The Vice Chief of the Defence Staff addresses Statistics Canada 2018 Survey on Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces

News release

May 22, 2019 —  Ottawa —  National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

The Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, Lieutenant-General Paul Wynnyk, today addressed the results of the 2018 Statistics Canada Survey on Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

The survey asked members about their experiences and their perceptions of sexual misconduct within the CAF, and their perceptions of the CAF’s efforts to address sexual misconduct.

The survey was conducted by Statistics Canada from September to November 2018. Eligible members in both Regular Force and Primary Reserve were invited by email to complete an online questionnaire.

More than 36,000 responses were collected from Regular Force and Primary Reserve CAF members, representing 44% of the CAF population.

The survey provides the CAF with a detailed picture of the scope, prevalence and nature of the problem of sexual misconduct, and offers some comparisons with benchmark data collected in 2016.

Summary of key findings

Sexual assault

Rates of sexual assault (sexual attack, unwanted sexual touching, or sexual activity where unable to consent) in the military workplace or involving military members in the Regular Force and Primary Reserves are not statistically different from 2016.

  • 1.6% of all Regular Force members and 2.2% of Primary Reservists indicated that they had been sexually assaulted in the context of the military workplace during the previous 12 months.
  • Unwanted sexual touching was the most common form of sexual assault (88% of Regular Force incidents; 86% of Primary Reserve incidents).
  • As was the case in 2016, the prevalence of sexual assault among women in the Canadian Armed Forces is higher than that among men (4.3% Regular Force women compared with 1.1% men; 7.0% of Primary Reserve women compared with 1.2% of men.)

Sexualized and discriminatory behaviours

Fewer members witnessed or experienced sexualized and discriminatory behaviour in the 12 months prior to the survey.

  • 70% of Regular Force members and 71% of Primary Reserve members saw, heard or experienced sexualized or discriminatory behaviour in the military workplace, compared with 80% Regular Force and 82% Primary Reserve in 2016.
  • As was the case in 2016, the most common behaviours witnessed or experienced were sexual jokes (65% for Regular Force members and also for Primary Reservists).

Knowledge and perception of policies and responses to sexual misconduct

Awareness of Operation HONOUR is extremely high among Regular Force and Primary Reserve members, and most are optimistic about Operation HONOUR’s effectiveness:

  • 94% of Regular Force members and 91% of Reservists continue to have very high awareness of Operation HONOUR.  
  • Almost half of both Regular Force and Primary Reserve members (45% in each case) felt that Operation HONOUR has been very or extremely effective.
  • Approximately half of Regular Force members (49%) and Primary Reservists (51%) feel that Operation HONOUR will be very or extremely effective moving forward. This represents a significant increase since 2016 when results for the same question were 32% Regular Force and 29% Primary Reserve.

Most members have a positive view of CAF responses to sexual misconduct:

  • A large majority of members felt that complaints about inappropriate sexual behaviour are (or would be) taken seriously in their current unit (94% Regular Force; Primary Reserve 83%); that inappropriate sexual behaviour is not tolerated in their unit (94% Regular Force; 83% Primary Reserve), and that the CAF currently works hard to create a workplace that prevents inappropriate sexual behaviour (93% for both Regular Force and Primary Reserve).

The CAF is reviewing and analyzing the survey results to determine how it can enhance efforts to address and prevent sexual misconduct, better support and assist victims, and effect lasting culture change by changing harmful attitudes and beliefs. 


The number of personnel who continue to be affected by sexual misconduct is completely unacceptable. We have made some positive headway in some areas but it is clear that we need to do more to change the harmful behaviours and attitudes at the root of this issue. While overall we are dissatisfied with the lack of improvement, we are encouraged to see that our members have confidence in the work we are doing and believe it will make a difference. This is an essential element of achieving culture change, and we will build on this momentum as we work to realign our institutional culture with our core values of dignity and respect.

Lieutenant-General Paul Wynnyk, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff

Sexual misconduct is incredibly harmful and corrosive to our people. For the past four years, we have been working hard to create the respectful workplace that our members both deserve and need in order to accomplish the tasks Canadians ask of us. Although this report shows that awareness of this problem has increased, more work is needed to solve it. In particular, we have to do a better job at looking after those affected by sexual misconduct. Those who engage in sexual misconduct are not welcome in the Profession of Arms, and with my colleagues, I will continue our work to end this threat.

Chief Warrant Officer Alain Guimond 

The Stats Can surveys are a critical tool to inform, evaluate, and guide ‎the CAF's efforts to address sexual misconduct. This survey highlights some positive movement, as well as a number of areas that need more work. The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre will work with, and provide advice to, the CAF to address these issues, to better support affected members and enhance prevention efforts.

Dr. Denise Preston, Executive Director, Sexual Misconduct Response Centre, Department of Defence

Associated links


Department of National Defence
Media Relations
Phone: 613-996-2353

Statistics Canada
Media Relations
Phone: 613-951-4636

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