Recruitment, Retention, and 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.
  • We are also modernizing our recruitment initiatives, online presence, and services, including new online customer service tools, to focus our recruitment efforts and improve the recruiting process.
  • Additionally, the Canadian Armed Forces 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 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 CAF.
  • 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 designations of ranks now have official Gender Inclusive equivalents, so that members can be addressed in a way that they feel best represents their gender identity.
  • Dress instructions have also been updated to be gender-inclusive.

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 been fully vaccinated.
  • 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 31, 2022) 8,060 individuals joined the Regular Force and Primary Reserve, 15.6% of whom were women.
    • 2020-2021 intake: 4,262 individuals.
    • 2019-2020 intake: 10,270 individuals.
  • The Canadian Armed Forces’ Regular Force needs an additional ~6,500 Regular Force members to meet the operational readiness target.
  • It is projected that we must recruit and train between 6,300 and 6,800 persons per year to account for annual attrition and support healthy growth.
  • 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 April 1, 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.

Spousal Employment:

  • To improve spousal employment opportunities and improve CAF member retention, National Defence has:
    • Expanded the Military Spouse Employment Inventory to support hiring by National Defence and other government departments, and to include professional occupations; and
    • Identified military spousal employment as an organizational priority, so that National Defence hiring managers now have the option to consider military spouses ahead of most other applicants for externally advertised positions.

Women in Force Program:

  • The Women in Force Program helps raise awareness about life in the CAF and gives women the opportunity to speak with current CAF members while experiencing different facets of a military lifestyle.
  • Plans to run the program were put on hold due to the pandemic. The intent is to reinvigorate the program prior to the end of the 2022/23 fiscal year.

Vaccination Rates:

  • Canadian Armed Forces vaccination rates as of May 11, 2022 (among Regular Force and eligible Reserve Force):
    • 96% have received at least one dose
    • 95% have received at least two doses
    • 64% have received all three doses (full primary series + booster)
  • As of April 19, 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.
    • There have been 61 religious accommodations, 14 certified medical accommodations and 6 accommodations classified as other. 

Mental Health and Suicide

  • National Defence offers a wide range of programs and services to meet the needs of CAF 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.
  • National Defence public service employees and their family members have 24/7 access to the Employee Assistance Program.
  • This includes short-term counselling services, as well as access to a peer support network trained in suicide intervention and other life-saving skills.
  • We are committed to ensuring our military personnel and public service 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.
  • National Defence recently released the Total Health and Wellness Strategy, which supports health and resilience in the workforce and promotes a culture of healthy behaviour.

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 and the Employee Assistance Program is 1-800-268-7708.
  • These programs offer 24/7 bilingual telephone and face-to-face short-term counselling services that are voluntary, confidential, and available to CAF members and public service employees, as well as their families, who have personal or work-related concerns that affect their well-being.
  • Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS) is a joint program between National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada, created by CAF personnel and their family members who experienced the first-hand effects of an operational stress injury. It is a confidential, non-clinical, peer-based, social support program that helps individuals return to a healthier quality of life.


  • 2020: Per the 2021 Report on Suicide Mortality in the CAF report, there were 14 deaths by suicide in the Regular Force.
  • The collection and analysis of the 2021 numbers is ongoing and will be available in the 2022 Suicide Mortality report in early 2023.

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 Team 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 CAF Ethos: Trusted to Serve, which will expand and outline ethical principles, military values, and professional expectations for members.
  • The Commanders of the Canadian Army, Navy, and Air Force have also issued specific hateful conduct orders that provide direction on how to prevent, detect, and respond to hateful conduct within the ranks.
  • In addition, we have stood up a dedicated group under the Canadian Forces National Investigative Service to investigate cases related to hateful conduct and extremism.
  • National Defence has also developed a tracking system to ensure the Defence Team has the capability to identify and track any reported alleged 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 on April 25, 2022.
  • National Defence established a working group to examine the issues raised by the Advisory Panel on Systemic Racism and Discrimination Panel, and develop an action plan.
  • 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

  • The Chief of Military Personnel updated DAOD 5019 in July 2020 to expand the definition of hateful conduct and issued a “Canadian Forces Military Personnel Instruction” that same year to outline how hateful conduct would be addressed within the CAF.
  • This Instruction is currently being updated to refine the definition and define a continuum related to hateful conduct escalation of behavior, as well as include a decision-making structure and improve hateful conduct reporting processes.
  • Minister’s Advisory Panel: 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.
  • Anti-Racism Staffing Taskforce: In October 2020, National Defence established an Anti-Racism Staffing Taskforce specifically to examine and address systemic barriers to recruitment and the staffing regime in the Department.
  • July 2020: CAF introduced policy providing direction on how to address incidents of hateful conduct.
    • This policy includes an Incident Tracking System.
  • As of April 30, 2022: A total of 278 alleged incidents (dating back to 1997) are currently being tracked in the Hateful Conduct Incident Tracking System.
  • Screening of CAF Potential Recruits: Criminal records checks are conducted to determine if potential recruits have been charged or convicted of a crime, and this information is reviewed to assess suitability for enrolment.
    • Reference checks are conducted to help determine whether potential recruits’ character, values, and ethics align with those of the CAF.
    • This also includes screening for affiliation with extremist organizations through visible signs such as tattoos.
  • Hateful Conduct, Extremism, Drug and Gang Enforcement (HEDGE): On 2 February 2021, the Canadian Forces National Investigative Service stood up HEDGE.
    • The Canadian Forces National Investigative Service HEDGE investigates serious and sensitive offences related to hateful conduct, extremism, drug trafficking, and gang enforcement, including members of Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs that have a National Defence nexus.


Anti-Racism Advisory Panel Report:

  • The Anti-Racism Secretariat has examined shared lived experiences of racism and discrimination in the Defence Team, and developed a report that identifies recommendations to address Defence Team members’ evolving experiences of institutional racism in DND/CAF.
  • The Anti-Racism Secretariat has also launched Raise Your Voice, a learning platform that enables the education and awareness of Defence Team members through conversations on their lived experiences, as means to identify and address racism and discrimination within DND/CAF.
  • The Anti-Racism Secretariat will soon launch a suite of tools and a resource hub which offers information to stimulate ongoing dialogue to support Defence Team members rise to the challenges of addressing systemic racism and bias.
  • The Minister’s Advisory Panel on systemic racism and discrimination published their final report on April 25, 2022. The report addresses issues and provides recommendations for change in 13 areas across the organization—from policy and program areas, to governance and accountability, to recruitment and retention, to education and awareness.
  • A comprehensive implementation Framework and Action Plan will be developed to address the Advisory Panel report recommendations and synchronize efforts with the broader Culture Change Strategy currently in development by the Chief, Professional Conduct and Culture.

Military Chaplains:

  • The report also made several recommendations to National Defence related to the CAF Chaplaincy, including not employing Chaplains who are affiliated with religious groups whose values are not aligned with the Defence Team.
  • The Royal Canadian Chaplain Service’s primary goal is the care of all our members and their families, without exceptions.
  • The Royal Canadian Chaplain Service, embracing CAF values and ethos, has taken significant steps in the past several years to promote change from within, and to strengthen its commitment to diversity and inclusion.
  • Each and every CAF chaplain cares for all, irrespective of the faith tradition of the individual chaplain, and works to support all Defence Team members and CAF families, recognizing the equality and dignity of all people, regardless of ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, sex, or gender expression. Adhering to CAF values and the principle of Care for All, without exception, is at the heart of what every chaplain brings to the Defence Team as a whole.
  • As of 2019, in order to better serve the CAF and represent the religious/spiritual diversity of Canadian society, the RCChS sought to include a wider number of traditions not previously represented in CAF Chaplaincy. This resulted in the enrollment of chaplains from the Sikh and Buddhist traditions.
  • The RCChS has engaged in a sustained effort over the past three years aimed at addressing the spiritual needs of the growing number of CAF members who have no religious affiliation. To this end, the RCChS has worked to facilitate the inclusion of humanist chaplains.
  • To further promote diversity and inclusion, the RCChS has instituted several advisor positions (Indigenous Advisor, LGBTQ2+ Advisor, Anti-Racism and Anti-Discrimination Advisor, GENAD, CPCC) in an effort to raise awareness, educate, and innovate.
Regular Force Reserve Force
Faith Tradition Faith Tradition
Roman Catholic 68 Roman Catholic 25
Churches of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada 43 Anglican 21
Baptist 42 Baptist 18
Anglican 32 Churches of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada 18
United Church of Canada 20 United Church of Canada 15
Lutheran 15 Presbyterian 9
Presbyterian 14 Lutheran 8
Muslim 9 Orthodox 6
Buddhist 1 Jewish 3
Jewish 3 Ukrainian Catholic Church 2
Ukrainian Catholic Church 3 Muslim 1
Disciples of Christ 1 - -
Humanist 1 - -
Orthodox 1 - -
Sikh 1 - -
Unitarian Universalist 1    
Total Chaplains RegF 255 Total Chaplains PRes 126

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 was 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.

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 is currently drafting a new policy that will better align our Official Languages program with the requirements of the Official Languages Act.
  • New directives on linguistic identification of positions will soon be published, allowing us to objectively determine the language requirements of all departmental positions and contributing directly to respecting the linguistic rights of our personnel.
  • We also provide services in both languages to members and their families to facilitate access and 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.
  • Language of Work/Language of Service Policy: This policy will integrate and formalize the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs recommendations to provide appropriate language services to our CAF members and their families.
  • Directives on Linguistic Identification of Positions: Recently, National Defence published an updated Directive on Linguistic Identification of DND positions, and there will soon be a CAF Mil Pers Instruction on Linguistic Identification of CAF positions to objectively determine the language requirements of all departmental positions.
    • This is all in support of our Language of Work/Language of Service policy work.

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, in 2021/2022, we began allocating $40 million dollars per year for 10 years to be invested in the National Defence residential housing program.
  • Starting in 2022/2023, we have allocated an additional $15 million dollars per year for 3 years, which means that we will be investing $55 million dollars in residential housing for CAF members.
  • This includes renovation projects to ensure the existing 11,540 housing units are functional and suitable.
  • Some of this funding will also go towards constructing new housing units at Bases and Wings over the next several years, including CFB Comox, CFB Shilo, and CFB Dundurn.
  • In addition, 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, pilots, medical and dental officers at the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and below, and all non-commissioned members.
  • It 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 Post Living Differential benefit to offset the cost of living at various locations in Canada.

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 (93% of income for 12 months or 55.8% for up to 18 months);
  • Family medical and dental insurance coverage (Public Service Programs); and,
  • 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.
  • In addition to housing access for members, the CAF is offering them a number of benefits for relocation anywhere in Canada, including reimbursing legal and real estate fees.

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