Executive Summary

The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces are jointly committed to the health and wellness of every member of the Defence Team. Members of the profession of arms and the broader Defence Team provide a unique service to Canadian society in the defence of the nation and in promotion of Canadian interests and values. This unique role obliges the Government of Canada to safeguard the health and wellness of the Defence Team, not only to recognize their tireless efforts, but to enable mission success.

The Defence Team Total Health and Wellness Strategy presents a renewed approach to the way we care for our people. This strategy focuses on improving the wellness of the Defence Team for a strengthened workforce, best able to meet the varied challenges of both work and life. Wellness contributes to mission success by providing the organization with the skilled, fit, and motivated personnel it needs to maintain operational effectiveness. People who are well are more empowered, productive, and engaged, which is critical given the high operational tempo of the business of Defence. This strategy affirms the Government of Canada’s support for the health and wellness of the Defence Team through its Defence Policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged. It is also aligned with the Defence Team Human Resources Strategy, striving to optimize the work- force, increase operational and institutional effectiveness, and ensure that the DND/CAF is an employer of choice within Canadian society.

A comprehensive (or total) approach to health must recon- cile three competing aspects of life: Work life (physical work environment and psychosocial work environment); Personal life (family, financial, social/cultural environment and physical living environment); and Individual health (physical, mental and spiritual health). There will rarely be adequate time in any day to achieve all of the obligations tied to work and personal life as well as individual health. Wellness is about finding an optimal strategy to prioritize and manage competing demands across all dimensions of health. The Defence Team Total Health and Wellness Strategy builds on cutting edge work in previous strategies, programs, and services that have led the charge on supporting a holistic approach to health and wellness. It aims to align and build on these initiatives by taking a Defence Team-wide approach to create the necessary conditions to empower our CAF members and Defence civilians to better balance competing demands at work and at home.

The Defence Team Total Health and Wellness Strategy places an unprecedented focus on creating a healthy work environment as a cornerstone for supporting Defence Team well-being. Healthy workplaces optimize psychosocial and physical factors that influence human performance, personal work experiences and overall wellness. Improving the psychosocial work environment involves not only ensuring compliance with legislation (e.g. Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention (Bill C-65) or the Canadian Human Rights Act) but enhancing the quality of interactions with coworkers and supervisors. Incivility, toxic leaders, job stress, discrimination, racism and harassment are linked to psychological distress, reduced productivity, absenteeism and turnover. Further, a healthy workplace requires inclusivity, diversity, supportive infra- structure as well as programs and services that promote professionalism and a respectful working environment, thereby enabling full engagement and uncompromised focus on work obligations.

Individuals’ health and wellness needs vary greatly and are influenced by many factors inside and outside of the workplace, such as gender, ethnicity, biology, and socioeconomic status—which can shape the health and wellness needs of Defence Team members. The Defence Team Total Health and Wellness Strategy is comprehensive in scope, presenting a renewed approach to the care of people that includes both professional and personal life. To the extent possible, it considers a full spectrum of health and wellness activities ranging from prevention initiatives (health promotion and education), to assessment, care and support. However, the Defence Team

consists of individuals working under a variety of employment arrangements governed by different contracts and legislation. The intent of the strategy is to be as inclusive as possible; policy, contracting and legislative differences will however, result in unavoidable practical differences regarding how the benefits of the strategy may be realized.

The Defence Team Total Health and Wellness Strategy is a holistic strategy that will drive positive behaviour and culture change to empower individuals and enable leaders with supportive organizational policies, programs, and services through five Lines of Effort (LOEs):

  • LOE 1: Communicate, Educate, Collaborate
  • LOE 2: Strengthen Governance
  • LOE 3: Enable a Healthier Workplace
  • LOE 4: Improve Access to Care and Support
  • LOE 5: Align and Integrate

Each LOE has one or more strategic objectives that collectively define the core change agenda for the Defence Team Total Health and Wellness Strategy. A total of 16 strategic objectives have been identified for the strategy as outlined later in the document.

The strategy also includes an Action Plan (Annex A) that defines 40 distinct initiatives that are aimed at addressing critical capability deficiencies and improving the balance, integration, and alignment of health and wellness efforts across the institution. Investments in the health and well- ness of the Defence Team include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Enhance Health Services for ill and injured service personnel by increasing support to occupational therapy and case management;
  • Enable virtual care platforms to support secure and convenient health communications options for patients;
  • Use of cutting-edge behavioural science research to create positive health changes through ‘nudges’;
  • Build a Health Monitoring Dashboard to track Defence Team health and wellness indicators for continuous improvement;
  • Grow the civilian Office of Disability Management;
  • Achieve Full Operational Capability of the Return to Work and Return to Duty Programs;
  • Modernize the Military Family Support Program;
  • Develop Total Health and Wellness
  • Sub-Committee Governance Framework that connects with Base and Wing health and wellness committees; and
  • Operationalize the Integrated Conflict and Complaint Management program.

The Defence Team Total Health and Wellness Strategy emphasizes our collective role in creating the necessary conditions for a healthy and supportive work environment through our choices and behaviours, regardless of rank or position. Every member of the Defence Team must take ownership for their individual health and well- ness. In turn, leaders influence the work environment by ensuring fairness, managing workloads, fostering positive relationships and balancing the needs of individuals against the needs of the DND/CAF. Through the implementation of action plans associated with the LOEs in this strategy, the DND/CAF will ensure leaders are enabled to prioritize health and wellness initiatives that will benefit both individuals and contribute to the overall success of the DND/CAF.

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