Supporting Survivors and Delivering Meaningful Culture Change


May 11, 2023 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

The Department of National Defence (DND) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) continue to advance programs and initiatives to support survivors of sexual misconduct and to address the root causes of harmful behaviour.

Sexual Misconduct Support and Resource Centre – Support to Survivors

The independent Sexual Misconduct Support and Resource Centre (SMSRC) provides support services and referrals to serving and former members of the CAF and DND public service employees who are affected by sexual misconduct. The SMSRC also provides advice and guidance to supervisors, managers, and the military chain of command.

Formerly known as the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre, the SMSRC has officially changed its name to better reflect its mandate, as recommended by the Independent External Comprehensive Review (IECR) Report of Madame Louise Arbour. The SMSRC continues to support those affected by sexual misconduct through developing and delivering important programs and services.

The SMSRC provides expert advice, guidance and recommendations to the Defence Team on all matters related to sexual misconduct, operating outside of, and independently, from the military chain of command. SMSRC reports directly to the Deputy Minister. An External Advisory Council supports the SMSRC’s subject matter expertise.

The SMSRC's work is supported by the 2021 Federal Budget, which included major announcements related to sexual misconduct in the CAF. It outlined initial investments of $59.7 million over five years to expand the SMSRC's support services.

An Independent Legal Assistance (ILA) program was launched on May 11, 2023 to provide current and former CAF members, as well as those individuals that are part of the wider Defence community who have experienced sexual misconduct from a CAF member, with access to legal assistance so that individuals can make informed decisions based on their specific circumstances, needs and goals.

Individuals who have experienced sexual misconduct and who have sought or are seeking legal assistance relating to the incident(s), can submit a reimbursement application for up to four hours of legal information and advice. Legal fees for legal representation during criminal proceedings where a victim has the right to be represented by a lawyer may also be eligible for reimbursement. $3.1M has been attributed so far to fund the initial phase of the program.

Those interested in applying for reimbursements may call the SMSRC’s 24/7 line at 1-844-750-1648 to speak with a counsellor who can provide additional information and refer them to the program.

The SMSRC has also launched a call-out to invite members of the wider Defence community affected by sexual misconduct to participate in a community consultation group. Feedback, discussion and recommendations from these groups will help to ensure that SMSRC programs, services and activities are informed by, and consider the needs of, those affected by sexual misconduct. Those interested in participating can complete an expression of interest form and submit it to by June 23, 2023, for the first round of consultation sessions in Fall 2023.

The SMSRC has now expanded their services to include Cadets, Junior Canadian Rangers and family members of the wider Defence community, who are aged 16 and above. This expansion ensures that Cadets and Junior Canadian Rangers and family members are offered services consistent with best practices for supporting those who have experienced sexual misconduct.

The SMSRC has also continued to expand its Response and Support Coordination program to have teams available in locations across Canada to provide regional and local services. To date, Response and Support Coordinators are located in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. In the future, The SMSRC looks forward to establishing teams in other provinces and territories to support clients across Canada. RSCs will continue to support individuals in all provinces and territories while new teams are established.

On March 22, 2023, the SMSRC announced funding to 30 community-based service providers for 32 projects through the Community Support for Sexual Misconduct Survivors Grant Program.  The program funds projects led by not-for-profit Canadian, community-based service providers with the capacity and expertise to provide services to those affected by sexual misconduct. Examples of such services include:  

  •  sexual assault centres
  • virtual platforms
  • research and academia
  • counselling services

The SMSRC continues to work with Veterans Affairs Canada on developing a comprehensive peer support program offering flexibility to those wishing to participate. Beginning in June of this year, they will be holding formal group sessions, co-facilitated by a Peer Facilitator with lived experience, as well as a clinical social worker. Feedback on the framework, approach, and interactions will be gathered. The initial group sessions will cover a variety of topics and help inform the longer-term formal peer support model. Information on how to become a Peer Facilitator and how to participate in the program will be shared as soon as it becomes available.

The SMSRC also conducts the following activities:

  • provides subject matter expertise, evaluation and validation for DND and CAF training on sexual misconduct, including advising the Respect in the CAF Training Team;
  • conducts research on the prevention of sexual misconduct;
  • administers the Restorative Engagement program that provides options for members of the CAF-DND Sexual Misconduct Class Action Settlement to share experiences, knowledge and understanding of sexual misconduct in DND and the CAF;
  • administers a Sexual Assault Centre Contribution Program that supports community-based sexual assault centres.

Chief, Professional Conduct and Culture (CPCC) – Delivering meaningful culture change

CPCC is the organization guiding DND/CAF’s cultural evolution efforts. Since its inception in Spring 2021, CPCC has consulted with over 14,000 Defence Team members, and launched several initiatives with the aim of creating lasting change throughout the institution. These initiatives are designed to make our workplaces more positive and respectful, and our military forces as effective as possible in our mission to defend Canada.

Key to advancing this work is proactively preventing the harmful behaviours that create conflict and repairing fractured relationships when misconduct occurs. Three such approaches are the Leadership Support Team, the Defence Team Coaching Program, and Restorative Services:

  • The Leadership Support Team (LST) helps unit leadership create psychologically safe, collaborative, and inclusive work environments. Created in Fall 2021, the program provides advice on best practices, coaching, and access to subject matter experts to evolve mindsets and broaden perspectives. Focus is placed on basic-level training where recruits and officer candidates are introduced to the CAF. An initial trial was conducted in Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School, St-Jean, Que. in Spring 2022, that resulted in an updated design and the integration of military personnel within the team to create a better balance between civilian coaching experts and military expertise. A second series of trials to refine the program has been underway since February 2023. Budget 2022 provided $25.3M over five years to expand the LST and Defence Coaching Program.
  • Since 2017, the Defence Team Coaching Program (DTCP) has provided individual, team and group coaching programs. Participants are Military Officers and Non-Commissioned Members who are developing their managerial and leadership skills, as well as civilian executive employees who are selected to participate. DTCP also provides coaching services to Canadian Force College students and staff in Toronto. Leaders work directly with certified coaches who help develop their understanding of emotional intelligence using psychometrics to assess their psychological traits and expand their skills. Coaches help leaders achieve specific goals and develop strategies that help their subordinates develop The Fall 2022 individual coaching program saw 384 participants who met their coaches for eight sessions. This cohort is scheduled to complete their program at the end of May 2023. There are currently three team coaching sessions underway, which are expected to conclude in August 2023.
  • When harm has occurred, Restorative Services facilitates a voluntary forum for affected parties to meet and rebuild that relationship in a safe and supportive environment. The Defence Team member who has experienced harm also has the option to meet with an institutional representative, should they request this. Budget 2022 allocated $7.2M over five years for expanding restorative services, with $1.5M of ongoing funding to provide increased support and new avenues to address and repair harm, restore individual relationships (where possible), strengthen teams, rebuild trust, and promote long-lasting institutional change. The response to restorative services has been very positive and we are building capacity. Since the program’s creation, over 165 cases have been addressed. We plan on doubling our capacity to deliver restorative approaches by 2024.

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