The future of professional conduct and culture change in Canada’s Defence Team
April 29, 2021 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces
Defence culture and professional conduct must reflect the core values and ethical principles we aspire to uphold as a national institution. That is what members, veterans, recruits, public servants and Canadians expect and deserve. We each have a personal responsibility to create an environment that is free from violence, harassment and discrimination of all forms, and the Chief Professional Conduct and Culture group is going to help ensure we meet that standard.
This new group will unify and integrate all associated culture change activities across the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and become the centre of expertise and single functional authority for professional conduct and culture. It will be led by Lieutenant-General Jennie Carignan who will be directly supported by an Assistant Deputy Minister. The initial team will be inclusive of members of all ranks and classifications and will emulate the diversity that Canadians expect.
Taking informed action now
This group will enable the implementation of a number of changes immediately, including:
- Closing out Operation HONOUR, understanding what did not work and why, and leveraging the valuable research that came from it into this renewed effort. In the meantime, all of the available resources, supports, policies, and procedures remain applicable and available to all members of the Defence Team;
- Developing mechanisms for the implementation of the Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations of Bill C-65; and
- Supporting the implementation of the amendments to the National Defence Act introduced in Bill C-77, including the Declaration of Victims Rights.
The way ahead
This team will establish a framework that will help to achieve the following:
- Realign responsibilities, policies, and programs that address elements of *systemic misconduct across the DND/CAF;
- Simplify and enhance misconduct reporting mechanisms, including for those external to the Chain of Command;
- Give greater agency to, and strengthen support mechanisms for, those who have experienced misconduct, as well as other affected people;
- Enhance tracking mechanisms from initial reports of misconduct to case closures, and integrate additional data points such as intersectionality, reprisals, member satisfaction, and retention; and
- Lead institutional efforts to develop a professional conduct and culture framework that holistically tackles all types of discrimination, harmful behaviour, biases, and systemic barriers.
Listening is paramount
This work will incorporate what we hear from those impacted by misconduct into the actions that we undertake to change the culture. We will listen to our people at all levels, in all regions of the country. These lived experiences and suggestions will guide the Chief Professional Conduct and Culture’s actions, solutions, and decision-making to eliminate discrimination, biases, harmful stereotypes, and systemic barriers.
This team will work in concert with groups across DND/CAF that are already making progress towards building healthy, safe, and inclusive work environments, while also capitalizing on ongoing consultations, conversations, external and independent reviews, and analysis. Research, expertise, and complementary strategies and initiatives from which the team can benefit include: GBA+, Total Health & Wellness Strategy, Integrated Conflict and Complaint Management, Anti-Racism Secretariat, CAF Diversity Strategy, Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy, and Canada’s National Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security.
We will incorporate and implement changes recommended by Madame Louise Arbour through the Independent External Comprehensive Review, including interim assessments and recommendations.
The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre will continue to be an external body, independent from the Canadian Armed Forces Chain of Command, providing support to affected people, expert advice, and monitoring progress in addressing sexual misconduct. Budget 2021 provides new funding to expand our work to eliminate sexual misconduct and gender-based violence in the military and support survivors. We will be announcing more about this in the coming weeks.
*Note: Systemic misconduct is a term deliberately chosen, both to convey the gravity of these prejudicial behaviours listed below, and to indicate that these problems go beyond individual failures and are imbedded in institutional systems and practices. Systemic misconduct refers to: sexual misconduct, hateful conduct, any form of discrimination, harassment and violence, employment inequity, and abuse of power in the workplace.
Office of the Minister of National Defence
Department of National Defence
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