claims process, and policy measures including the implementation of the Restorative Engagement program.
  • The aim is for the settlement to help bring closure, healing, and acknowledgement to those who have experienced sexual misconduct or sexual orientation-based discrimination.
  • We recognize our members – past and present – who have come forward to report their experiences, and we will work diligently to foster a work environment where each member feels supported and heard.

If pressed on allocation of funds:

  • The settlement provides up to $900 million for individual compensation to eligible class members, and the compensation amounts depend on how many class members submit claims.
  • The range of individual compensation for eligible class members is between $5,000 and $55,000, and class members who experienced long-lasting serious harm may be eligible for amounts up to $155,000.
  • As of April 11, 2023, a total of 18,156 claims have been approved for initial payment and/or paid.
  • All parties are working to ensure that the assessment of all claims submitted before January 24, 2022 is completed swiftly.

If pressed on the decision to appeal the Federal Court ruling on late claims:

  • In January 2023, the Federal Court ruled that late claims could be accepted in the class action settlement where it is in the interests of justice to do so, until February 6, 2023.
  • The Defence Team continues to work diligently with all parties in all aspects of the implementation of the Final Settlement Agreement. 
  • It is not possible to provide further details, as the information is protected by Solicitor Client Privilege.

Key Facts

  • 2016 – 2017: Several former CAF members filed class action lawsuits, claiming damages for gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual assault in connection with their military service and/or employment with the Department of National Defence and/or Staff of the Non-Public Funds, Canadian Forces.
  • 2019: The parties involved in these class actions, now known collectively as Heyder-Beattie, negotiated a Final Settlement Agreement that was signed in July 2019, and approved by the Federal Court on November 25, 2019.
  • December 2021: The Treasury Board approved access to $66.56 million over five years for National Defence to implement the Restorative Engagement program within the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (now the Sexual Misconduct Support and Resource Centre).
    • On December 13, 2021, the Minister, DM, and CDS issued the Government of Canada, DND/CAF Apology to Persons Affected by Sexual Misconduct.
  • A total of up to $900 million is available to certain class members who experienced sexual misconduct in connection with their work.
  • The agreement provides:
    • Financial compensation to claimants;
    • Payments for the administration of the claims process;
    • The option for claimants to participate in a restorative engagement program; and,
    • Several other measures aimed at culture change and addressing sexual misconduct in the CAF.
  • Restorative Engagement:
    • This measure is creating opportunities for claimants to share their experiences of sexual misconduct, and for Defence representatives to acknowledge, understand, and learn.
    • Throughout the process, participants are supported by Sexual Misconduct Support and Resource Centre restorative practitioners.
    • Restorative Engagement is ensuring opportunities for both class members and Defence representatives to talk about the causes and impacts of sexual misconduct, to help identify lessons learned, and to contribute to making positive changes to our culture.

Canadian Forces Health Care – Blue Cross Supplementary Insurance

  • National Defence recognizes that Canadian Armed Forces members have unique health needs and require timely, quality health care services in Canada and wherever they are deployed.
  • That is why we are requesting $26.8 million in these Main Estimates to help offset the rising costs of purchasing supplemental health services for our members from provinces and territories or from private sector health care providers.
  • These services include hospital and diagnostic services, mental health care, physical injury care, and specialist clinician services.
  • This funding will be provided to Canadian Forces Health Services within National Defence.
  • National Defence recognizes that a robust military health care system has a positive impact on the morale and health of members, and contributes to our overall readiness.

Key Facts


  • 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.
  • To continue protecting the health and safety of the members who serve in the Canadian Armed Forces, especially during COVID-19, Budget 2021 announced $134.3 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, and $28.2 million per year ongoing.

Rising Health Care Costs:

  • The Canadian Armed Forces maintains core health services capability to support deployed operations and to provide basic health care services domestically to members at bases, wings, and other units. 
  • Canadian Armed Forces members are not part of the Canada Health Act.
  • Supplemental health care services are routinely purchased from the provinces / territories or from private sector health care providers, such as surgeries, hospitalization, and specialty care.
    • Canadian Armed Forces members are charged different rates for health care services in different provinces / territories.
    • The increasing costs of purchasing these supplemental health care services have created ongoing funding pressures.
    • Between 2013-14 and 2020-21, supplemental health care services have had an average annual funding shortfall of $25 million.
    • In an effort to close this funding gap, Budget 2021 allocated new baseline funding.
  • The increases in costs are due to a number of factors:
    • Increased costs in the Canadian health care sector;
    • Changes in Canadian Armed Forces demographics as a result of recruiting and retention policy decisions, including impacts to the health system secondary to CAF recruiting and retention efforts; and
    • Increased promotion of health services to members.

Service Income Security Insurance Plan (SISIP)

  • Military service places a unique demand on its members and their families.
  • The Service Income Security Insurance Plan – or the SISIP Policy – provides financial and insurance services and products to Canadian Armed Forces members, veterans, and their families.
  • This includes optional life insurance for serving members, veterans and spouses, and long-term disability coverage for serving members
  • In these Main Estimates, National Defence is requesting a total of $447.0 million.
  • This includes $446.7 million to go towards payments for long-term disability and life insurance plan for members of the Canadian Armed Forces, and $275 thousand for ongoing operating costs.
  • Taken together, this funding will ensure that members receive the money they are entitled to.

Key Facts

  • In December 2021, Treasury Board approved the alignment of long-term disability benefits with a previously announced increase to Canadian Forces rates of pay in 2020. Specifically, National Defence was authorized to:
  • Access $108.9 million in 2021-22 (Defence requested this funding through Supplementary Estimates(C), 2021-22);
  • Access $23 million in 2022-23 and onwards (requested through the current Main Estimates).
  • In April 2019, Treasury Board Canada transferred financial management responsibilities for the SISIP program to National Defence.
  • This has improved decision making and strengthened compliance by streamlining financial responsibilities and policy decisions under one department.

Recruitment and Retention

  • We are committed to evolving our culture, growing the Canadian Armed Forces, and ensuring that our Forces reflect Canada’s diversity.
  • We are improving the recruiting experience by digitizing, streamlining and redesigning the recruitment process to ensure each application is processed efficiently.
  • To attract all eligible Canadians and permanent residents, we are prioritizing the recognition of past experience during the recruiting process, which will accelerate military career paths.
  • Permanent residents are also now welcome to apply to the Canadian Armed Forces as they represent an important, skilled, and diverse workforce in Canada.
  • Additionally, we are improving our talent management efforts to better place members in occupations that match their interests, skills, abilities, and experience.
  • Further, to increase our outreach and education to eligible Canadians, including to under-represented groups, we are conducting focused engagements with communities across Canada.
  • We are also enhancing Canadian Armed Forces branding and conducting targeted advertising to convey to Canadians the value of a military career.
  • Accordingly, in March 2023, the Canadian Armed Forces launched its new general awareness campaign, entitled ‘This is For You’.
  • Further, the Royal Canadian Navy is implementing a new recruitment initiative, the Naval Experience Program, which will provide Canadians the opportunity to experience the Navy as a sailor for a one-year contract.
  • This unique initiative will reduce the amount of time it takes to train civilians as sailors and allows recruits to try various trades before committing to a long-term military career.  
  • In October 2022, National Defence launched a new retention strategy to better support our members by responding to their emerging and changing needs.
  • In addition, we are reviewing the training programs at every level, including basic training, to ensure we remain prepared to excel in operations at home and abroad while building a more inclusive team.
  • Through these efforts, the Canadian Armed Forces will become a first-rate career choice that will attract talented Canadians for years to come, thereby ensuring that the Forces is optimized to meet current and future security needs at home and abroad.

If pressed on the Canadian Forces Housing Differential

  • The Canadian Forces Housing Differential policy aligns with our efforts to support members in a deliberate and issues-focused manner.
  • The policy is designed to be equitable and assist members with housing costs when they are relocated within Canada.
  • It is estimated that about 28,000 Canadian Armed Forces members will qualify for the new housing benefit.

Key Facts

Ongoing Recruitment Initiatives:

  • Targeted engagement with communities across Canada to increase representation of under-represented groups.
  • Programs to increase Indigenous representation.
  • Prioritizing women applicants within all CAF enrolment programs, including at military colleges.
  • December 5, 2022 – The Minister announced that permanent residents are welcome to apply to enrol in the Canadian Armed Forces.
  • Citizenship applications from CAF members will be processed on a priority basis by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
  • In 2022-2023 (as of December 31, 2022) 5,242individuals joined the Regular Force and Primary Reserve, 17.0% of whom were women.
    • 2021-2022 intake: 8,069 individuals.
    • 2020-2021 intake: 4,262 individuals.
  • Indigenous Representation: 2.9%(as of November 30, 2022); goal is 3.5% by 2026.
  • Canadian Armed Forces Employment Equity Plan 2021-2026 recognizes the 2SLGBTQi+ community as a designated group.

    New Promotion and Selection Process: National General Officer and Flag Officer Selection Boards now feature procedural improvements including mandating that one voting member be from an Employment Equity group.


Current Programs and Initiatives

  • National Defence implements a broad range of proactive and targeted recruitment programs aimed at increasing the representation of women, visible minorities, and Indigenous Peoples in the Canadian Armed Forces. These programs and initiatives include:
    • Operation GENERATION, an ongoing mission to meet employment equity goals, reduce enrolment times, and modernize recruiting activities;
    • The Canadian Armed Forces Indigenous Entry Program, a three-week hands-on experience program for Indigenous Peoples who are considering a career in the CAF;
    • The Indigenous Leadership Opportunity Year (ILOY) provides Indigenous participants with exposure to the CAF military and academic disciplines. Enrolled and paid as Officer Cadets, participants experience university-level educational and leadership opportunities at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario;
    • It is the only Indigenous program focused on developing potential officers. Participants are enrolled into the Regular Force as Officer Cadets;
    • Multiple six-week paid Primary Reserve Indigenous Summer Programs, which integrate cultural teachings with military training.
    • Participants who successfully complete a program are granted the CAF Army Reserve Basic Military Qualification.
  • Work is also underway to improve the CAF’s employment model and provide flexible career options, such as:
    • component transfers (Regular Force to Primary Reserve and Primary Reserve to Regular Force);
    • flexible or interim work policies; and
    • modernizing the nature of full-time and part-time employment within the CAF.
  • Seamless Canada Initiative: Aims to enable cooperation between National Defence and provinces and territories to help military families relocate more seamlessly between the provinces and territories.
  • Permanent Residents: The Canadian Forces Recruiting Group accepts trained applicants from foreign militaries. These applicants include pilots, logistics officers, infantry officers and other skilled professionals, who may become enrolled in the CAF if they have permanent resident status in Canada.
  • The intent is to broaden the pool to enable other permanent residents, who meet the same criteria as Canadian citizens to enroll in the CAF as new recruits or officer cadets.
  • The Chief of the Defence Staff signed a document on October 18, 2022, that reinforces existing policy and designates authority to the Commander Military Personnel Command and the Commander Canadian Forces Recruiting Group for the enrolment of a citizen of another country who has permanent resident status under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
  • Naval Experience Program: The Naval Experience Program (NEP) is a recruiting program offered by the Royal Canadian Navy, open to Canadian citizens and permanent residents between the age of 16-57.
  • NEP offers Canadians the opportunity to experience Navy as a sailor on a one-year contract and provide them with exposure to a variety of naval trades before deciding if a career in the Navy is the right fit for them.
  • Participants receive the same pay and benefits as any other CAF recruits.
  • After the one-year contract, participants can choose to continue to serve with the RCN, either full-time or part-time, transfer to another element, or leave the RCN.

Other Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

  • Other diversity and inclusion initiatives include, but are not limited to:
    • Dress Instructions Update – this has eliminated binary uniform and appearance choices, allowing CAF personnel the freedom to choose the uniform that makes them most comfortable.
    • Inclusive Ranks in French – French versions of all designations of ranks now have official Gender Inclusive equivalents.
    • Women’s Health Framework – this aims to enhance women’s health care and increase knowledge of women’s health issues and topics within the military.
    • Post-natal Care – the CAF has released its first Nursing and Pumping Policy, which requires all Commanding Officers to establish a lactation plan to support their members.
    • Compassionate Leave Policy – this allows members to request new types of leave to account for pregnancy loss, family violence, and parents of young victims of crime, for example.
    • Training Needs Assessment – the most recent Training Needs Assessment addressing professional conduct was conducted in 2020. Results are being reviewed to develop an implementation plan.

Canadian Armed Forces Retention Strategy

  • On October 6, 2022, National Defence released the Canadian Armed Forces Retention Strategy, which is composed of three elements:
    • Better understanding the drivers that impact/hinder retention rates;
    • Outlining key considerations from leadership responsibilities, to flexible policies to effective communication; and
    • Identifying concrete levels of effort to guide a deliberate approach to this problem-set, including strengthening governance.

Canadian Forces Housing Differential

  • The CFHD will replace the Post Living Differential and will take effect on July 1, 2023.
  • The CFHD is TBS-mandated, and the result of significant deliberation by the DND, CAF and TBS to establish a policy that respects the allotted annual budget for this differential, while focusing on assisting those CAF members who require housing assistance most.
  • The CFHD is focused on lower-salaried members in exceptionally expensive locations, such as Victoria and Toronto.
  • It is estimated that about 28,000 Canadian Armed Forces members will qualify for the new housing benefit.


  • The Canadian Armed Forces serves Canada by defending our values, interests, and sovereignty at home and abroad.
  • However, the Canadian Armed Forces is also experiencing a shortfall in personnel that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and Canada-wide labour shortages.
  • That is why we are undertaking significant reconstitution efforts to make us a stronger and more effective organization.
  • On October 6, 2022, we released the Canadian Armed Forces Reconstitution Directive that is focused on rebuilding the strength and number of our members, and the structures necessary to defend and protect Canadians.
  • We want every Canadian to see service to Canada within the Canadian Armed Forces as a first-rate career choice, and we are prioritizing efforts that strengthen how we recruit, retain, and take care of our people.
  • This includes creating an environment where members feel welcomed, valued, and safe.
  • This period of reconstitution and modernization is essential to ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces is optimized to meet current and future security needs both at home and abroad.

Key Facts

Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Reconstitution Directive

  • Released October 6, 2022, the CAF Reconstitution Directive will help ensure the long-term viability of the CAF through an in-depth analysis and prioritization of all tasks, operations, plans, and activities.
  • The directive focuses on two priority areas:
  1. People:
    • Every Canadian needs to see the CAF as a first-rate career choice, where they will feel welcome, valued, and safe to bring their talents to bear in service to our country.
    • To attract and retain talent from across Canada, the Military Personnel Management System needs to be modernized to support CAF members so that they can achieve their goals and have fulfilling and successful careers.
    • Similarly, policies that directly address the stressors of military service will see further refinement to enhance retention and demonstrate a commitment to our people.
    • To support recruitment, retention and reconstitution efforts, National Defence is taking steps to ensure that current and prospective Canadian Armed Forces members have financial security for them and their families, modern infrastructure, modern equipment and meaningful work at home and abroad.
  2. Operations:
    • Limited staff capacity means bold steps must be taken to rationalize activities, reduce process limitations, and cease activities that do not directly contribute to the growth of the CAF, operations, or modernization.
    • Readiness will be further reinforced by developing operational capacity in the burgeoning domains of cyber and space.

Cost of Living Challenges

* Includes information about the Canadian Forces Housing Differential (the Post Living Differential replacement)

  • Canadian Armed Forces members and their families are our top priority, and we are taking steps to ensure they are supported.
  • For instance, we have provided a cost of living adjustment to the rates of pay for military members.
  • We also recently released the Canadian Forces Housing Differential, which is designed to be an equitable approach, helping those Canadian Armed Forces members that need it most.
  • In 2021/2022, we began allocating $40 million dollars per year for 10 years to be invested in the National Defence military family housing program.
  • Starting in 2022/2023, we allocated an additional $15 million dollars per year for 3 years, which means that we will be investing $55 million dollars per year in residential housing for CAF members.
  • This includes renovation projects to ensure the existing 11,641 housing units are functional and suitable.
  • Some of this funding will also go towards constructing new housing and accommodation units at Bases and Wings over the next several years, including CFB Comox, CFB Shilo, and CFB Edmonton.
  • In addition, we delivered an interim policy to enable remote work options and we expanded the active posting season across five months to create flexibility for families.
  • 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 for family members and children’s education.

If pressed on the Canadian Forces Housing Differential:

  • The new Canadian Forces Housing Differential has been developed to ensure that those Canadian Armed Forces members who most require support are prioritized.
  • The new policy will replace the Post Living Differential is specific to housing costs rather than overall cost of living.
  • Most members’ salaries allow for affordable housing in the majority of Canadian posting locations.
  • However, this policy will bridge the gap for those who, based on their salaries, have a difficult time affording basic housing in high-cost locations in Canada, such as Victoria.
  • Investing in our people is the most important commitment we can make.
  • Part of that effort is ensuring that no CAF member is unable to afford housing costs in the geographical region of their military posting.

Key Facts

Compensation and benefits include:

  • Canadian Forces Housing Differential (housing allowance based on salary and location; this will replace the Post Living Differential on July 1, 2023);
  • Environmental Allowances for austere working conditions;
  • Maternity Top-Up ( 93% of income for up to 15 weeks)
  • Paternity Parental Top-Up (93% of income for 35 weeks or 55.8% for up to 61 weeks);
  • Family medical and dental insurance coverage (Public Service Programs); and,
  • Canadian Armed Forces members are eligible to apply for military housing in many posting locations.
    • National Defence maintains and operates over 11,000 residential housing units at 27 locations.
  • In addition to being eligible for military housing, the CAF offers members a number of benefits for relocation anywhere in Canada, including reimbursing legal and real estate fees.


Canadian Forces Housing Differential (CFHD)

  • The CFHD will replace the PLD and will take effect on July 1, 2023.
  • The CFHD is TBS-mandated, and the result of significant deliberation by the DND, CAF and TBS to establish a policy that respects the allotted annual budget for this differential, while focusing on assisting those CAF members who require housing assistance most.
  • The CFHD is focused on lower-salaried members in exceptionally expensive locations, such as Victoria and Toronto.

Post Living Differential (PLD)

  • The PLD allowance was intended to moderate the impacts associated with moving to a higher cost of living area. PLD allowance was separate from pay.
  • The purpose of the PLD was to ensure that the cost of living for CAF members was maintained at a predictable level, no matter where they were posted within Canada. PLD rates were taxable and were to be set annually based on a Treasury Board-approved methodology. 
  • In April 2009, the Government of Canada froze PLD rates at their 2008 levels to undertake a comprehensive review with Treasury Board Secretariat to ensure the PLD was meeting the needs of today’s CAF members.

February 2021 Pay Increase

  • The pay increase applied to general service officers, pilots, medical and dental officers at the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and below, as well as all non-commissioned members.

Funding to improve Canadian Armed Forces access to housing

  • Funding will go towards:
    • 12 units in Comox, British Columbia (ready for occupancy as quarters by summer 2023);
    • 14 units in Shilo, Manitoba (eight will be ready for occupancy by early 2023).
    • Plans are underway to begin constructing at other locations where the requirement is greatest. Construction is planned at: CFB Borden, CFB Esquimalt, CFB Kingston, 8 Wing Trenton, and 3rd Canadian Division Support Base Edmonton.

Housing benefits provided to Canadian Armed Forces members

  • Reimbursement for legal fees, and real estate fees related to relocation.
  • Shipping and related expenses of household goods and effects are part of the relocation services provided to members through a contract – members can use discretionary funding to ship specialty items.
  • A full suite of benefits exists for members who sell and buy residences, including temporary dual residency reimbursement of expenses, incentives for not selling, home equity assistance, mortgage interest differential, and mortgage default insurance.
  • If challenges are encountered while selling or buying a home, or the family needs more time to adjust, the CAF member can move to the new location unaccompanied with lodging covered for the member for at least six months, and potentially longer if authorized.

Shelter charge (rent) adjustments

  • CAF members who wish to rent a home have the option of renting in the private sector or from the Department of National Defence (DND).
  • DND’s Crown-housing is provided as an alternative for CAF members to consider for their personal living accommodation solution, and currently serves 16% of the CAF population.
  • The Canadian Forces Housing Agency (CFHA) was created to manage, maintain and allocate residential housing on behalf of DND, in support of CAF members.
  • The Government of Canada and DND require CFHA to review and determine whether DND housing requires a change in the shelter charge (rents) to reflect fluctuations in the local rental markets, and apply a residential shelter charge adjustment annually.
  • This process may result in either an increase, a decrease, or no change in the monthly shelter charge for DND housing, and helps to ensure fairness and equity for CAF members and their families, regardless of whether they choose to live in the private sector or DND housing.
  • Since 2014, CFHA has reviewed shelter charges annually and adjusted the rates using Statistics Canada’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) – the Rented Accommodation CPI for the provinces. For Yellowknife and Iqaluit, CFHA will use the Canada Rent Consumer Price Index percentage change of 3.14% for the annual adjustment.
  • For 2023-2024, the national average rent increase for DND residential housing units will be 3.1%, representing approximately $25 per month with rent control limits applied.
  • CFHA must provide written notification of shelter charge changes to occupants of DND housing at least three months before the new rates take effect. New rates are effective on April 1, so occupants are notified of shelter charge adjustments by letter no later than the end of December each year. 
  • Each year, CFHA aims to ensure that the maximum amount of revenue from shelter charge (rents) is reinvested into the operation, improvement and maintenance of housing units at Bases and Wings across the country.

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