Sexual Misconduct and Culture Change
- My top priority as Minister of National Defence is to foster a healthy, inclusive, and respectful workplace where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.
- This work will make our entire Defence Team stronger and our military forces more operationally effective and combat ready to step in during times of crisis.
- Across the Defence Team, we are prioritizing work through three lines of effort: support to survivors, justice and accountability and culture change.
- For example, the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre is expanding its services and will continue to develop programs and improve processes to meet the needs of those affected by sexual misconduct.
- We are also incorporating and measuring inclusive behaviours through the respective performance management processes for military members and public service employees.
- Critical to all our work on culture change is the continued consultation and engagement of members of the Defence Team and external partners and stakeholders.
- We are prioritizing efforts that will have an impact on our culture in the short-term, while planning for change in the long-term, all of which will be informed by Madame Arbour’s upcoming review.
- Budget 2021 allocated $236.2M in funding (over the next five years) to eliminate sexual misconduct and gender-based violence in the military and support survivors.
- The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC) offers the following services to Canadian Armed Forces members, Department of National Defence public servants, and former Canadian Armed Forces members:
- A 24/7 support line where clients can receive bilingual and confidential support, information, and referrals from public service counsellors.
- The Response and Support Coordination program which provides ongoing support, accompaniment, advocacy, and personalized case management services by Response and Support coordinators.
- The 24/7 support line and Response and Support Coordination program have been expanded as follows:
- Hiring additional counsellors to manage the expected increase in calls to the 24/7 support line;
- Purchasing additional licenses for the Virtual Call Centre needed for the added counsellors;
- Expanding the footprint 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; and
- Hiring staff for the regional expansion (ongoing).
- The SMRC’s toll-free support line number is 1-844-750-1648.
- For fiscal year 2021-2022, as of 26 January 2022, 1,114 total contacts have been made to the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre.
- Justice Arbour: Currently conducting a review of National Defence to identify the causes for the continued presence of harassment and sexual misconduct within the organization.
- Justice Arbour provided interim recommendations to National Defence on October 20, 2021.
- Building on recommendation 68 of the Justice Fish report, Justice Arbour recommends that “all sexual assaults and other criminal offences of a sexual nature under the Criminal Code, including historical sexual offences, alleged to have been perpetrated by a CAF member, past or present (‘sexual offences’) should be referred to civilian authorities.”
- The final Arbour report is expected to be delivered to National Defence in the spring of 2022.
- Bill C-77 has been implemented with a Coming into Force date of June 20, 2022.
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.
- This work will make our entire Defence Team stronger and our military forces more operationally effective and combat ready.
- I am pleased to report that we will launch a new retention strategy in 2022 to retain members, including from underrepresented groups.
- This will be complemented by efforts to maximize the staffing of recruiting centres and training schools, while redesigning basic training with a focus on professional values, resilience, and military skills to build more inclusive teams.
- Additionally, National Defence is reviewing its training at every level to ensure we remain ready to excel at operations at home and abroad.
- Through these efforts, we will create a diverse, modern, and agile Canadian Armed Forces that will attract talented Canadians for years to come.
If pressed on recruitment and retention of women:
- We understand that military service places unique demands on families and women.
- That is why we recently announced new options for compassionate family-related leave, as well as measures to enhance women’s health care.
- We are also conducting focused engagement activities with communities across Canada to increase enrolment of women in the Defence Team.
- Additionally, we are prioritizing women applicants for all CAF enrollment programs, including at military colleges.
- Since February, we have also made our ranks more inclusive: French versions of all ranks now have official feminine equivalents, so that members can be addressed in a way that they feel best represents their gender identity.
If pressed on vaccination challenges:
- The vaccination mandate is intended to protect the Canadian Armed Forces and it is vital to maintaining operational readiness.
- Each case will be subject to a procedurally fair review before a decision is made.
- In 2021-2022 (as of March 8, 2022) 6,891 individuals joined the Regular Force and Primary Reserve, 15.98% of whom were women.
- 2020-2021 intake: 4,262 individuals.
- 2019-2020 intake: 10,270 individuals.
- The Canadian Armed Forces’ Regular Force needs ~ 6,600 Regular Force members to meet the operational readiness target.
- ~ 6,300 persons per year must be recruited and trained to account for annual attrition forecast.
- Canadian Armed Forces Employment Equity Plan 2021-2026 recognizes the LGBTQ2+ community as a designated group.
- New promotion and selection process: National GO/FO selection boards now feature procedural improvements including mandating that one voting member be from an Employment Equity group.
- Ongoing recruitment initiatives:
- Targeted engagement with communities across Canada to increase representation of under-represented groups.
- Programs to increase Indigenous representation.
- Prioritizing women applicants at military colleges and all CAF enrollment programs.
- The Canadian Armed Forces currently has a 98% vaccination rate.
- To date, 58 members have been released from the Canadian Armed Forces for non-compliance with a further 145 in the process of being finalized.
Hateful Conduct, Discrimination, and Racism
- There is no place on the Defence Team for hateful conduct, racism, or discrimination.
- That is why we are taking concrete action across the Defence Enterprise to root out harmful behaviour that is incompatible with our ethics and values, and undermines the organization’s operational effectiveness.
- This includes soon publishing the new ethos Trusted to Serve, which will better outline the professional expectations for our members.
- In addition, the Commanders of the Canadian Army, Navy, and Air Force have issued specific hateful conduct orders that provide direction on how to prevent, detect, and respond to hateful conduct within the ranks.
- We have also developed a tracking system to ensure the Defence Team has the capability to identify and track any suspected incidents.
- We remain committed to creating a workplace that is free of hateful conduct, racism, and discrimination so that all members of the Defence Team feel safe, protected, and respected.
If Pressed on Anti-Racism Secretariat and Advisory Panel:
- We created the Anti-Racism Secretariat to support National Defence Leadership in their efforts to address systemic racism and discrimination.
- This Secretariat also supports the Minister’s Advisory Panel on Systemic Racism and Discrimination through identifying and proposing solutions to systemic barriers, and promoting culture change.
- The Panel delivered its final report and recommendations to address the policies, processes, and practices that enable discriminatory behaviours within National Defence, which I have reviewed and shared with Senior Leadership. The final report will be released before the end of April.
- July 2020: CAF introduced policy providing direction on how to address incidents of hateful conduct.
- This policy includes an Incident Tracking System.
- February 28, 2022: A total of 273 alleged incidents (dating back to 1997) are currently being tracked in the Hateful Conduct Incident Tracking System.
- Hateful conduct incidents:
- Three individuals are being investigated as a result of a number of events that took place in 2022 on a Basic Training Course at Naval Fleet School (Pacific) in Victoria, and one individual is being released from the military.
- Ex-reservist Patrik Mathews was a recruiter for The Base, an extremist group. In October 2021, a U.S. judge sentenced him to nine years in prison for his role in a neo-Nazi plot.
- 4th Canadian Rangers Patrol Group Cases:
- On July 2, 2020, Corey Hurren crashed the gates at Rideau Hall with a loaded firearm and issued threats against the Prime Minister. MCpl Hurren was officially released on March 5, 2021.
- On August 25, 2020, CBC reported that Erik Myggland was previously investigated for his involvement in far-right organizations but he was allowed to continue serving in the Canadian Armed Forces without interruption. MCpl Myggland was officially released on March 17, 2021.
- Release proceedings were completed in January 2021 for Sailor First Class Boris Mihajlovic, who was the former administrator of a neo-Nazi forum.
Health Resources and Services for CAF Women
- We recognize that women in the Canadian Armed Forces have unique health needs and that tailored resources and services must be available to support their health and well-being.
- That is why we are taking concrete steps to make our health resources and services more inclusive for women.
- For example, women members often face challenges related to accessible and private spaces to pump breast milk.
- For this reason, we are making private lactation spaces available for members who wish to pump or nurse while on duty.
- Additionally, to ensure that pregnant members have uniforms in which they can comfortably and safely perform their duties, we have implemented a new reimbursement program for maternity and nursing uniform shirts.
- New types of compassionate leave also enable members to take leave for situations of pregnancy or adoption loss, as well as family violence.
- We are committed to continue working with our women members to identify the gaps and needs in our current health care system, and take action to address them.
If Pressed on Total Health and Wellness Strategy:
- In keeping with these important initiatives, the Total Health and Wellness Strategy, released on March 4, 2022, includes a Women’s Health Framework for the first time.
- This Framework enhances access to care and services, and helps educate all Canadian Armed Forces members on women’s health care in the military context.
- This includes ensuring operational planning takes into consideration the health needs of women while on deployment.
- The Total Health and Wellness Strategy brings together and builds upon existing health and wellness strategies, programs, and services, and lays the foundation for a more comprehensive approach to health and well-being that takes into account factors both inside and outside the workplace.
- National Defence has begun work to establish the Women’s Health / Health Care for Diversity Core Team, which will advance health care initiatives for women and gender diverse members.
- The Women’s Health Framework involves four lines of effort:
- Health care;
- Illness and injury prevention;
- Research and engagement; and,
- Quality and performance assessment.
- The Women’s Health Framework aims to provide:
- Enhanced access to care and services informed by best practices related to women’s health care;
- Research dedicated to women’s general health, well-being and performance and how these are influenced by military occupations and demands;
- A robust quality and performance measurement process to monitor the results of these initiatives; and,
- Mission-specific health service support considerations, including treatment options.
Mental Health and Suicide
- Military service places unique demands on our brave personnel in uniform.
- That is why National Defence offers a wide range of programs and services to meet the needs of our civilian and military 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.
- We are committed to ensuring our military personnel 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.
- 31 out of 37 Canadian Armed Forces healthcare clinics offer specialized in-house mental health care.
- All 37 clinics have continued providing primary care and other clinical services during the pandemic.
- 7 Operational Trauma and Stress Support Centres: Provide assistance to serving members and their families dealing with stress or injury arising from military operations.
- Canadian Forces Health Services recently hired a psychologist who is dedicated to suicide prevention.
- Mental health readiness training is now a consistent part of a military member’s career, including during Basic Training.
- The number for the Canadian Armed Forces Member Assistance Program is 1-800-268-7708.
- This program is a 24/7 bilingual telephone and face-to-face service that is voluntary, confidential, and available to CAF members and their families who have personal concerns that affect their well-being and/or work performance.
- In 2020, there were 14 deaths by suicide in the Regular Force, and 2 in the Reserve Force.
- 2019: 17 deaths by suicide in the Regular Force, and 3 in the Reserve Force
- The collection and analysis of the 2021 suicide numbers is being finalized and will be available in the Annual Suicide Mortality later this year.
- Civilian DND employees have 24/7 access to the Employee Assistance Program including crisis and suicide intervention.
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, and the intense operational tempo of recent years have compounded these challenges for our members.
- That is why we have taken action to increase support for our members and reduce stress on them and their families.
- For example, we took steps to reduce the number of relocations and extended the time permitted for relocation, as well as reimbursing unexpected expenses arising from COVID-19.
- Additionally, the Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services provides resources to help our members and their families navigate postings, such as finding child care, health care and children’s education.
If Pressed on Compensation:
- We also continually monitor and review the Canadian Armed Forces benefits and pay rates to help ensure all members are well compensated for their service to Canada.
- In February 2021, the Government increased military members’ rates of pay to ensure alignment with increases received by the Federal Public Service.
- This pay increase applies to general service officers at the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and below and will help ensure the attraction and retention of the highest standard of personnel.
Compensation and benefits include:
- Post Living Differential (cost-of-living allowance);
- Environmental Allowances for austere working conditions;
- Maternity/Paternity Parental Top-Up (to 93% of income for 12 months);
- Family medical and dental coverage (Public Service Programs);
- Canadian Armed Forces members have access to Military Housing in many posting locations.
Bilingualism in the CAF
- Bilingualism is a cornerstone of our national identity and is an asset to the Defence Team’s operational effectiveness.
- That is why National Defence continues to foster the use of both French and English in our daily operations.
- This includes providing French and English training to Canadian Armed Forces members through programs and services across Canada.
- Every year, our bilingual facilities in St-Jean offer training in both official languages on academics, military leadership and physical fitness.
- We also provide services in both languages to members and their families to support their well-being as they progress throughout their career.
- National Defence will continue working to promote bilingualism within its ranks to leverage the diversity and expertise of all Canadians.
- Total bilingual Canadian Armed Forces organisations/units: 336.
- This includes 180 bilingual organisations/units in unilingual regions.
- 2017: National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces published the Official Languages Strategy and 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.
Heyder-Beattie Privacy Breach
- National Defence takes the issue of individual privacy seriously.
- I was deeply disturbed by the privacy breach of claimants’ personal information by Epiq, the independent court appointed administrator for the Heyder-Beattie class action lawsuit.
- Epiq informed us that the disclosure did not include any details on, or the nature of, any claims.
- We have requested that Epiq takes urgent and meaningful steps to ensure that this matter is contained, resolved, and will not happen again.
- Given the importance of the Heyder-Beattie agreement, every step will be taken to safeguard personal sensitive information.
- National Defence is exploring various options, in collaboration with Epiq and various other stakeholders, to minimize the potential future risk related to the protection of personal information.
- We admire the courage it takes for our members, past and present, to come forward and report their experiences and we will work diligently to protect their private information.
If pressed on what is being done to ensure the personal information of claimants is safe:
- We are assessing our options to ensure that Epiq takes appropriate measures in responding to these privacy breaches, and that they guarantee the security of their claims administration process.
- In February and March 2022, National Defence was informed by Epiq of the privacy breach occurrences.
- February 8, 2022: National Defence was informed by Epiq of privacy breach occurrences in Epiq’s processing of claims that occurred on two separate occasions in January and February 2022.
- February 24, 2022: Epiq informed National Defence of a privacy breach occurrence in November 2021.
- March 10, 2022: Following a preliminary internal investigation by Epiq, National Defence was informed that there may have been as many as an additional fifteen privacy breach occurrences in the previous year. In total, Epiq now states that 107 claimants have been affected.
- Epiq explained to National Defence that only the first and last names, email addresses, and claimant identification numbers of 91 individuals were released to two separate claimants.
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