Canadian Armed Forces Second Progress Report Addressing Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour - Implementing External Review Authority (ERA) Recommendations


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The following section describes the Canadian Armed Forces actions completed or underway to implement each of the ten External Review Authority recommendations.

Recommendation 1:

Acknowledge that inappropriate sexual conduct is a serious problem that exists in the Canadian Armed Forces and undertake to address it.

This recommendation has been met. Since receiving the External Review Authority Report, senior military leadership has been unequivocal in acknowledging that inappropriate sexual conduct is a serious problem, and committing to address it. Specific orders, directions and leader-led activities dealing with ethics, harassment, awareness and prevention have been delivered across the organisation from the outset of Operation HONOUR, and continue on a regular basis. Frequent Town Halls and commanding officer sessions have focussed on the reality of inappropriate behaviour and the need to eliminate it. Operation HONOUR briefings and subject-specific information have been incorporated throughout the institution, ranging from the Chief of the Defence Staff Guidance to Commanding Officers to recruit level training. Moreover, the responsibilities and accountabilities of commanders at all levels have been made very clear, with commanders being supported in achieving this culture change.

Recommendation 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 Canadian Armed Forces policies.

This recommendation is in the process of being met. Operation HONOUR is linked very closely to other culture change initiatives related to discrimination, employment equity, and diversity across the institution and the Government of Canada. In addition to the larger effort to eliminate harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour in the Canadian Armed Forces as already outlined, related deliverables include an enhanced diversity strategy for the military and implementation of Gender Based Analysis Plus training across the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces. A Champion for Gender Based Analysis Plus has been appointed and the institution continues to work closely with Status of Women Canada on the implementation of Gender Based Analysis Plus training and application in program and policy analysis. This is linked closely with the enhanced Women, Peace and Security initiatives outlined in the Chief of the Defence Staff Directive and Canada’s Action Plan, the establishment of gender advisors, and ongoing improvements to addressing complaints across the workplace. Other related internal work to effect cultural change includes; modernizing definitions and integrating policy across the institution; and rolling out new or enhanced training packages for diversity, harassment, conduct, workplace environment, bystander intervention and other subjects related to harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour. The Canadian Armed Forces has committed to working with the Human Rights Commission on policy and training developments in order to ensure these areas benefit from their experience and expertise.

As illustrated in recommendation 6, the Canadian Armed Forces is introducing a new, more comprehensive discriminatory conduct policy that will encompass all prohibited grounds for discrimination.

The Canadian Defence Academy and Canadian Forces Recruiting Group have actively undertaken specific activities to improve diversity in the Canadian Armed Forces, specifically striving to meet the annual 1% increase in female representation through improved retention and recruiting.

Recommendation 3:

Create an independent center outside of the Canadian Armed Forces 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.

This recommendation is in the process of being met with the stand-up of the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre in September 2015. The Centre is responsible for facilitating victim support. It continues to work closely with the Strategic Response Team on Sexual Misconduct to provide input and advice in the development of training, victim support, prevention, and research.

The Centre is one of several agencies collecting data at this time and they are now implementing a robust case management system for data collection and analysis. While it initially employed a rudimentary data collection tool, it now uses a new system that has been operational since May 2016.

To preserve the confidentiality of information related to victim reports and personal data, the Canadian Armed Forces continues to use separate systems for the reporting of medical and police related files. As a result, the Strategic Response Team is serving as the central coordinator of data from the Canadian Forces National Investigation Services, Significant Incident Reports, and the new monthly reports being submitted by Level One organisations. Data from medical records cannot be shared and data from the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre is restricted to protect confidentiality.

Recommendation 4:

Allow members to report incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault to the centre for accountability for sexual assault and harassment, or simply to request support services without the obligation to trigger a formal complaint process.

This recommendation has been met. It was implemented with the stand up and opening of the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre on September 15th, 2015. The Centre provides confidential and anonymous support without requiring a formal complaint.

The confidentiality protocol allows individuals contacting the Centre to receive the information, support, and the validation needed to empower them to take the next step without triggering a formal report. For some, this may mean being heard by another person for the first time, obtaining information on access to formal support services in their area and, for those who choose to do so, making a formal complaint.

In certain circumstances, members may request that counsellors provide assistance in accessing services. Barriers such as current emotional state, fear of exposure, reprisal or career implications, lack of knowledge, and structural or organisational barriers may preclude a member from reaching out to the many services already available within the Canadian Armed Forces. The Centre counsellors can facilitate access for individuals who have experienced or been affected by sexual trauma in seeking the services or care they need.

The Centre has established protocols with key care providers to assist members and facilitate access to required services. For example, counsellors may coordinate an appointment with Canadian Forces Health Services Primary Care and Mental Health clinics on behalf of the member, enabling them to avoid triage and providing them support in taking this step. Counsellors may also transfer a live call to the National Investigation Service or to a Chaplain. Of note, prior to taking any action, the counsellor will always obtain the member’s consent and discuss the information that they are comfortable in sharing.

Recommendation 5:

Develop a simple, broad definition of sexual harassment that effectively captures all dimensions of the member’s relationship with the Canadian Armed Forces; 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 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; and, 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.

This recommendation is in the process of being met. During this reporting period, the Canadian Armed Forces completed the development of common terminology related to harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour, as described in the report above. This terminology more fully reflects the realities of modern military service and speech, using simple, accessible language and straightforward explanations of related terms. These have been incorporated into training material and will be integrated in policies.

Aligned with this recommendation, the Chief of the Defence Staff directed the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre to review and recommend ways to centralize expertise and advice to enhance not only the investigations but the management of files and complaints regarding sexual harassment. This work has been initiated and will be completed in the next reporting period.

Recommendation 6:

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.

This recommendation is in the process of being met. The review and development of policy associated with harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour received major attention during this period as described in the report above, and considerable progress was made in understanding the scope of the work required to develop and implement a more straightforward and coherent policy suite.

The Canadian Armed Forces has developed a unified policy concept to address not only harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour specifically, but all conduct and performance deficiencies – an approach that was approved by the Canadian Armed Forces Personnel Committee. A policy Tiger Team composed of social policy analysts will continue the development of the unified and simplified policy on conduct and performance over the next reporting period. Once the overarching policy on conduct has been completed, related policies will undergo a review and rewrite, if necessary, to align with the overarching policy’s intent and direction.

The institution continues to be engaged in overarching Government of Canada policies and programs review and update with respect to Diversity, Harassment, Workplace Violence, Health and Wellness and Gender Based Analysis Plus. The Canadian Armed Forces has also formally undertaken to work with the Canadian Human Right Commission on of policy development and training matters.

Of note, the policy approach adopted remains consolidated with and inclusive of the effort of civilian personnel within the Department of National Defence where it makes sense to do so.

Recommendation 7:

Simplify the harassment process by: Directing formal complaints to COs acting as adjudicators in a grievance; and reducing emphasis on ADR.

This recommendation is in the process of being met. According to both complainants and the chain of command, the current harassment process has problems associated with harassment reporting, including a perceived lack of transparency and respect for timelines, and difficulty locating trained and harassment qualified personnel.

The implementation of this recommendation is through a holistic review of the complaint process designed to simplify and enhance the entire gamut of complaints, including those for harassment.

The Integrated Complaint and Conflict Management program was mandated to provide a simplified, efficient and integrated complaint/conflict resolution program within the Canadian Armed Forces; a program is envisaged as being the resolution process of choice for all forms of inappropriate behaviour. This program, at maturity, will enable the chain of command to better care for the welfare of members with timely, consistent advice and a more robust complaint management process. Trials will be conducted starting in September.

The Integrated Complaint and Conflict Management Program Team will continue to lead the development of the capability and support the prototypes in consultation with the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre and other key partners across the institution.

As per recommendation 5 there in ongoing work to address sexual harassment that will address this recommendation as well.

Recommendation 8:

Allow victims of sexual assault to request, with the support of the centre for accountability for sexual assault and harassment, transfer of the complaint to civilian authorities: provide information explaining the reasons when transfer is not affected.

Progress has been made in implementing this recommendation. As previously noted, any victim of a sexual assault in the Canadian Armed Forces always has the choice of whether to report to civilian or military authorities. Additionally, even though a victim initially reported the allegations to the military police, they may, at any time, request that the complaint be transferred to civilian authorities, or vice versa.

Recently, the Director of Military Prosecutions has updated a number of his policy directives including those that address consideration of the views of the victim regarding jurisdiction for prosecution of the offence between military and civilian authorities. These policies go further than that suggested in Recommendation 8. In fact, the Director of Military Prosecutions has directed that instead of simply responding to a request from a victim, a prosecutor must proactively seek and consider the views of the victim when determining the most appropriate jurisdiction for the matter to be dealt with and has set out a number of different factors that a prosecutor must take into consideration.

Although the decision of the military prosecutor on whether a matter should proceed within the military justice system is one of prosecutorial discretion, the Director of Military Prosecutions has also directed that once such a decision has been taken, that the prosecutor responsible for the file shall ensure the victim is informed of that decision and the associated reasoning behind that decision.

Recommendation 9:

Assign responsibility for providing, coordinating and monitoring victim support to the centre for accountability for sexual assault and harassment, including the responsibility for advocating on behalf of victims in the complaint and investigation processes.

Progress has been made in implementing this recommendation. The advocacy role for victims of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour continues to be shared across the Canadian Armed Forces by various entities delivering victim support, including care providers and the chain of command. The inclusion of the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre to this mix has been an important addition.

In more specific terms, the Centre is engaged in advocacy on two levels. Its direct interactions with victims provide them with a steady, dependable base that empowers and assists victims in moving forward with support options.

At an institutional level, the Centre is providing added and more sustained impetus to internal considerations focused on harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour.

The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre’s advocacy role is being further considered as a function of its evolution to its final configuration in summer 2017.

Related to this recommendation, Bill C-71, introduced to Parliament in June of 2015, would have enhanced victim advocacy within the Canadian Armed Forces, by mirroring the Victims Bill of Rights, which established rights for victims of criminal offences within the civilian justice system. Although the bill died on the order paper when the previous Parliament was dissolved, a current legislative proposal recommends the development of a new bill closely resembling Bill C-71, which would strengthen the rights of victims of service offences within the military justice system including those of a sexual nature.

Recommendation 10:

Assign to the center for accountability for sexual assault and harassment, in coordination with other Canadian Armed Forces 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.

This recommendation is in the process of being met, though it remains in its early stages. The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre does not currently possess a formally structured training and education capability, due to last fall’s initial emphasis on a rapid stand-up delivering enhanced first-line victim support independent of the military chain of command. Integrating a training capacity into the Centre’s final configuration in 2017 as suggested in the recommendation is presently being assessed.

The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre is, however, actively influencing Operation HONOUR-related training development, providing input, advice and assistance for both enhanced and new curricula, tools and delivery vehicles. It is providing this support to the Strategic Response Team, which has executed the training function since the launch of Operation HONOUR.

As outlined earlier in considerable detail, significant progress has been achieved in modernizing Operation HONOUR-related training and education at both the institutional and sub-organisational levels, with more improvements in curriculum development, curriculum delivery and systemic evaluation underway or soon to be initiated.

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