On the Homefront: Assessing the Well-being of Canada's Military Families in the New Millennium

During the past few years there has been a noteworthy increase in family-related complaints to the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces (DND/CF) Ombudsman.

Report

  • Full report (November 2013) | Recommendations 
    •  18 Recommendations Made
    •  18 Recommendations Accepted
    •  8 Recommendations Implemented
    •  8 Recommendations Partially Implemented
    •  2 Recommendations Not Implemented

Progress report on the status of recommendations:

Recommendation 1

Establish a modern definition of military family.

Recommendation 1 status:  Accepted  Partially implemented

Military Family Services has adopted a definition of military family that reflects modern lifestyles and facilitates family access to services. Our Office will continue to engage with the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces on establishing a single definition of military family that is applied consistently throughout the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces.

Recommendation 2

Maintain current level of support to military families.

Recommendation 2 status:  Accepted  Implemented

Recommendation 3

Fully implement the CF Family Covenant throughout the DND/CF.

Recommendation 3 status:  Accepted  Implemented

Recommendation 4

Communicate more effectively with military families.

Recommendation 4 status:  Accepted  Implemented

Recommendation 5

Modernize the Military Family Services Program.

Recommendation 5 status:  Accepted  Implemented

Military Family Services has taken a multi-pronged approach to reviewing and modernizing the Military Family Services Program. Its guiding documents have been updated to ensure that information on its programs and resources is readily available to military families, service providers, and community partners. Online sources of information and assistance continue to be developed and expanded at both national and local levels to improve service delivery to military families.

Recommendation 6

Reinforce the central frontline role of Military Family Resource Centres.

Recommendation 6 status:  Accepted  Partially implemented

Headway has been made on the Military Family Resource Centers Governance Review, however Chief of the Defence Staff approval is still pending. The target for implementation remains June 2018. The independence of the Military Family Resource Centers and the governance principle For Families by Families were incorporated in the proposed governance models. Follow-up is required to confirm the structure of the approved model.

Recommendation 7

Formalize the approach to provincial and territorial engagement.

Recommendation 7 status:  Accepted  Not implemented

The Comprehensive Military Family Plan conceptual framework aims to formalize the approach to provincial and territorial engagement. As the Comprehensive Military Family Plan is still under development, it is too early to determine the overall impact it will have on provincial and territorial engagement.

Recommendation 8

Continue to exploit partnership opportunities.

Recommendation 8 status:  Accepted  Implemented

Recommendation 9

Institute grandfathering of military family support policy changes.

Recommendation 9 status:  Accepted  Not implemented (no further action)

Military Family Services raised concerns about the feasibility of implementing a blanket grandfathering proviso in policies impacting military families. Military Family Services noted that in the new Defence Policy, the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces committed to ensuring that military families receive the care and support they require. No further action will be taken for this recommendation, however, our Office will monitor future policy changes impacting military families to ensure the well-being of families is prioritized.

Recommendation 10

Modernize recruiting practices vis-à-vis families.

Recommendation 10 status:  Accepted  Implemented

Recommendation 11

Promote more extensive and independent research.

Recommendation 11 status:  Accepted  Implemented

Recommendation 12

Modernize CF relocation policies and procedures.

Recommendation 12 status:  Accepted  Partially implemented

The Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces have taken steps to modernize existing relocation policies and procedures, including the recently-approved revisions to the Canadian Forces Integrated Relocation Policy. In December 2017, the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces implemented a new web-based tool to support their relocation program. Members have raised concerns with the new relocation tool; the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces have since put in place interim measures to address some of these concerns. Our Office has and continues to receive complaints regarding the new relocation tool.

Recommendation 13

Modernize programs and services to reduce the challenges caused by operational deployments.

Recommendation 13 status:  Accepted  Implemented

The Canadian Armed Forces has made progress in modernizing its programs and services with the view of reducing challenges caused by operational deployments. Family-focused programs and services have been instituted, and these resources have been made available online and in-person.

Recommendation 14

Develop a national employment strategy to assist spouses/partners.

Recommendation 14 status:  Accepted  Partially implemented

The Canadian Armed Forces has committed to integrating spousal support in their upcoming Comprehensive Military Family Plan. They also released a two-year Military Family Services Spousal Employment Operating Plan. Our Office will continue to monitor the development of both these initiatives to ensure they fully support military spouses in achieving fulfilling and continuous employment.

Recommendation 15

Assist military families to obtain better access to healthcare.

Recommendation 15 status:  Accepted  Partially implemented

The Canadian Armed Forces have made noteworthy progress in assisting families in obtaining better access to health care through a number of new and ongoing health-related initiatives including a family-focused medical referral service and the recent launch of a new telemedicine pilot. The Canadian Armed Forces recently announced the new Seamless Canada Initiative which will, in part, explore ways of improving military family access to health services.

Recommendation 16

Provide suitable, accessible and affordable military housing, and facilitate home ownership.

Recommendation 16 status:  Accepted  Partially implemented

The Canadian Armed Forces housing and Integrated Relocation policies are currently undergoing review. In addition, discussions on the Post Living Differential allowance between the Canadian Armed Forces and the Treasury Board Secretariat are still ongoing. Once these reviews are completed, our Office will assess their overall impact on accessibility and affordability of housing for military families.

Recommendation 17

Further support families in providing a healthy environment in which to raise their children.

Recommendation 17 status:  Accepted  Partially implemented

Through the release of educational tools and products, the Canadian Armed Forces have taken tangible steps towards providing healthy environments in which military families can raise their children. The Canadian Armed Forces are currently examining policies and initiatives in several areas related to military families, which we will assess accordingly.

Recommendation 18

Empower military families in achieving short- and long-term financial well-being.

Recommendation 18 status:  Accepted  Partially implemented

The Canadian Armed Forces have made positive strides in the area of educational support to members and their families. In terms of financial compensation, the Canadian Armed Forces are currently in discussion with the Treasury Board Secretariat on the Post Living Differential allowance. Once discussions with the Treasury Board Secretariat have concluded, our Office will assess the overall impact on the short and long-term financial wellbeing of military families.

Next Steps

The Office will follow up on the outstanding recommendations and provide an update.

Definitions

Accepted

DND/CAF have indicated that they accept the recommendations.

Not Accepted

DND/CAF have not indicated that they accept the recommendations, or have indicated that they do not accept the recommendations.

Met / Implemented

Work completed to date fully or largely meets the intent of the recommendation, including circumstances where the recommendation has been implemented to the extent demonstrably possible within existing DND/CAF authorities.

Partially Implemented

Work is underway to address the substance of the recommendation, and it is reasonably probable that additional progress will be made;

Work began to address the substance of the recommendation, but one or more aspects of the recommendation have since become objectively un-implementable or overtaken by events.

Not Met / Not Implemented

Work to address the substance of the recommendation has not begun;

Work completed to date does not largely meet the intent of the recommendation, work started on implementation of the recommendation.

Unable to Assess

Insufficient information is available to make an assessment, including in circumstances where DND/CAF has not yet provided adequate responses.


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