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Culture Change

  • Institutional culture change requires a sustained effort by every member of the Defence Team to ensure our behaviours, attitudes and beliefs aligns with our values.
  • As part of this commitment to culture change, National Defence recently released The Path to Dignity and Respect, the Canadian Armed Forces Sexual Misconduct Response Strategy.
  • This plan was informed by research, consultations, and expert guidance, and focuses on concrete actions required to prevent and address sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces.
  • Broader conversations also need to take place at every level of the organization to build a more inclusive culture.
  • We are listening to and learning from those who have been affected by sexual misconduct, and we continue to refine our approach based on what we hear.
  • We need to ensure that anyone who has felt silenced or marginalized feels respected, seen, and heard.
  • Ultimately, our goal is to create a culture where all members of the Defence Team are treated with dignity and respect.

Key Facts

  • On October 28, 2020, National Defence launched: The Path to Dignity and Respect: The CAF Sexual Misconduct Response Strategy. The strategy includes:
    • A strategic approach to Cultural Alignment;
    • Six key guiding principles focused on addressing and preventing sexual misconduct
    • The Operation Honour Strategic Campaign Plan 2025; and
    • A performance measurement framework to measure, monitor, and report on Operation HONOUR.

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Diversity and Inclusion

  • National Defence is working to build a more diverse Defence Team that reflects and celebrates the uniqueness and strength of all Canadians.
  • We must also strive to build a more inclusive culture where everyone feels understood, valued, and respected.
  • That is why we are working with, and listening to all the diverse communities across the Defence Team.
  • This includes: Indigenous Peoples, women, visible minorities, persons with disabilities, and all members of the LGBTQ2+ community.
    • In 2020 alone, National Defence:
    • Launched the Defence Team Pride Network for LGBTQ2+ communities;
    • Established a Minister-level anti-racism Advisory Panel;
    • Updated our Positive Space Program;
    • Established an anti-racism secretariat;
    • Adopted gender-neutral designations of ranks in the Navy; and
    • Initiated gender-neutral evaluations for members of the CAF.
  • Ultimately, our goal is to create an environment where all members of the Defence Team are treated with dignity and respect.

Key Facts

  • In the Minister of National Defence’s Supplementary Mandate Letter, the Prime Minister highlighted the following key areas:
    • Continue to improve support for DND/CAF members to ensure a workplace characterized by professionalism, inclusion and valuing diversity;
    • Address systemic racism and gender-based discrimination and eliminate barriers, as well as to establish and maintain a workplace free from harassment, discrimination and violence;
    • Undertake ambitious efforts to increase diversity and facilitate the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples, Black and racialized Canadians, LGBTQ2 Canadians and persons with disabilities in DND/CAF; and
    • Continue work to achieve the goal of 25.1% Regular Force and Primary Reserve CAF members being women by 2026.


Women, visible minority, and indigenous representation in the CAF (regular force and primary reserve)

  Goal Current
(As of 4 Jan 2021)
Women 25.1% 16.1%
Minority 11.8% 9.6%
Indigenous 3.5% 2.8%

Diversity and Inclusion Training in the CAF

  • Personnel ranging from recruits on basic training to senior members on career courses across the country are regularly reminded that exemplary conduct is part of their obligations as CAF members.
    • Basic Diversity Training is conducted during basic training to educate new members on personal conduct policies such as:
    • CAF ethics and values;
    • harassment prevention and resolution;
    • personal conduct and relationships;
    • sexual misconduct;
    • sexual harassment; and
    • discriminatory and hateful conduct.

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Sexual Misconduct

  • Any form of sexual misconduct is unacceptable and will not be tolerated within the Defence Team.
  • That is why the CAF has implemented several foundational programs, policies, and practices to address sexual misconduct and provide support to those affected by it.
  • However, there is still much work to be done and we are committed to taking the necessary action to provide a workplace free of sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination.
  • As part of this commitment, National Defence recently released The Path to Dignity and Respect, the Canadian Armed Forces Sexual Misconduct Response Strategy.
  • The Path is a comprehensive culture change strategy that aims to both address and prevent sexual misconduct within our ranks.
  • Through all of these efforts, our primary focus continues to be providing support to those who are directly affected.
  • We are committed to addressing and preventing sexual misconduct in our organization and to fostering an environment where each member feels safe, supported, and heard.

Key Facts

  • November 18, 2020: Defence Administrative Order and Directive 9005-1 on Sexual Misconduct.
  • October 28, 2020: National Defence launches The Path to Dignity and Respect: The CAF Sexual Misconduct Response Strategy.
  • This strategy includes a performance measurement framework to measure, monitor, and report on Operation HONOUR.
  • This strategy directly addresses key recommendations made in the 2015 Deschamps Report and the Auditor General’s 2018 report.
  • 2015: The Chief of the Defence Staff launches Operation HONOUR to address sexual misconduct within the ranks and work towards cultural change.
  • 136 members have been released from the CAF for sexual misconduct (between April 2016 and December 2020).

2018 OAG report on Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour in the Canadian Armed Forces:

  • ADM(RS), in its role as independent advisor to the DM and CDS, will validate the implementation of the recommendations from the 2018 OAG report on Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour and the resulting Management Action Plan (MAP) items. 
  • The Canadian Armed Forces agreed with all report recommendations and has implemented the majority of the Management Action Plan (MAP) items.
    • The CAF continues to work to close all MAP items, with regular progress reporting the House Public Accounts Committee.
  • Scope of the audit: whether the CAF adequately responded to inappropriate sexual behavior, with a focus on progress made through Operation HONOUR.
  • Key Findings of the audit:
    • Evidence of increased awareness of inappropriate sexual behaviour and improved trust that the organization would effectively respond to incidents.
    • The duty to report discouraged some victims from disclosing or reporting an incident.
    • Cases were not always resolved in a timely, consistent and respectful manner.
    • Victim support services were not always easy to access, and not all providers had enough training to respond to victims.
    • Education and training offered did not address root causes of inappropriate behaviour.
    • The CAF did not adequately monitor the effectiveness of Operation HONOUR.



Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC)

  • Established in 2015 the SMRC is a centre of expertise that provides confidential 24/7, bilingual support services to Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members who have been affected by sexual misconduct. SMRC also provides advice to leaders and others who support affected members.
  • SMRC’s civilian counsellors provide confidential supportive counseling and information on available options and support services. Upon request, SMRC experts can also facilitate access to CAF and civilian resources, which may include mental and physical health services, counselling, law enforcement services, spiritual support, and assistance with administrative matters. SMRC does not receive or investigate reports, but can facilitate access to reporting should it be requested by an affected member.
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre’s services remain fully operational, although in-person accompaniment is on hold.

Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+)

  • As outlined in Canada’s Defence Policy Strong, Secure, Engaged, National Defence is committed to integrating GBA+ into all defence activities across the DND/CAF. GBA+ must be integrated into every step of National Defence programs, policies, projects, and operations.
  • GBA+ training is also central tenet of the training and education policy within Operation HONOUR, and GBA+ training is included in the mandatory training suite for all members of the Defence Team.

Heyder Beattie final Settlement Agreement:

  • The settlement was approved by the Federal Court on November 25, 2019, and provides:
    • A total of up to $900 million to current or former DND/CAF members who experienced sexual harassment, sexual assault, or discrimination based on sex, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation; and
    • The option to participate in a Restorative Engagement program, which will allow individuals to be heard and acknowledged by Defence Team leadership, to attempt to restore the relationship between class members and the CAF, and to contribute to culture change within the Defence Team. 

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Deschamps Report Recommendations

  • In 2015, Justice Deschamps conducted a review regarding the effectiveness of CAF policies, procedures, and programs in relation to sexual harassment and sexual assault.
  • Justice Deschamps’ recommendations focused largely on:
    • Increasing support for victims, without requiring them to report;
    • Establishing an independent centre for accountability for sexual misconduct;
    • Developing clear policies and guidance on sexual misconduct and adverse personal relationships; and,
    • Creating a strategy to effect culture change.
  • To address these recommendations, National Defence created policies and directives informed by research, expert guidance, consultations, and data.
  • For example, National Defence established the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre, independent from the chain of command, to support victims 24/7.
  • We have also established six Sexual Offence Response Teams operated by the Military Police to support victims of sexual misconduct and ensure timely, professional investigations.
  • Most recently, in November 2020, National Defence released The Path to Dignity and Respect which seeks to promote real culture change within the organization.
  • We continue to listen to and learn from those who have been affected by sexual misconduct to ensure culture change within the Defence team is meaningful and ongoing.

Key Facts

  • National Defence is working to validate the implementation of all 10 of the Deschamps report’s recommendations.
  • ADM(RS), in its role as independent advisor to the DM and CDS, will validate the implementation of the recommendations from the Deschamps Report and the resulting management action plans.  
  • Once completed, the validation results will be presented to the Defence Audit Committee in the coming months.
  •  Key dates:
    • Spring 2014: Independent external review commissioned by the CDS
    • July 2014: The Honourable Marie Deschamps, a former Supreme Court of Canada Justice, was asked to conduct the review
    • 27 March 2015: Report delivered to the CDS
    • 30 April 2015: Report released to both external and internal audiences
  • The report’s key findings:
    • Existence of a sexualized culture within the organization;
    • Low representation of women at senior leadership level;
    • A perception that the Chain of Command condones sexually inappropriate conduct;
    • Lack of sanctions, accountability, and trust;
    • Under-reporting by victims;
    • Insufficient and inconsistent support for victims;
    • Policies that are unclear and/or inconsistently applied;
    • Amplifying effects of rank and alcohol;
    • Lack of comprehensive data and measures of outcomes; and,
    • Insufficient training.


Deschamps Report’s 10 Recommendations

  1. Acknowledge that inappropriate sexual conduct is a serious problem that exists in the CAF and undertake to address it. Status: Implemented.
  2. Establish a strategy to effect cultural change to eliminate the sexualized environment and to better integrate women, including by conducting a gender-based analysis of CAF policies. Status:  Implemented.
  3. Create an independent center for accountability for sexual assault and harassment outside of the CAF with the responsibility for receiving reports of inappropriate sexual conduct, as well as prevention, coordination and monitoring of training, victim support, monitoring of accountability, and research, and to act as a central authority for the collection of data. Status: Implemented.
  4. Allow members to report incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault to the center for accountability for sexual assault and harassment, or simply to request support services without the obligation to trigger a formal complaint process. Status: Implemented.
  5. With the participation of the center for accountability for sexual assault and harassment: Status: Implemented.
    • Develop a simple, broad definition of sexual harassment that effectively captures all dimensions of the member’s relationship with the CAF.
    • Develop a definition of adverse personal relationship that specifically addresses relationships between members of different rank, and creates a presumption of an adverse personal relationship where the individuals involved are of different rank, unless the relationship is properly disclosed.
    • Define sexual assault in the policy as intentional, non-consensual touching of a sexual nature.
    • Give guidance on the requirement for consent, including by addressing the impact on genuine consent of a number of factors, including intoxication, differences in rank, and the chain of command.
  6. With the participation of the center for accountability for sexual assault and harassment, develop a unified policy approach to address inappropriate sexual conduct and include as many aspects as possible of inappropriate sexual conduct in a single policy using plain language. Status: Implemented.
  7. Simplify the harassment process by:
    • Directing formal complaints to COs acting as adjudicators in a grievance;
    • Reducing emphasis on ADR. Status: Implemented.
  8. Allow victims of sexual assault to request, with the support of the center for accountability sexual assault and harassment, transfer of the complaint to civilian authorities; provide information explaining the reasons when transfer is not effected. Status: Implemented to the extent possible within existing CAF legal and jurisdictional limitations.
  9. Assign responsibility for providing, coordinating and monitoring victim support to the center for accountability for sexual assault and harassment, including the responsibility for advocating on behalf of victims in the complaint and investigation processes. Status: Implemented.
  10. Assign to the center for accountability for sexual assault and harassment, in coordination with other CAF subject matter experts, responsibility for the development of the training curriculum, and the primary responsibility for monitoring training on matters related to inappropriate sexual conduct. Status: Implemented.

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Sexual Misconduct Response Centre

  • The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC) provides support to CAF members and their families affected by sexual misconduct.
  • The SMRC operates within the Department of National Defence, reports directly to the Deputy Minister, and is outside and independent of the CAF chain of command.
  • SMRC’s core support services include: 
    • 24/7 bilingual confidential supportive counselling, information and referral by civilian counsellors; and,
    • Response and support coordination, where a dedicated civilian counsellor provides support and assistance, advocacy and accompaniment affected members. 
  • While the SMRC is not a reporting or investigative organization, it can facilitate access to official reporting mechanisms, with the consent of the affected member.
  • The Centre also acts as a Centre of Expertise on all aspects of sexual misconduct in the CAF.
  • It provides advice and guidance to CAF leadership and monitors CAF progress on addressing sexual misconduct.
  • The SMRC is committed to providing confidential and comprehensive services to any CAF member who reaches out and to ensuring members feels safe, supported, and heard.

Key Facts

  • September 2015: Sexual Misconduct Response Centre was established.
  • July 2017: SMRC expanded its service hours to 24/7.
  • June 2018: SMRC established an External Advisory Council, which provides independent and impartial third-party advice to enhance the Department’s and the Canadian Armed Forces’ efforts to prevent and address sexual misconduct in the Forces.
  • Aug 2019: SMRC expanded its programming by launching the Response and Support Coordination Program which provides affected members with a dedicated coordinator for ongoing support, assistance, advocacy and accompaniment.
  • The SMRC also established a Contribution Program which provides funds to community-based sexual assault centres in a number of Canadian communities that have a large CAF presence.
  • COVID-19 Operations: Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre’s services remain fully operational, with limitations on in-person accompaniment services based on COVID-19 restrictions.

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Team Canada Flights

  • “Team Canada” was a volunteer program which ran from 2006 to 2017, where Canadian entertainers, artists, and athletes visited our military personnel abroad.
  • In 2017, the Military Police launched an investigation after a military flight attendant filed a formal complaint of sexual misconduct against an individual on a Team Canada flight.
  • The complaint resulted in criminal charges of sexual assault and assault against the individual.
  • Following this incident, National Defence launched an investigation to determine whether there was a pervasive problem of inappropriate behaviour on these flights.
  • After reviewing the summary investigation, National Defence cancelled the Team Canada program and implemented all of its recommendations.
  • For example, since this incident, all personnel working VIP flights now receive enhanced training on alcohol service and consumption, boarding protocols, and flight safety requirements.
  • National Defence learned from this incident and is committed to fostering a culture in which every member of the Defence Team – whether military or civilian – is treated with dignity and respect.

Key Facts

  • National Defence implemented all 12 recommendations following the summary investigation.
  • On 8 May 2019, charges against former NHL player David Williams were dropped after he issued an apology for his behavior aboard the Team Canada flight in December 2017.

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Mental Health

  • We recognize that military service places unique demands on our brave personnel in uniform.
  • This is why we actively encourage all of our members to take care of their mental health and wellness, raise concerns as they arise, and seek the appropriate help when they need it.
  • Throughout the pandemic, we have adapted our health care and support services to ensure that members can access support as needed, while respecting public health measures.
  • Whether you are a civilian employee, military member, or supporting family member, we offer a wide range of programs and services to fit individual mental health needs.
  • Support services include a 24/7 phone referral service for access to counselling, a 24/7 family information line, and peer support for those coping with operational stress.
  • We also continue to enhance mental health training programs through initiatives such as the Road to Mental Readiness which provides informational material and works to reduce stigma.
  • We are committed to supporting Defence Team members and their families, and to ensuring our military personnel have access to the robust mental health care and services they deserve.

If pressed on the removal of paragraph 98(c) of the National Defence Act:

  • I acknowledge the interest and the concerns that have been expressed by the Committee during the course of its study on Mental Health.
  • Paragraph 98(c) of the National Defence Act is not used as a punitive measure against those who suffer from mental health issues.
  • Rather, it addresses the situation where a person subject to the Code of Service Discipline would wilfully maim or injure themselves, another forces member, or a cooperating force, with the specific intent to be rendered unfit for service.
  • The Canadian Armed Forces are assessing whether to insert a note in the Queen’s Regulations and Orders, to provide additional guidance and clarify the legislator’s intent for paragraph 98(c).
  • Protections currently exist within the military justice system for accused persons who suffer from mental health illnesses.
  • For example, the National Defence Act states that no accused person shall be held responsible for a service offence in respect of an act committed or an omission made while suffering from a mental disorder that rendered the person incapable of understanding the wrongful nature of the act.

Key Facts

  • The Canadian Armed Forces runs 37 primary healthcare clinics, of which 31 offer specialized in-house mental health care. All 37 clinics have continued providing clinical services during the pandemic.
    • All 37 primary care clinics host a complement of family physicians, primary care nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and medical technicians.
    • Within the 31 specialized in-house mental health clinics, care providers include social workers, mental health nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, addiction counsellors, and mental health chaplains.
    • In addition, referral options include 4,000 civilian mental health care providers that are registered to provide care to military members in their own practices.
  • Remote access to mental health and spiritual support services are deemed essential and remain available during the Pandemic to Canadian Armed Forces members and their families, including phone lines and online tools.

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Recruitment and Retention of Women in the Canadian Armed Forces

  • The Canadian Armed Forces aspires to meet employment equity goals and to harness the strength and diversity of the people we serve.
  • We are committed to attracting, recruiting and retaining more women in the Canadian Armed Forces across all ranks, and enabling women to achieve their goals to be senior leaders.
  • In fact, we launched a number of recruitment programs and initiatives to move forward this important work, to reach our goal of 25.1% women representative by 2026.  
  • For example, we launched Operation GENERATION which is a multi-pronged, on-going mission to meet growth requirements, while achieving employment equity goals.
  • We are also prioritizing women applicants to military colleges, to increase the representation of women who will be the leaders of the institution in the future. 
  • We will continue to make every effort to increase the representation of women in the forces, and to create an even more inclusive and diverse force.

Key Facts


  • 2019-2020: 10,118 individuals joined the Canadian Armed Forces, with 5,172 joining the Regular Force. Of those who joined, 1,775 (17.5%) were women.
  • 2020-2021 (as of 21 January): 2,819 individuals joined the Canadian Armed Forces, with 1,320 joining the Regular Force. Of those who joined, 658 (23.3%) were women.
  15/16 16/17 17/18 18/19 19/20 20/21
Women Recruited in the CAF (Regular/Reserve 1,074 1,439 1,564 1,821 1,866* 658*

*Overall CAF recruitment diminished as a result of COVID-19

  • A number of initiatives focusing on the recruitment of women were launched over the last 24 months including: “Women in the Forces” landing page on recruiting website
  • 2019-2020: 40% of local attraction and outreach events were focused on women.


  • 2015-2020: CAF attrition rate over the past 5 years remained at 8-9% for the Regular and Reserve Force, one of the lowest rates in the Five Eyes.
  • 2015-2020: Each year, overall attrition rates for women in the Regular and Primary Reserve Force were at or lower than those of men

Women, Minority, and Indigenous representation in CAF:

  Current Goal
Women 16.1% 25%
Minority 9.3% 11.8%
Indigenous 2.8% 3.5%

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Hateful Conduct, Racism, and Discrimination

  • The Canadian Armed Forces does not tolerate racist or discriminatory behaviour of any kind.
  • The Defence Team is committed to ongoing and deliberate work required to address racism, extremism, discrimination, and hateful conduct.
  • That is why an Advisory Panel on systemic racism and discrimination, and an Anti-Racism Secretariat was recently established.
  • The Panel and Secretariat provide advice on how National Defence can best eliminate discriminatory behaviours from its ranks and build a diverse force that is open to all.
  • As part of our commitment to culture change, the Canadian Armed Forces published its hateful conduct policy approach in July 2020.
  • This approach defines hateful conduct and establishes clear expectations and guidance on how to prevent, detect, and respond to it.
  • Accompanying this approach is a new tracking system that will ensure we have the capability to identify and track any suspected incidents, and that future policy is informed by data.
  • We remain committed to doing the ongoing work that is necessary to foster a culture where all members feel safe and respected.  

Key Facts

  • On July 10, 2020, the Canadian Armed Forces issued its hateful conduct policy approach, and launched a new tracking system that will allow for improved reporting and tracking of cases of hateful conduct.
  • This tracking system includes legacy cases as well as new ones to allow the organization to better understand trends and measures taken to impact the institutional culture in a positive way.
  • As at Jan. 28 2021, a total of 193 incidents (dating back to 1997) are currently being tracked in the Hateful Conduct Incident Tracking System.
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