Executive Summary

On November 25, 2019, the Federal Court of Canada approved a Final Settlement Agreement (FSA) that provides compensation to current and former members the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and current and former employees of the Department of National Defence (DND) and Staff of the Non-Public Funds (SNPF), Canadian Forces, who experienced sexual misconduct.

This Summary Report is one of the final outputs from the consultation mandated by the Survivor Support Consultations policy measure (‘Schedule N’) of the FSA.

Schedule N originated from the class members’ wish to see the DND/CAF commit to enhancements to support to survivors of sexual misconduct within the CAF. The objective is to ensure that those who are affected by sexual misconduct can, through their class representatives, directly influence the institution’s policies, programs, and services to respond to sexual misconduct and to support survivors.

Schedule N commits to a series of engagements with Class Member Representatives in order to provide them with presentations on initiatives put in place since Operation HONOUR in 2015, as well as new initiatives that are being planned, and then to formally consult with them on other enhancements or priorities that should be considered.

The Schedule also requires participation around the table by DND/CAF representatives, and provides for the contracting of subject matter experts to assist the consultation group in its deliberations. It allows for the work of the consultation group to inform a Survivor Support Strategy for CAF members affected by sexual misconduct, as well as a plan for ongoing engagement with survivor stakeholders moving forward.

The consultation began in winter 2020 and involved:

  • A desk review of literature on sexual misconduct, with a focus on survivor support
  • A series of meetings held by three Class Member Representatives, three members of the Defence Team, and three external Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who formed the Survivor Support Consultation Group (SSCG)
  • Consultation with representatives of the DND/CAF through a series of informational briefs and presentations held between 19 August and 10 December 2020, as well as follow-up correspondence and outreach

The literature review, briefings, and meetings allowed us to identify barriers to access and gaps within current supports for CAF members affected by sexual misconduct. We noted multiple, mutually reinforcing institutional and structural barriers, making access to comprehensive, holistic, well-coordinated, tailored, timely, trauma-informed, and survivor-centred support extremely challenging.

As such, work around prevention and culture change was seen by all participants as vital in, and as inextricably connected to, an overall approach to survivor support. Further, a key element identified by all participants was the crucial need for DND/CAF organizations to undertake meaningful, ongoing, dedicated engagement with diverse survivors of sexual misconduct, as well as the need to engage, partner, and collaborate with experts and agencies across voluntary, community, and other sectors to design approaches to support – including responses tailored to survivors with distinct needs such as women, men, Indigenous, 2SLGBTQ+ survivors, and others. This Summary Report describes the work of the SSCG, outlines the key learning from the consultation process, and sets out our findings and recommendations. The report:

  • Provides an overview of the broader context of work, reviews, and recommendations aimed at enhancing support for those affected by sexual misconduct in the CAF
  • Provides an analysis of what we observed about support gaps and needs
  • Considers the experiences of diverse groups of affected members, including those with distinct needs
  • Highlights principles, key themes, goals, and recommendations identified during our work that provide a basis for further engagement on a way forward for the development of a Survivor Support Strategy and implementation plan

Based on our work together, we identified three core principles as foundational for the development of a Survivor Support Strategy:

  • cultural humility
  • trauma-informed
  • survivor-centred

We further identified five key themes around which to organize our proposed goals and recommendations:

  • engagement, partnerships, and research
  • support, especially to address service gaps
  • training
  • communication and information
  • accountability

The SSCG’s 45 recommendations are reproduced below.

List of Recommendations

Theme: Engagement, Partnerships, and Research

Goal: Elevate engagement, collaboration, and partnerships

  • Recommendation 1
    • Develop and implement an ongoing, consistent engagement and collaboration mechanism/process that centers the expertise of survivors of sexual misconduct within the CAF, such as an Advisory Council or Community of Practice (CoP).
      • The mechanism must permit the DND/CAF to hear directly from a diverse array of survivors about their experiences, needs, and recommendations for improving support.
      • It should be involved in all aspects of the development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of policies, procedures, and initiatives to support affected members and address sexual misconduct in the CAF.
      • Survivor members should represent a diverse range of backgrounds, experiences, and include distinct groups (e.g. women, men, 2SLGBTQ+, Indigenous peoples, Reservists).
      • The DND/CAF can begin the process of engaging the survivor community by reaching out to organizations that advocate for those affected by military sexual misconduct and MST in the CAF such as It’s Not Just 700 (INJ700) and the Survivor Perspectives Consulting Group that facilitate survivors taking on leadership roles to determine the most appropriate structure.
      • Survivors, whether through a sub-committee of the Advisory Council/CoP or another mechanism, should be represented on the Seamless Transition Task Force – Transition Process implementation team, under the governance of the joint steering committee, to ensure their involvement in the development of programs and services related to transition.
  • Recommendation 2
    • Develop a broader stakeholder engagement strategy that prioritizes survivor engagement to hear directly from survivors about their experiences, needs, and recommendations for improving support, as well as from other stakeholders.
      • Refine and expand the CAF’s network of civilian partners and stakeholder agencies.
      • Ensure that all engagement initiatives with a sexual misconduct nexus include a diverse array of survivors and external advocates representing a variety of backgrounds, identities, and experiences.
      • Ensure that engagement with survivors and external advocates is designed or co-designed, and led or co-led, by an experienced, external facilitator rather than being designed and facilitated by internal staff.
  • Recommendation 3
    • Work to address any potential gaps in the membership of the SMRC’s External Advisory Council (EAC) on Sexual Misconduct (e.g. to include representation by those who engage and support male victims of sexual misconduct, those with expertise on Indigenous survivor issues, and/or others).
  • Recommendation 4
    • Invest in projects that promote collaboration, relationship-building, survivor leadership development, and community capacity building.
  • Recommendation 5
    • Build CoPs on CAF bases and wings.
      • As part of this work, consider how to reach and engage all CAF members, including those in junior ranks, non-commissioned Members (NCMs), Reservists, and those in smaller units. Consideration should be given to initiatives that are already underway or being developed, such as a working group with NCMs, an expansion of the SMRC to the regional level, and implementation of the VLO role (i.e. through implementation of Bill C-77).
  • Recommendation 6
    • Build relationships, partnerships, and collaborate with organizational staff, other relevant health and social service organizations, and key external stakeholders in the development of strategies and practices to promote the three core principles (i.e. trauma-informed, cultural humility, and survivor-centred).
      • Define the terms ‘trauma-informed’, ‘cultural humility’, and ‘survivor- centred’; apply a consistent definition across units within the DND/CAF.
      • Seek DND staff and CAF member feedback on the mainstreaming of such principles; promote collaboration to make organizational improvements as needed.

Goal: Address data-related issues and continue to build the evidence base

  • Recommendation 7
    • Deepen the evidence-based understanding of the diverse experiences of CAF members who experience sexual misconduct and the context around sexual misconduct. Research should:
      • be developed in collaboration with allied community-based organizations and others with expertise in research focusing on experiences of diverse populations
      • collect disaggregated data on various identity factors
  • Recommendation 8
    • Establish a formal method to capture DND/CAF best practices and lessons learned related to supporting persons affected by sexual misconduct, and identify key barriers and strategies for bridging the gap between research and practice.
  • Recommendation 9
    • Continue work amongst internal partners to inventory and coordinate available data assets and systems that are currently used across DND/CAF to capture and manage files related to systemic misconduct, which includes sexual misconduct.
  • Recommendation 10
    • Leverage partnerships to standardize and use consistent definitions and terminology related to sexual misconduct, ensuring that definitions and terminology are applied consistently in the context of data, research, and knowledge translation and dissemination strategies.
    • Moving forward, there should be greater precision and consistency in the use of language in reports and in the dissemination of data (e.g. the differences between incidents, reports, investigations, charges, etc.).
    • Further, data sources should be clearly identified and limitations of the data should be clearly noted in reports as to avoid any misrepresentation or misinterpretation of results.

Theme: Support

Goal: Create a well-coordinated, seamless, and accessible model of support

  • Recommendation 11
    • With funding from Budget 2021, improve access and direct support by expanding the SMRC’s Response and Support Coordination (RSC) program, putting in place regional coordinators at bases, units, and wings.
      • RS Coordinators must be allowed to escort survivors to any meetings they have and must be available to assist the chain of command in helping to develop a safe work environment should the survivor wish to remain in that work environment.
  • Recommendation 12
    • Undertake a comprehensive analysis/study of current support services across the DND/CAF, with a focus on identifying specific support gaps and barriers and ensuring consistent application of approaches that are trauma-informed, survivor-centred, and that promote cultural humility.
      • Fully examine governance, recruitment, policies, and application of policies.
      • Fully map vulnerability points within the DND/CAF that impede victims’/survivors’ access to support and/or create risks for “falling through the cracks”.
      • As part of the analysis, place emphasis on workplace accommodation and transition-related gaps, along with solutions for addressing them that prioritize survivor choice.
      • Undertake a detailed analysis of how trauma survivors are served by Health Services (e.g. Is there universal screening of all issues of trauma as a matter of procedure? What is the standard of training of mental health professionals at Health Services? For contracted external services? What qualities of best-practice care, including best practices for various specific populations, are implemented?)
      • Ensure that issues of trauma are included in the assessment screening tool in the military career transition process.
  • Recommendation 13
    • Ensure equal access to services for all CAF survivors regardless of where they are located in Canada, and/or CAF survivors who require support while serving outside of Canada.
      • As part of this, undertake scenario-based facilitated discussions such as real-time tabletop exercises amongst DND/CAF organizations to map out the support landscape and find ways to continuously improve service delivery for deployed CAF members.

Goal: Customize approaches to address the needs of specific groups of survivors

  • Recommendation 14
    • Develop a male-centred framework of services, and overall approach to understanding sexual misconduct, that reflect and meet men’s specific service needs.
  • Recommendation 15
    • In order to address the needs of male-identified members, consider the development of male-specific strategies such as a portal, which could:
      • Include a “menu” of options, such as reporting, accessing online survivor support services, and/or bridging to dedicated resources of Health Services or allied services not normally associated with a Survivor Support Strategy (e.g. services for domestic violence perpetration, sexually compulsive behaviours).
      • Help men connect to dedicated and allied services and bridge to mental health services for men regardless of their base or mission or transfer. By doing so, the services offered could meet national standards of care, offer greater access and privacy, increase the timeliness of support, and not be dependent on the size or scope of local community resources.
      • Be labelled as a “men’s wellness” initiative or comparable term (i.e. avoiding any victim-identified or offender-identified language), in recognition that men are reluctant to engage with sexual assault centres or other traditionally “female-defined” spaces.
      • Be organized by language, culture, and/or other factors.
  • Recommendation 16
    • Increase support options for men by working with service providers with demonstrated competency in supporting male survivors through initiatives such as the SMRC’s Transfer Payment Program and other initiatives.
      • Community sexual assault services or other community agencies that are not able to develop or sustain dedicated male-centred services should not be utilized as civilian partners for the CAF to serve male survivors.
  • Recommendation 17
    • Adopt an intersectional approach to all aspects of the development and implementation of supports for SGM survivors that centres their experiences and expertise.
      • An ‘intersectional approach’, analysis, and orientation to addressing sexual misconduct considers how gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, race, language, ability, Indigeneity, and other identity factors intersect with various structures, systems, and forms of discrimination within and outside of the CAF.
  • Recommendation 18
    • Develop and foster SGM-specific understandings of, and responses to, trauma and violence including to:
      • Develop and adopt a trauma-informed framework for supporting survivors that is inclusive of the additional and distinct forms of trauma experienced by SGMs that go beyond sexual misconduct.
      • Ensure that supports are built upon recognition of the continuum of sexual and other forms of harm that disproportionately impact SGMs, and reflect an understanding of the additional and distinct forms of violence and tactics of power and control used to commit violence against SGMs.
      • Promote a wrap-around service delivery model capable of responding to the distinct and varied mental health and health care needs of SGMs.
  • Recommendation 19
    • Identify the specific barriers that Indigenous survivors face to accessing supports as well as the type of supports that best help Indigenous survivors through their healing process.
  • Recommendation 20
    • Work to address the gaps and barriers noted in the Report to the SSCG provided by Myrna McCallum. Specific recommendations in the Report apply to each of: the Royal Canadian Chaplain Service (RCChS)/IACG; the Canadian Forces Health Services; the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS); Canadian Military Prosecution Service (CMPS); Office of the Judge Advocate General (OJAG); Integrated Conflict and Complaint Management (ICCM); Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group (DAAG); and Army Reserves.
  • Recommendation 21
    • Prioritize recruitment and retention of self-identifying Indigenous and Two Spirit judges, lawyers, prosecutors, VLOs, Elders and cultural leaders to reflect the diversity among Indigenous peoples and to communicate a message of transformation, commitment to representation (e.g. race, culture, gender identity, and values), and to inspire credibility and trust.
  • Recommendation 22
    • Any departments, offices, or leaders developing strategies to support Indigenous members who experience sexual misconduct in the CAF must first address the realities and failures set out by Anna McAlpine in her thesis, An Intersectional Analysis of Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces: Indigenous Servicewomen, dated 9 April 2021.
  • Recommendation 23
    • Consider revising the terms of service for Reservists to enhance entitlements to care, particularly for sexual misconduct they experience during military service.
  • Recommendation 24
    • Improve the clarity and administration of the Reservists’ entitlement and eligibility for support in relation to sexual misconduct.
      • Develop a strategy to better reach Reservists in order to increase awareness of available support. A coordinating function should be considered as part of the strategy.
  • Recommendation 25
    • Explore options to modernize Reserve Force practices so that survivors can more easily access services.
      • Since members of the Primary Reserve can be as young as 16 years of age, there is a need for the Reserve Force to think about supporting survivors who are under the age of 18.

Goal: Reduce stigma and break isolation at all levels

  • Recommendation 26
    • With funding announced in Budget 2021, reduce stigma and break isolation by implementing a professionally co-facilitated online and in- person peer support program for CAF members and Veterans who have experienced sexual misconduct during their service in the CAF.
      • Involve those affected by sexual misconduct as co-developers of the program.
      • Ensure that in-person peer support group meetings are held regularly and during work hours (e.g. during physical training). This will help promote a sense of relationship building, encourage maximum participation, and reduce the potential for disrupting the survivor’s time spent with their regular support networks or external therapy treatments.
  • Recommendation 27
    • Partner with national technical assistance providers to enhance knowledge around the use of technology to reach more survivors. This will create a long-term network of experts to whom service providers and survivors can turn to for advice on best practices and advances in the field of virtual advocacy and support. Further, the network could be explored in relation to training for providers on best practices in virtual advocacy and safe technology for survivors, including survivors in underserved populations, young CAF members, and Reservists.
      • As part of this work, the DND/CAF should explore the feasibility of building chat and text components into the functionality of survivor support services.
      • Professional standards for use of technologies should be assessed, along with any reviews previously done of technology in relation to survivor support.
      • Recommendation 15 (online portal for men) should be considered in the context of this work.
  • Recommendation 28
    • Acknowledge and document the pervasive problem of reprisals and other forms of secondary wounding experienced by CAF survivors following disclosures of sexual misconduct. This may include, but is not limited to:
      • Undertaking further investigation of:
        • the various types of reprisals and secondary wounding already identified by CAF survivors;
        • changes in treatment by unit members;
        • job relocation or changes;
        • career interruptions or endings; and
        • lack of trauma-informed responses from those in helping positions, as well as from investigators or others involved in investigation and prosecution related to sexual misconduct.
      • Ensuring that analyses document how reprisals and secondary wounding are embedded in the gendered and sexualized military culture, and how certain groups, such as women, men, 2SLGBTQ+, and Indigenous members are distinctly impacted.
  • Recommendation 29
    • Ensure that support and services for survivors are designed to address the significant psychological, physical, economic, spiritual, and employment impacts of sustained reprisals and secondary wounding as an additional component of military sexual misconduct and MST.

Goal: Modernize reporting options

  • Recommendation 30
    • Establish an explicit exemption for victims/survivors, as well as designated health and support professionals who provide support to victims/survivors, from prosecution for failing to report sexual misconduct, with limitations for such cases as risk of imminent harm, harm to children, national security, etc.
  • Recommendation 31
    • Enhance supports to survivors of sexual misconduct in Canada’s military justice system by providing access to alternative reporting options external to the chain of command.
  • Recommendation 32
    • With funding from Budget 2021, put in place a pilot project to provide independent legal advice to those affected by sexual misconduct whose cases are proceeding in the military justice system.

Theme: Training

Goal: Enhance support provider capacity and competency

  • Recommendation 33
    • Enhance the subject matter expertise of those who provide support to CAF members affected by sexual misconduct, including education and training on trauma-informed approaches, cultural humility, and vicarious trauma (i.e. resilience training). This includes:
      • Providing service providers with the tools to appropriately respond to reports and/or disclosures of sexual misconduct.
      • Developing and implementing role-based certification and training, standards of training and certification, professional standards for service providers, and quality assurance systems.
      • Ensuring that support providers have the training, supervision, monitoring and oversight commensurate with their responsibility.
      • Providing adequate staff support for training.
      • Developing protocols and policies to encourage support providers to enhance their skills and knowledge relating to sexual misconduct, including with respect to vicarious trauma.
      • Promoting a culture of commitment to ongoing training through annual refreshers and foundational courses.
  • Recommendation 34
    • Explore options for seeking accreditation of certain services by a recognized accrediting body, where appropriate.
  • Recommendation 35
    • Implement mandatory and continuous CAF-wide education and training on preventing sexual misconduct and responding to disclosures of sexual misconduct that is developed, facilitated, and evaluated in partnership with external SMEs and trainers. In general, training and education initiatives on sexual misconduct should be:
      • Conducted by trauma-informed professionals and not the chain of command.
      • Developed and delivered in collaboration with external advocates/experts and in keeping with evidence-based best practices in sexual violence prevention and response training protocols.
      • Backed by national standards (e.g. language, messaging).
      • Include content on consent, being an effective bystander, understanding the distinct experiences of sexual misconduct for various groups, the intersection of sexual misconduct and colonialism, transphobia, racism, sexism and misogyny, and address the distinct ways in which the history and culture of the military create conditions in which sexual misconduct happens.
      • Repeated regularly throughout an individual’s career as opposed to being limited to a single training.
      • Engage learners and leaders in meaningful and difficult conversations, and require demonstration of a competent understanding of key concepts and skills introduced in the training.
      • Tailored to reflect the distinct responsibilities and roles of different organizations and positions. This will require the development and delivery of additional specialized, unit and department-specific training to CAF leadership, health services personnel, the CFNIS, Chaplains, SMRC counsellors/staff, and others who occupy distinct roles within the CAF.
      • Subject to external monitoring, evaluation, and revision as needed.
  • Recommendation 36
    • Ensure that the development and delivery of Indigenous-specific content to those who work to serve Indigenous survivors and complainants is delivered by Indigenous experts and includes an emphasis on the following:
      • Trauma-informed engagement strategies
      • Cultural humility
      • Implicit bias awareness and safeguard strategies
      • Stereotypes, myths, and stigmas targeting Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) and Two Spirit survivors of sexual misconduct
      • The TRC Calls to Action
      • The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) Calls for Justice

Goal: Form leaders with relational skills

  • Recommendation 37
    • As an intrinsic part of character-based leadership initiatives in the CAF, develop a plan to foster leadership tools that focus on emotional intelligence, compassion, responsiveness, approachability, and cultural humility. The application of these core interpersonal skills will go beyond the focus on individuals and extend to understanding structural power imbalances and the ways in which this understanding is essential for those in leadership roles. The CAF’s historical institutional structures of oppression should be part of the analysis, while fostering ongoing self- reflections about leadership’s own privilege and responsibility.
    • Avoid use of the term “soft skills” in relation to these training initiatives, as such terminology will not resonate and will marginalize the value of these critical leadership competencies and perspectives; instead, link to a “people first” approach.
    • Develop a plan for each of: Non-Commissioned Members (NCMs), Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs), and Officers.
      • Ensure that middle leadership is included.
      • Ensure that the NCM core is included; such skills should be reflected in the NCM Leadership Course, in recognition that NCM leadership is critical to solutions.
      • Explore models that include civilian or former military members co-facilitating leadership training with the military.

Theme: Communication and Information

Goal: Improve the quality and accessibility of information

  • Recommendation 38
    • Ensure that timely, accurate, up-to-date, and clear/plain language information about services and how to access them is widely available to all CAF members, their families, and the public, such as through a centralized online portal.
  • Recommendation 39
    • Establish an information package for victims/survivors on their rights, the impacts of victimization and on the support services which exist in the CAF, along with external and/or partner organizations.
  • Recommendation 40
    • Materials created for survivors need to be carefully examined. Survivors should receive a debriefing package that highlights what they can expect, and who they can contact; however, information should be provided in such a way so as to avoid overloading a survivor with too many materials too soon.
  • Recommendation 41
    • Add information on available services for MST to CAF retirement/release processes.
      • Offer a retirement/release package that includes information on MST and services as well as a screening service for all CAF Regular Force and Reserve Force personnel.

Theme: Accountability

Goal: Embed governance structures, accountability, and commitment

  • Recommendation 42
    • Issue a directive to establish a Working Group to fully analyze recommendations in this Summary Report and the SSCG’s SMEs’ recommendations.
      • The Working Group should attach both a timeline and an appropriate lead organization or organizations to ensure the recommendations get turned into implementable action items across DND/CAF organizations through development of an implementation plan.
  • Recommendation 43
    • Develop and implement a performance measurement framework for the Survivor Support Strategy and implementation plan to measure, monitor, and report on progress across the continuum of services.
      • Adopt a results-based and lessons learned-oriented approach to performance measurement – one that promotes continuous improvement.
  • Recommendation 44
    • Performance indicators that reflect initiatives and their outcomes must be tracked with regard to support for sexual misconduct survivors; leaders at all levels must be monitored, and incentivized to participate.
  • Recommendation 45
    • Commit to trauma-informed, survivor-centred principles, and cultural humility principles, practices, policies, and procedures across the DND/CAF, including at the individual, group, and institutional or systems level.
      • Define the terms ‘trauma-informed’, ‘survivor-centred’ and ‘cultural humility’; apply a consistent definition across units within the DND/CAF.
      • Integrate these core principles into organizational policies, procedures, and practices.
      • Ensure that diverse cultural factors are reflected (e.g., race, gender, sexuality, disability).
      • Build relationships, partnerships, and collaborate with organizational staff, other relevant health and social service organizations, and key external stakeholders in the development of the principles and their application.
      • Seek DND staff and CAF member feedback on the implementation of the principles and their application; promote collaboration to make organizational improvements as needed.
      • Cultivate an environment for all members and staff that reflects the principles.
      • Be aware that trauma can impact anyone. Promote an environment of self-care/wellness and take organizational measures to prevent vicarious trauma.
      • Expand the area of concern from “sexual misconduct” to all forms of trauma for service members, while continuing to recognize the specific and distinct dynamics of sexual misconduct as a source of trauma.

Page details

Date modified: