Chief of the Defence Staff Visits the Canadian Forces Grievance Board

September 3, 2009

General Natynczyk (left) with the Board Chairperson, Mr. Bruno Hamel.

General Natynczyk (left) with the Board Chairperson, Mr. Bruno Hamel.

The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), General Walter Natynczyk, visited the Canadian Forces Grievance Board (CFGB) on September 3 where he exchanged ideas with staff members about the military grievance system and thanked the Board for "serving the men and women who serve in Canada and abroad."

General Natynczyk also presented the Board with the CDS Coin as a token of appreciation for the CFGB's dedication and professionalism.

"The Board is key" to the CF complaint resolution system, said the CDS as he addressed the staff after a brief meeting with the Chairperson Bruno Hamel in the Board's offices in downtown Ottawa. "I am very pleased to be here today and meet you all," he added.

The CDS praised the Board for its contribution to the resolution of military grievances, a process that involves dealing with "a complex system of legislation, Treasury Board guidelines and CF policies developed over time." He acknowledged the challenges of sifting through these regulations while trying to resolve complaints in a fair and timely manner. He also emphasized that the expectation of a fair treatment in respect of a complaint is an underlying part of morale and Esprit de Corps.

"The Board's input is needed" he said, not only because the CFGB provides an external review of grievances, but also because, while doing this and by interpreting policies and their application, the Board helps the CF in evaluating the fairness and soundness of those rules.

The Canadian Forces Grievance Board reviews military grievances referred to it by the CDS and provides findings and recommendations to the CDS and the member who submitted the grievance. The CDS is the final decision-maker on the grievance.

Answering a staff member question about delays in resolving grievances, General Natynczyk reiterated that timeliness is a primary concern for him. He said that the 2003 recommendation made in an independent review of the military justice system by former Justice Antonio Lamer to complete the review of a grievance in one year is "good" but still "too long," and efforts must be made to significantly reduce these delays. As the highest ranking officer in the CF and the final authority in the grievance process, the CDS said it is important for him that a grievance is resolved in a timely manner so it is relevant and does have a real impact on the grievor's conditions of service.

The CDS also said that he likes to stay closely involved in the grievance process. "I like to know what's going on and where the frictions are." Whenever he sees a trend, he said, he refers the issue to the responsible authority and directs that this particular issue be reviewed.

"My goal is to have grievances resolved as quickly, efficiently and as fairly as possible", he added.

"I am a part of your team and I truly appreciate your services," concluded the CDS before enjoying coffee and refreshments with the staff.

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