Canadian Armed Forces recourse and complaint mechanisms


This information will help CAF members find information about available recourse and help them decide which resolution process is best for them.

CAF recourse and complaint mechanisms

We are also working on recourse and complaint mechanism information related to careers, compensation and benefits, discrimination, health and official languages.

Recourse options

As a CAF member, you have different recourse options at your disposal depending on the type of problem you are facing. These options involve specific processes, responsibilities, authorities, and eligibility criteria.

It is important you understand the purpose and limitations of each of these recourse options. This will help you make informed decisions about which option is appropriate to address your concerns. Choosing the right one will resolve the issue more quickly, saving you valuable time, effort, and stress.

You have the right to directly access the grievance process to address concerns related to a decision that has impacted you.  However, there may be instances where the desired outcome cannot be achieved using the grievance process because there may be another process that is more suitable to address your complaint. You will often find these recourse processes described in CAF policies and directives. These descriptions include eligibility criteria, roles and responsibilities, and timelines. When you are considering how to address an issue, you need to take these factors into account.

Points of contact

The Defence community has several contacts who can offer information, referral, and assistance in addressing your concerns.

For many issues, especially those of an administrative nature, unit orderly room staff are an excellent source of information. Although they may not have the authority to solve the issue, orderly room staff can provide information on any related policy or process.

Write a summary of your issue with a timeline. Be sure to include any decisions that have been taken and by whom. Note as well the steps you have taken in response. Having this information organized and ready to share is important when you raise your concerns and request a resolution.

If appropriate, you can request a meeting with your chain of command to discuss your concerns. This will allow you to share these concerns as well as your desired resolution. Such a meeting will also ensure your chain of command knows the facts required to assess your case and determine if it can be resolved informally.  Where possible, keep a copy of any information, decisions communications received in writing.You can also contact the Conflict and Complaint Management Services (CCMS) offices for information and help. They can advise you about how to prepare for a meeting with your supervisor or chain of command to discuss your concerns. CCMS offices can also inform you about informal resolutions options and formal complaints.

For some recourse processes, there are individuals who are designated to assist CAF members in navigating these processes. If you are considering a specific recourse to address a concern, ask a CCMS agent whether this type of support is available to you.

How the Ombudsman can help

Everything you share with us is confidential. You can contact our office anonymously for information. If we must contact someone about your complaint, we will ask for your signed consent to allow us to discuss your issue with other relevant parties. In all cases, you decide if you want to proceed with your complaint.

Everyone’s situation is unique. As a result, you and every other CAF member may be affected differently. Depending on the situation, sensitive topics may require discretion and may be a barrier to coming forward.

If there are exceptional reasons that prevent you from addressing any concerns through regular channels, such as time sensitivity, health, security, financial concerns, or other barriers, you or any member of your family can contact our office.

If compelling reasons exist, with your written permission, our office can ensure that all relevant parties know about your circumstances. We do not have the power to change the decision. However, we can make recommendations if we believe that you were treated unfairly within the process.

Member and Family Assistance services are also available to assist you in coping with a stressful work-related situation.

Systemic review

Page details

Date modified: