Part II – About the Work of the Survivor Support Consultation Group

Background: Schedule N, Survivor Support Consultations

In 2016 and 2017, seven former members of the CAF initiated class action lawsuits against the Government of Canada related to people who experienced sexual assault, sexual harassment, or discrimination based on gender, sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation while serving in the CAF, working for the DND, or for the Staff of the Non-Public Funds, Canadian Forces (SNPF).

In July 2019, the parties involved in the class action signed a proposed Final Settlement Agreement (FSA). The FSA for the CAF–DND Sexual Misconduct Class Action Settlement was approved by the Federal Court of Canada on 25 November, 2019.Footnote 21

The FSA provides for financial compensation for former and current CAF members, DND employees and staff of SNPF affected by sexual misconduct, along with a suite of policy measures and change initiatives to promote positive organizational culture and address sexual misconduct in the CAF, such as the option to participate in a Restorative Engagement program.

A great deal was learned from those who came forward during the settlement approval process and hearings to share their experiences. These lessons, along with outcomes from the class action and settlement, underscored the need to transform the ways in which those affected by sexual misconduct are supported and engaged.

Schedule N to the FSA, titled “Survivor Support Consultations” (see Annex 1, “Schedule N”), outlines a requirement to form a Survivor Support Consultation Group (hereafter “SSCG”).

Schedule N:

  • Requires representation around the table by DND/CAF and class member representatives and provides for the contracting of subject matter experts to assist the SSCG in its deliberations
  • Originates from class members’ wish to see the DND/CAF commit to enhancements to support survivors of sexual misconduct within the CAF
  • Commits to sharing information and presentations with class member representatives on initiatives put in place since Operation HONOUR in 2015, as well as new initiatives being planned, and formally consulting class member representatives on other enhancements or priorities that should be considered
  • Articulates a process by which 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
  • Includes, as its main focus, discussion and recommendations pertaining to the content of a Survivor Support Strategy for CAF members affected by sexual misconduct, and a framework for engaging survivors and related key stakeholders moving forward.

Mandate

The overall objective of the Survivor Support Consultations was to obtain input on DND/CAF’s plans to enhance resources and support programs for CAF survivors of sexual misconduct, and to ensure that plans to enhance support services for survivors reflect and integrate subject matter expertise.

Specifically, the consultations were to relate to:

  • development of a comprehensive Survivor Support Strategy framework and implementation plan
  • overall DND/CAF plans to enhance services for survivors and efforts to ensure that subject matter expertise is integrated
  • the DND/CAF’s strategy and plan for ongoing engagement with survivor stakeholders

Participants

Schedule N outlined a requirement for representation on the SSCG to include:

  • up to three representative class action plaintiffs (“Class Member Representatives”)
  • the Executive Director of the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC)
  • the Director General of the Directorate of Professional Military Conduct (DPMC)
  • other representatives from the DND/CAF with responsibilities related to support to survivors of sexual misconduct

Schedule N also identified a requirement for the work of the SSCG to be supported by up to three subject matter experts (SMEs).

Participants included:

  • The Reverend Sue Beare (Class Member Representative)
  • Larry Beattie (Class Member Representative)
  • Cassandra Elliott (Class Member Representative)
  • Dr. Denise Preston (Executive Director, SMRC)
  • Rear-Admiral Rebecca Patterson (Commander CF Health Services, formerly Director General, Professional Military Conduct)
  • Captain(N) (ret’d) Marie France Langlois (Policy Manager, CAF Transition Group)
  • Rick Goodwin (SME)
  • Myrna McCallum (SME)
  • Dr. Erin Whitmore (SME)

Secretariat Support

As lead coordinating body for the SSCG and broader Survivor Support Strategy, Secretariat support was provided by the SMRC. Staff members scheduled and facilitated meetings, coordinated presentations by DND/CAF representatives and SMEs, prepared Records of Meetings and other documents for review by the SSCG, responded to questions, and provided background information such as a preliminary draft Survivor Support Strategy prepared by the SMRC for consultation by the SSCG (see Annex 2, “Draft Sexual Misconduct Support Strategy Framework for Consultation with the SSCG”), and updates about policies on sexual misconduct as this information became available [e.g. The Path to Dignity and Respect: The CAF Sexual Misconduct Response Strategy (The Path), released 28 October 2020, and the Defence Administrative Orders and Directives (DAOD) 9005-1, Sexual Misconduct Response, released 18 November 2020].

Linkages to Key DND/CAF Commitments

The Schedule N work is a key cornerstone of work to guide the DND/CAF’s broader efforts to put in place a robust approach to support for CAF members affected by sexual misconduct, along with a stakeholder engagement framework.

Commitments to undertake such actions were reflected in Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy (2017) priorities, specifically:

  • Initiative 18: Complete the full implementation of the 10 recommendations of the Deschamps Report through Operation HONOUR.
  • Initiative 19: Provide a full range of victim and survivor support services to CAF members.
  • Initiative 21: Be open and transparent with Canadians and members of the CAF in communicating progress on this important issue.

The development of a Survivor Support Strategy and implementation plan was recommended in the 2018 OAG ReviewFootnote 22 and committed to in the DND response. Specifically, the DND/CAF committed to establishing “an integrated, national approach to victim support,” which would ensure that members have access to a consistent level of service and specialized support regardless of where they are serving. The DND affirmed that the strategy would:

  • be developed in partnership with Forces stakeholders and through consultation with SMEs and key external stakeholders, and that its implementation plan will identify a minimum level of service to be provided, and by whom, whether through internal or external service providers
  • specify the credentials and training requirements of all victim service providers, as well as quality assurance, evaluation, and complaint mechanisms
  • be informed by an intersectional gender-based analysis (GBA+) and tailored so that the unique needs of deployed members are considered and addressed as well as those of groups with distinct needs, such as: women; members of sexual and gender minority (SGM) communities; visible minorities; persons with disabilities; and Indigenous members

The DND is required to report to the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament and to the Defence Audit Committee on progress against these commitments.

A direct linkage to the development of the Support Strategy and Implementation Plan were included in Schedule N because it aligned specifically with the class member request to be consulted on enhancements to CAF supports to military members affected by sexual misconduct.

More recently, further commitments related to support were outlined in The Path (2020)Footnote 23 – in particular, through:

  • Strategic Objective 2.1: Improve support for affected persons (main effort)
    • S3. Access to civilian sexual assault centres for support funded
    • S6. Integrated approach to affected person support implemented
    • S7. Trauma-Informed training implemented
  • Strategic Objective 2.2: Optimize the accessibility and integration of support services
    • S8. Independent legal advice from civilian lawyer expert to victims available
    • R6. Options for Enhanced Reporting protocols investigated
  • Strategic Objective 3.1: Improve leadership response to incidents of sexual misconduct (affected persons)

Process and Approach

The work of the SSCG must be understood to reflect only the specific timeframe during which the consultation occurred; it reflects existing practices, policies, and initiatives in place at the time.

Changes made or contemplated as a result of recommendations made by reviews led by Justice Fish or Mme. Arbour will not be reflected here as these were not within the timeframe of the consultation period.

Start-up Meeting (26-27 February 2020)

A first formal meeting of the SSCG was held in winter 2020 in Ottawa. At that time, two of the three Class Member Representatives and two of the three Defence Team members who would form the consultation group had been identified. One Class Member attended in person and another by videoconference. Likewise, one Defence Team Representative attended in person and one by videoconference. Three support staff from the SMRC also attended the meeting, one of whom gave a presentation on the services provided by the SMRC.

The initial meeting focused on identifying preferences with respect to the selection of the remaining members of the Group, potential internal and/or external SMEs to support the work of the group, and priority areas of focus. A list of key guiding questions was provided in advance and is attached to this Summary Report (see Annex 3, “Initial Questions to Guide the Work of the SSCG”).

Planning

In March 2020, due to the effects of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and resultant direction from national, provincial, and local health authorities, all mass gatherings that put people in close contact were suspended. This new reality required parties to negotiate changes to the original Schedule N timelines and logistics for the SSCG. Going virtual meant that instead of meeting at in-person events, the work of the group shifted to a series of live virtual meetings and presentations using the online Zoom platform.

On 28 May 2020, the SSCG met to identify potential SMEs, as per the Schedule N requirement for the DND/CAF to present a list of no more than five SMEs and, using that list, for the SSCG to jointly select at least one, and up to three, SMEs to support these consultations. Based on the input received at the SSCG’s first meeting, the SMRC looked for experts who would have a wide range of skills and expertise, and could bring a unique perspective to support the SSCG to consider how the CAF might enhance its supports to survivors. The SSCG agreed upon the selection of the three SMEs to support the Group’s work: Rick Goodwin, Myrna McCallum, and Dr. Erin Whitmore (see Annex 4, “Subject Matter Expert Biographies”.)

On 11 June 2020, a work planning meeting was held. The SMRC presented its preliminary work to develop a draft framework for the Survivor Support Strategy as a starting point around which SSCG dialogue could potentially be based. The draft outlined a preliminary framework for consultative purposes built around four strategic priorities, eight core goals, and an overall vision (see Annex 2, “Draft Sexual Misconduct Support Strategy Framework for Consultation with the SSCG”). SSCG members discussed potential priority areas around which to focus its work together; prioritized a list of DND/CAF organizations from which to receive informational briefingsFootnote 24; and came to an agreement about a bi-weekly meeting schedule for the summer.

At its 8 July 2020 meeting, the SSCG finalized its priority areas of focus for future meetings and work, to include exploration of the following:

  • Continuity of care and support during CAF transitions
  • Training on trauma-informed approaches, including in relation to investigations and responding to disclosures
  • The need for specific resources, such as:
    • specialized sexual misconduct response teams at the regional level
    • a structured reporting/complaint mechanism and survivor support function tailored for helping professionals within the CAF to address abuse by and amongst helping professionals
  • While recognizing women as a specific population of survivors of sexual misconduct and the importance of talking about women’s distinct experiences of sexual misconduct in the CAF, finding ways to additionally address the needs of other specific groups of survivors in the CAF, such as:
    • Men
    • Indigenous peoples
    • 2SLGBTQ+
    • Reserve Force members and Canadian Rangers

At the same time, preliminary discussion was held on how best to engage and use the services of the three SMEs whose contracts were finalized and signed in early July. A schedule of informational briefings by CAF organizations to the SSCG and its SMEs was finalized.

At its 5 August 2020 meeting, SSCG members met with the three SMEs to hear about their respective areas of expertise and how their knowledge could be leveraged to address the group’s priorities. Each SME gave an overview of their respective expertise and experience in relation to identified priority areas.Footnote 25

  • Rick Goodwin: expertise on male sexual assault and abuse survivors
  • Myrna McCallum: expertise on human rights law and education on trauma informed advocacy, cultural humility, vicarious trauma and resilience as well as Indigenous inter- generational trauma
  • Dr. Erin Whitmore: expertise on advocacy against gender-based violence, research, policy analysis, program development and stakeholder engagement on issues related to sexual violence.

A workplan for each SME, along with a timeline setting out key milestones and deliverables consistent with the requirements of the FSA, were subsequently developed.

Informational Briefings (19 August – 10 December 2020)

The SSCG met for a series of informational briefings. Table 1 provides the full list of briefings, by date.

Table 1 – List of Informational Briefings to the SSCG, by date

27 February 2020/19 August 2020

Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC)

19 August 2020

Directorate Professional Military Conduct (DPMC)

2 September 2020

Royal Canadian Chaplain Service (RCChS)

2 September 2020

Canadian Forces Health Services (CFHS)

1 October 2020

CAF Transition Group (CAF TG)

1 October 2020

Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC)

15 October 2020

Integrated Conflict and Complaint Management (ICCM)

15 October 2020

Director General Military Personnel Research and Analysis (DGMPRA); presentation on findings from the 2019 Victim Support Study

29 October 2020 Canadian Military Prosecution Service (CMPS)
29 October 2020

Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS)

29 October 2020

Canadian Forces Military Police Group (CF MP Gp)

29 October 2020

Office of the Judge Advocate General (OJAG), Directorate of Law/ Military Justice – Policy

12 November 2020

Defence Advisory Groups:

  • Defence Visible Minority Advisory Group (DVMAG)
  • Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group (DAAG)
  • Defence Women’s Advisory Organization (DWAO)
  • Defence Advisory Group for Persons with Disabilities (DAGPWD)
  • Defence Team Pride Network
26 November 2020

Indigenous Advisor to the Chaplain General (IACG)

26 November 2020

Advisor to the Chaplain General for LGBTQ2+ Issues

10 December 2020

Reserves:

  • Army Reserves and Canadian Rangers
  • Naval Reserve
  • Health Services Reserve

The informational briefings were three hours each in duration. They were organized and facilitated by the SMRC and featured presentations by representatives of various CAF departments, services, and advisory committees. The presentations covered the structure of these entities and their responses to sexual misconduct. This format was used as a mechanism for reviewing the support services currently offered by the DND/CAF to CAF members affected by sexual misconduct and any planned enhancements.

Each presenter was given a list of standard questions to guide its informational briefing; these included top of mind questions related to the work of the SSCG (see Annex 5, “Standard Questions Provided to DND/CAF Organizations to Guide Informational Briefings Provided to the SSCG”).

Staff of the SMRC attended and took notes. The Agendas for the informational briefings may be consulted at Annex  6.

In addition to providing informational briefings, several speakers sent written correspondence to respond to follow-up questions posed by SSCG members. Further, some organizations participated in follow-up discussions by phone or videoconference.

SME Presentations and Reports (February – June 2021)

Each SME provided a presentation to the SSCG. One presentation was scheduled per meeting to allow sufficient time for discussion. The presentations occurred following completion of all briefings by the DND/CAF and other invited guest speakers.

During their presentations, the SMEs addressed questions specific to some of their key areas of expertise. To ensure that the presentations would meet the needs of and respond to questions of central importance to the SSCG, SMEs were provided in advance with a list of 10 guiding questions that the SSCG wished SMEs to reflect upon and/or address when developing their presentations (see Annex 7, “Standard Questions Provided to SMEs to Guide Development of Presentations to the SSCG”).

Additionally, the subject matter experts provided reports outlining considerations and recommendations related to support and engagement on key priority areas as identified by the SSCG (see Table 2, “SME Presentations and Reports”). The full reports of the SMEs are provided at Annex 8.

Table 2 – SME Presentations and Reports

Expert Presentation Topics Report
Myrna McCallum What types of approaches and practices are necessary to ensure that military justice processes are trauma-informed with respect to: reporting; investigations; and trials? (11 February 2021)

“SME Report and Recommendations (Indigenous Survivor Focused)” (2 June 2021)

Rick Goodwin How does gender affect experiences of male victimization and the expression of trauma? How could such considerations be included when designing or enhancing supports for male- identified survivors of sexual violence in the military? What could be done to help address barriers to help-seeking and reporting for male-identified survivors? (18 February 2021) “Final Report to the SSCG” (26 May 2021)
Dr. Erin Whitmore What are some best practices in supporting gender and sexual minorities who are survivors of sexual violence? What best practices should be considered for all survivors? (22 April 2021) “Supporting Survivors of Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces: Recommendations to Inform the Development of the Survivor Support Strategy” (28 May 2021)

Next Steps

This report is not the final step in the approach for the development of a Survivor Support strategy. There are additional steps that must be taken in order to ensure that it is a comprehensive approach and considers all factors.

Bring together all organizations in the DND/CAF who provide support to survivors and their families. The SSCG had to prioritize briefings; it did not hear from the complete range of service providers across the DND/CAF. Currently, there are many potential “doors in” for CAF members affected by sexual misconduct who are seeking support, and a range of service providers with whom an affected member may interact. Some services and resources have an explicit focus related to sexual misconduct as reflected, for example, in their role, specialized expertise, and/or training. Others are more general in nature; while not specifically focused on sexual misconduct, they form part of the broader landscape of support that CAF members can access to meet a variety of needs.

Definition and consistent use of terms. Language at times created barriers or took energy and focus from other issues – specifically, the lack of agreed-upon definitions for terms such as “trauma-informed” or “intersectional”. That is why the SSCG’s recommendations include a call for collaborative work – within the DND/CAF and with other stakeholders – to precisely define terms that will form part of the Survivor Support Strategy and Implementation Plan and to consistently use these to the greatest extent possible.

Conduct broader consultations. The SSCG followed the consultation process that was agreed to in Schedule N of the Final Settlement Agreement. Schedule N provided for up to three SMEs; at times, the SSCG felt that it may have been beneficial to have a fuller range and complement of SMEs, both to provide additional bases of expertise upon which to draw and to minimize the burden on individual SMEs to “speak for” the needs of specific groups. The same holds true for the participating class members, as Schedule N provided for up to three class members but a broader range and complement here could likewise have opened up additional perspectives and dialogue. The SSCG recognizes that broader engagement is a necessary and critical next step as part of refining and implementing the recommendations.

Logic Model

Logic models are used as visual depictions of the ways in which an initiative achieves its intended outcomes.Footnote 26 The logic model for the Schedule N Survivor Support Consultation is provided at Annex 9 (“Logic Model – Schedule N – Victim/Survivor Support Consultations”). It outlines the assumptions, activities, outputs, as well as the immediate, intermediate, and ultimate outcomes of the Schedule N work.

Timelines and Deliverables

As per Schedule N, the SSCG was tasked to provide a Summary Report on its work, including any resulting recommendations, to the CDS and DM of National Defence by 25 June 2021.Footnote 27 Following receipt of a formal response by the DND/CAF to the SSCG’s recommendations by 23 July 2021, the SSCG is to deliver its Final Report to the CDS and DM by 24 September 2021.
The SSCG’s Final Report must include any formal recommendations made and the DND/CAF’s response; the report is to be translated and made public by 23 November 2021. See Figure 1, “Visual Timeline”.

Figure 1, Visual Timeline, Work of the SSCG

Infographic, long description below
  • Long description

    Timeline

    • July-Dec 2020
      • Engagement with DND/CAF groups providing services/programs to survivors
    • Jan-May 2021
      • SME briefings on respective expertise
      • Development of Consultation Gruop Summary Report
    • June-July 2021
      • Consultation Group provides an initial Summary Report to DND/CAF
      • +30 days DND/CAF to provide a formal response
    • Aug 2021
      • Consultation Group delivers final Summary Report on to DM/CDS
      • +60 days, report translated and made public
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