Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC)

  • My top priority is to ensure that our members are protected from systemic misconduct and are able to work in an environment where they can reach their full potential and contribute meaningfully to the defence of Canada.  
  • That is why I accepted Mme. Arbour’s final report in its entirety and the Defence Team will immediately begin work, and continue work already ongoing, to implement one third of the recommendations.
  • This involves important refinements to the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC) including renaming the Centre, maintaining its independence, and revising its role to primarily provide resources for complainants and survivors.
  • The SMRC is also coordinating a Restorative Engagement program for members of the National Defence Heyder-Beattie Class Action, which will enable our organization to hear from and learn from the experiences of class members.
  • In addition to this ongoing work, National Defence is requesting $7.5 million in these Estimates to expand the reach and services of Sexual Assault Centres across Canada and to further develop SMRC programs for those affected by sexual misconduct.

If pressed on the independence of the SMRC:

  • The SMRC reports through the Deputy Minister and is independent from the Canadian Armed Forces chain of command.
  • The SMRC continues to play a key role in supporting current and former CAF members, as well as DND public service employees, who have experienced sexual misconduct.
  • The Centre also provides National Defence with subject matter expertise, and guides and monitors institutional efforts to address sexual misconduct.

Key Facts

  • Funds ($7.5 M) requested in these Main Estimates will allow SMRC to:
    • Provide ongoing support services to more individuals within the broader Defence community, by decentralizing the Response and Support Coordination program to locations across Canada.
    • Expand resources to regional requirements, including increasing or decreasing the number of staff allocated to a region, and adjusting training budgets to target specific needs identified in a region.
    • Continue to further develop programs and improve processes to meet the needs of those affected by sexual misconduct.
  • Budget 2022 provides $100.5 million over six years, starting in 2021-22, with $1.7 million in remaining amortization, and $16.8 million ongoing to:
    • Strengthen leadership in the Canadian Armed Forces;
    • Modernize the military justice system;
    • Bring into force the Declaration of Victims’ Rights;
    • Undertake engagement and consultation on culture change; and,
    • Enhance restorative services, including dispute resolution and coaching services.

IECR recommendations related to the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC)

  • #12: The SMRC’s name should be changed to Sexual Misconduct Resource Centre.
  • #13: The SMRC should be reinforced as primarily a resource centre, with adequate expertise and capacity, solely for complainants, victims and survivors of sexual misconduct.
  • #14: The SMRC should ensure that it can facilitate immediate access to legal assistance to victims of sexual misconduct. Such legal assistance must be available across the country and on the full range of issues related to sexual misconduct in the CAF, including in respect of the various processes triggered by disclosure. To do so, the SMRC should compile a roster of civilian lawyers able to provide such services and ensure that they are properly trained to do so. The SMRC should also prepare a schedule of fees for such services, and provide for direct payment to the lawyers.
  • #15: The ownership of training and prevention of sexual misconduct should be transferred to the Chief of Professional Conduct and Culture (CPCC). The CPCC should continue to consult the SMRC on the development of program content, delivery and methods of evaluation for sexual misconduct, but the SMRC should not be engaged in actual program delivery or monitoring.
  • #16: The monitoring of the CAF’s effectiveness in responding to sexual misconduct should be removed from the SMRC’ mandate. Instead, the SMRC should be required to refer concerns in that regard to the ADM(Review Services). The SMRC should be empowered to direct the ADM(Review Services) to conduct an administrative investigation into matters relevant to its mandate.
  • #17: The SMRC should remain within the National Defence and continue to report to the Deputy Minister.
  • #18: The administrative structure of the SMRC should be reviewed in order to increase its independence, effectiveness and proper place in the Defence Team.
  • #19: The EAC’s role, composition and governance should be reviewed. It should be composed of external experts and advocates for victims and survivors, with adequate representation of equity seeking and minority groups who are disproportionately affected by sexual misconduct. It should publish an annual report to provide an external perspective on the evolution of the SMRC’s role and performance
  • #43: The Executive Director, SMRC should be able to independently direct the ADM(Review Services) to conduct an administrative investigation into matters relevant to the SMRC’s mandate.

Background: The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC)

  • The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC) offers the following services to Canadian Armed Forces members, Department of National Defence public service employees, 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 by end of June 2022, 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.

Declaration of Victims’ Rights

  • June 20, 2022: The remaining provisions of Bill C-77, including the Declaration of Victims’ Rights, will come into force this month.

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 Estimates, we are requesting $338 million for financial compensation, administration and support for the claims process, and policy measures to implement 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 safe, 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 17 May, 2022, a total of 10,186 claims have been approved for initial payment and/or paid.
  • All parties are working to ensure that the court ordered payout deadline of January 2023 is met.

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 5 years for National Defence to implement the Restorative Engagement program within the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre.
    • On 13 December 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 military service and/or employment for the Department of National Defence or Staff of Non-Public Funds.
  • The agreement provides claimants with:
    • Financial compensation;
    • Payments to 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 Canadian Armed Forces.
  • Restorative Engagement Program:
    • This program 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 Response Centre restorative practitioners.
    • The program 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

  • National Defence recognizes that Canadian Armed Forces members have unique health needs and require timely, quality health care services wherever they are deployed.
  • That is why we are requesting $26.2 million in these 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.

Supporting CAF Women Health and Wellness:

  • To support women members’ unique health needs, the CAF is doing the following:
    • Making private lactation spaces available for members who wish to pump or nurse while on duty;
    • Implementing a reimbursement program for maternity and nursing uniform T-shirts; and,
    • Releasing a Total Health and Wellness Strategy, which includes a Women’s Health Framework.
  • These initiatives support better mental health outcomes and access to physical health supports as part of CAF women’s overall health and wellness.
  • The Total Health and Wellness Strategy was released on
    March 4, 2022.
  • It 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.
  • 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 and/or evacuation to the next most appropriate level of care.
  • 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 Canadian Armed Forces has also established new 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.

Gender-Based Violence (Funding – Budget 2021)

  • National Defence is committed to preventing and addressing gender-based violence in the Defence Team, including against women, LGBTQ2+, gender diverse, and gender non-conforming people.
  • To advance these efforts, we are working closely with Women and Gender Equality Canada to address sexual misconduct and gender-based violence in the military, and to support survivors.
  • In these Estimates, National Defence is requesting approximately $7.1 million in funding to implement four initiatives to prevent and address gender-based violence.
  • National Defence is implementing the following initiatives:
    • Conducting research on the prevention of sexual misconduct;
    • Providing independent legal advice to victims of sexual misconduct;
    • Developing a peer support pilot program to be jointly offered with Veterans Affairs Canada; and,
    • Expanding and revising the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre’s existing transfer payment program to provide more flexible access to funding for a range of community-based organizations.
  • These initiatives build on our ongoing efforts to foster a healthy and inclusive workplace, where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

Key Facts

  • Budget 2021: Provided National Defence $41.3 million over five years, beginning in fiscal year 2021-22, to implement four initiatives related to gender-based violence:
    • Conducting research on the prevention of sexual misconduct;
    • Providing responsive options for providing legal assistance to victims of sexual misconduct;
    • Developing a peer support pilot program to be jointly offered with Veterans Affairs Canada; and,
    • Expanding and revising the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre’s existing transfer payment program to provide more flexible access to funding for a range of community-based organizations.
  • MND Mandate Letter 2021: The Minister of National Defence will work to end discrimination, sexual misconduct and gender-based violence in the military in consultation with survivors, and with the support of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth.
  • WAGE Mandate Letter 2021: Support the Minister of National Defence in their work to end discrimination, sexual misconduct and gender-based violence in the military.
    • Move forward with the development of a 10-year National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, begin negotiations with the provinces and territories within a year, and accelerate the establishment of a dedicated Secretariat.
  • 2017: The Government announced It’s Time: Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence, a whole-of-government approach led by Women and Gender Equality Canada to encompass all federal initiatives to prevent, address and end gender-based violence in Canada.

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