DND/CAF Ombudsman sample cases
These sample cases explain what you could expect when you contact our office with a complaint or question. They are provided for information purposes only and do not replace official policy or procedures.
Each person’s situation is unique. Our approach, and how we address your concerns, will be tailored to your circumstances.
For more information, contact us.
Twelve days after returning from a six-month deployment, a Regular Force member learned that they would be posted out of the province. The member requested a compassionate statusFootnote 6 in order to stay in their current city to deal with family, financial, and health issues.
The member's social worker and chain of command supported the member's compassionate request. However, the approving authority at the Director Military Careers (D Mil C) denied the request, explaining that it did not meet the eligibility criteria set out in applicable policy. The member asked our office to help clarify the reason for denying the request.
An investigator from our office contacted D Mil C, who explained that a compassionate status can only be granted to deal with exceptional personal circumstances. As many CAF members deal with similar circumstances and resources were available at the new posting location, the member's situation was not considered exceptional. D Mil C offered to reconsider the decision if new information was provided that met the criteria.
Our office ensured fairness in this case by helping the member obtain an explanation of the decision from D Mil C as well as a better understanding of the policy. As a result, the member was aware of the necessary steps to take to ensure a successful relocation. The member proceeded with the posting, aware of the local resources available to address their family, financial, and health issues.
Contingency Cost Move
A Regular Force member contacted our office with concerns about their compassionate postingFootnote 6 request.
In 2018, the member was struggling with mental health concerns to the point of being considered for medical release. Their spouse was also diagnosed with mental health issues. The member requested a compassionate posting to Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Borden or CFB Petawawa where they had family support. The member’s request was supported by the chain of command, psychiatrist, and psychologist. However, the social worker did not support the request.
The member asked our office to intervene because the process had stalled and they were concerned the request would be denied.
To ensure a timely response from the approving authority, an Investigator from our office contacted the local Canadian Armed Forces Transition Centre, formerly the Joint Personnel Support Unit, and the approving authority, Director Military Careers (D Mil C), to clarify the status of the member’s request. The investigator learned that the career manager was waiting for documents from the Transition Centre’s Commanding Officer and the Base Surgeon before sending the request to D Mil C for a decision.
The investigator helped to resolve the issue informally by clarifying what information was missing for D Mil C to make a decision. Once all the missing information was provided, D Mil C determined the member met the criteria for a contingency cost moveFootnote 5. As a result, a move to CFB Borden was approved.
Military Housing and Residential Housing Units
A Regular Force member attended a pre-deployment activity organized by their base. A number of agencies attended, offering services such as vehicle storage and home monitoring. During this activity, the member entered into a contract with a home monitoring service because the member expected to be deployed soon. The company was to be responsible for monitoring the member’s Residential Housing Unit (RHU) twice per week. The member said they informed the front desk representative at the local office of the Canadian Forces Housing Agency (CFHA) about hiring the monitoring service. The member recalled being assured by the CFHA representative that no additional paperwork was required and the arrangements made were suitable.
While on deployment, the furnace in the member’s RHU malfunctioned, lowering the unit’s temperature to the point where the pipes froze. The contracted monitoring service notified CFHA, who ordered emergency repairs. Once the repairs were complete, CFHA determined that member neglect caused the damages. (According to the CFHA, the home monitoring service was not conducting daily inspections of the RHU, in accordance with the CHFA Occupant Handbook.) As a result, the Agency billed the member over $1,000 for the repairs.
The member made efforts to negotiate with the local branch of the CFHA, offering to pay half the bill. The Agency refused the proposal. The member believed CFHA was treating them unfairly, and contacted our office. We referred the member to existing mechanisms, suggesting the member escalate the matter with a complaint to CFHA’s head office. The member followed the correct complaint process, but the head office’s review reached a similar conclusion. The member therefore contacted us again. We reviewed this case to determine if the member had been treated fairly.
After reviewing the facts, we found the CFHA had not treated the member fairly for the following reasons:
- The presence of the home monitoring service at the pre-deployment activity gave the impression of a Canadian Armed Forces endorsement, which the member relied upon in contracting the service.
- The contract agreement met most insurance and industry standards.Footnote *
- The member made efforts to confirm with CFHA staff that the company met Agency requirements since their personnel were not present at the pre-deployment meeting. In addition, the member was not told otherwise upon informing the CFHA that they had contracted with the company.
- The costs for a daily inspection of the RHU would have been excessive.
We asked CFHA to revisit the decision, given that our investigation uncovered additional factors. In response, CFHA proposed to “find a resolution as a demonstration of good faith.” The Agency agreed that incorrect information might have misled the member during the pre-deployment activity. For our part, given that we make every effort to resolve issues at the most effective level, we recommended the CFHA contact the member directly. A subsequent discussion between the CFHA and the member led to an agreement whereby the Agency reduced the member’s repayment to half of the amount of the original bill
A Regular Force member facing financial hardship asked our office for help in addressing the recovery of their specialist pay.
The member was a technician in a specialist occupation3, and received specialist pay from July to November 2017. Later, the member was told that that an error occurred and that they were not entitled to specialist pay since they were not yet qualified in their position. As a result, the overpayment of $2,500 would be recovered in one lump sum.
The member was a single parent, so the recovery action would have resulted in a great deal of financial stress.
Shortly after learning about the recovery action, the member completed the specialist position qualification and became entitled to specialist pay. However, there was a delay in processing the pay rate change. This caused the member even more distress.
Our office intervened in this case because of the compelling2 nature of the member’s situation. One of our Investigators spoke with the member’s Chief Clerk and the Director Military Pay and Allowances Processing (DMPAP) about the member’s pay problems. They arranged for the member to repay the $2,500 in smaller amounts over a longer period, which reduced the financial stress on the member. In addition, they had the pay rate corrected so that the member received the specialist pay owed.
In 2017, a Regular Force member asked our office for assistance after the CAF pension authority denied a service buyback request submitted past the deadline.
In speaking with one of our Intake Officers, the member claimed not to have received any information about the service buyback process or deadline. The Intake Officer referred the file to an Investigator to clarify the situation.
The Investigator contacted the pension authority, the Director Pensions and Social Programs (DPSP), to get a better understanding of the facts. The DPSP confirmed:
- In 2009, the DPSP sent a letter to the member, describing the member’s eligibility to elect prior service.
- The member had another opportunity to elect prior service in 2012. At that time, the DPSP sent an e-mail to the member that provided detailed instructions for election form completion as well as the submission deadline.
- The member wrote back to the DPSP to confirm receipt of the 2012 e-mail; however, the member did not submit the required election forms.
Since the member had two opportunities to elect prior service but did not follow the necessary steps to start the process within the time limit, the Investigator determined the DPSP had treated the member fairly.
A Regular Force member contacted one of our Intake Officers about Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) fee reimbursement.
The CAF made relocation policy changes effective in April 2018, which reinstated member reimbursement for Mortgage Default Insurance and CMHC fees.
During a posting relocation, the member paid out-of-pocket to cover CMHC fees on a May 2018 home purchase. However, the relocation service provider (BGRS) denied the member’s reimbursement request. The member complained to BGRS and their chain of command about this denial, but neither could resolve the issue.
The Intake Officer referred the complaint for investigation to confirm why BGRS denied the request. One of our Investigators contacted the member, and learned that the member had not contacted the base Relocation Coordinator about the posting relocation. Had the member tried this contact, the Relocation Coordinator would have sent the complaint to the relocation authority, the Director Compensation and Benefits Administration (DCBA), for clarification.
The Investigator then contacted the DCBA, who explained that BGRS was updating its relocation system and processes to implement the April 2018 policy changes, and expected to complete these changes by July 2018.
The DCBA explained that once the changes were complete, the member could resubmit a request for the CMHC fee reimbursement. The member could submit an adjudication requestFootnote 1 to DCBA via the base Relocation Coordinator if BGRS denied the resubmission.
Due to our office’s intervention, the member received instructions on how to request reimbursement of their CMHC fees and learned what steps to follow for future relocation concerns.
A Regular Force member contacted our office for help in addressing a scheduling conflict relating to training. The member had just learned that they were being sent on training two days prior to their spouse's scheduled surgery. Since the spouse would have limited mobility after the surgery, the member felt it was important to be available to provide support and care for their spouse and children.
The member discussed the situation with the chain of command, and requested that the training be postponed. However, the processing of the member's request was delayed. Given that Headquarters had scheduled the training, the member was concerned that a decision would not be provided in time.
Since the training start date was fast approaching, our office intervened by helping the member confirm when a decision would be made. One of our Complaint Analysts contacted the headquarters personnel selection officer to ensure delays were addressed and that headquarters was aware of the member's time-sensitive situation.
Within a matter of days, the member received the decision approving their removal from training so they could care for their family.
Primary Reserve Force
A Veteran's advocate contacted our office to raise concerns about a Primary Reserve Force member who was in crisis. The release authority, Director Military Careers Administration (DMCA), was considering a medical release for the member. However, the chain of command notified the member that it had cancelled the medical release, had initiated an administrative review for misconduct, and had recommended the member for a release under item 5(f)Footnote 4 – "Unsuitable for Further Service."
In addition, the member and their spouse claimed to have suffered a great deal of anxiety because they were given a limited amount of time to provide a written representation to contest the recommendation for release under item 5(f). They also feared the possibility of losing the benefits and services associated with a medical release. Because the member was distressed and lacked reliable information about these processes and timelines, our office intervened to ensure the member received clear information about their release proceedings.
One of our Investigators contacted the member to explain the release process. In addition, the Investigator reached out to the member's chain of command and DMCA to obtain timely and accurate details about the member's release.
The Investigator confirmed that DMCA was the release authority for the member's case. DMCA cancelled the member's medical release in January 2018 because of a pending administrative review and recommendation for release under item 5(f).
After weighing all the facts related to the member's file, DMCA completed their review and decided to proceed with the member's medical release.
In July 2016, The Department of National Defence reclassified a civilian employee's position from CR-03 to CR-04. The employee felt the process was taking too long, and was unable to get an update about the status of the reclassification. As a result, the employee asked our office for help.
In order to receive a fair and timely response, one of our Investigators contacted the employee's supervisor, who confirmed that a complete re-organization of the establishment's positions was underway. Furthermore, only a limited number of human resources specialists were completing the reclassification work. Since the reclassification of the employee's position was part of a larger project, the process could not be expedited. However, the Investigator found that the employee should have received regular updates on the status of the reclassification as well as the reason for the delay.
Shortly after the Investigator's intervention, the employee received clarification regarding the reclassification process as well as a letter of offer for the reclassified position.
In October 2016, a civilian employee’s position was reclassified from ST-SCY-03 to AS-01. Given that the reclassification became effective in September 2009, the employee was entitled to retroactive pay.
The civilian employee contacted our office about two issues:
- The federal government’s Phoenix pay system processed the retroactive pay back to February 2016 when the system was launched, rather than back to September 2009. The Pay Centre told the employee a compensation advisor would manually calculate the rest of the salary owed from September 2009 to February 2016. However, there was a delay in processing the manual calculation.
- The Pay Centre calculated the initial retroactive sum at the third pay increment instead of the fourth increment.
The remaining amount owed totaled over $35,000.00.
The employee wanted to resolve the pay issues before they began planning their retirement. Despite contacting the Public Service Pay Centre 20 times from May 2017 to early 2018, the pay problems remained uncorrected.
An Investigator with our office contacted the DND’s National Civilian Compensation Support Unit (NCCSU) to flag the employee’s pay issues. The NCCSU explained that since the employee was receiving bi-weekly pay and was not immediately retiring, the Pay Centre considered the complaint as being a lower priority. The Pay Centre’s focus was on processing the files of civilian employees not receiving their basic pay and benefits, at risk of not being paid, or experiencing significant career changes.
When processing Phoenix-related pay complaints, our office’s mandate is to ensure the fair treatment of DND civilian employees throughout the pay complaint process. This involves ensuring that employees can:
- report their pay issue to the appropriate authority and confirm that all necessary paperwork was received for processing;
- understand the priority of their pay complaint, in order to manage their expectations and help them understand when they can expect a response or resolution of their pay complaint;
- escalate their concerns if compelling circumstances2 exist or if their complaint is not processed according to service standards;
- request an emergency salary advance, priority payment, or claim out-of-pocket expenses where warranted; and
- report any changes to their personal circumstances that could impact the priority of their pay issue.
In this case, the employee knew the status of their file and had no compelling circumstances2 present. Although the employee was waiting on a large sum of retroactive pay, the Investigator concluded that the Pay Centre was treating the employee fairly and processing the file in accordance with the expected service standards. As a result, there was no reason for our office to intervene further.
A few days later, the Pay Centre contacted the employee and confirmed that a compensation advisor was resolving the pay problems.
A Mental Health Manager at a Canadian Forces Health Services Centre contacted our office in February 2018 about staffing delays. Although the necessary approvals were received in June 2017 to fill Health Services vacancies, the staffing process had stalled.
In order to bring attention to the delays and their impacts, one of our Investigators contacted the departmental authority, Director Civilian Classification and Organization (DCCO). The DCCO explained there was a staffing backlog and confirmed that they would attempt to resolve the issue.
As a result of our office's intervention, the staffing process was placed back on track. The following week, the Health Services manager expressed satisfaction with the progress of the staffing process and confirmed the issue was on track towards resolution.
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