Backgrounder: Well-Supported, Diverse, Resilient People and Families
The success of Canada’s defence depends on our people. Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members are devoted to serving their country, and we are equally committed to our duty to improve the assistance, services, and care we provide them and their families. Not only is it important to build a strong and agile defence organization, but the Government has an obligation to care for those who have accepted service of their country before self.
Our military and civilian workforce will benefit from an inclusive, positive, fair, and supportive workplace. We will also resource the CAF sufficiently, with the right number of personnel possessing the right skills to get the job done. This means we need to rethink ‘how’ we recruit, as well as increase the volume, skill sets, and diversity of ‘who’ we recruit. Diversity is the strength of Canada’s population and is essential to our military’s operational effectiveness and long-term success.
To deliver on the goals set out in Strong, Secure, Engaged, we will grow the size of the Regular Force by 3,500 (to 71,500) and the Reserve Force by 1,500 (to 30,000) members.
The Department of National Defence (DND) will also hire an additional 1,150 civilian employees to enable and support military operations in fields such as intelligence, logistics, procurement, and maintenance to name a few.
From the moment military members join, throughout their careers, and extending to the crucial time of transition when members retire and/or require assistance as veterans, we will focus on:
- Recruiting, training, and retention of personnel;
- Reflecting Canadian ideals of diversity, respect, and inclusion;
- Ensuring military members and their families have the care and support they need;
- Improving our support services for ill and injured members; and
- Helping our members transition seamlessly to post-military life when the time comes.
Total Health and Wellness
There is an obvious link between the overall health and wellness of a military and its operational effectiveness. To effectively deliver on the defence mandate, Defence will ensure the needs of our military members, their families, and defence civilians are met.
For members of the CAF, this means being well supported from the moment they join, throughout their career, and finally as they transition out of the military. This also includes keeping the door open to Veterans wishing to return to service, or who later need assistance and support.
This continual support plays a large role in the recruitment and retention of our members and consequently, in increasing the size of the CAF. More importantly, we have a fundamental moral obligation to care for those who have accepted unlimited liability in the service of their country.
While there are many excellent existing DND/CAF health and wellness programs and services available, the field of ‘total health care’ has greatly evolved and we will evolve with it.
- Invest $198.2 million over the course of the policy to implement a new approach to care. Known as the Total Health and Wellness Strategy, this approach will expand wellness beyond the traditional healthcare model to include promotion, prevention, treatment, and support, and provide a greater range of health and wellness services and programs; and
- Shed one-size fits all solutions in favour of more people-centred, compassionate, dependable, and comprehensive services.
Supporting Health and Resilience
Military service is challenging and rewarding, but it also places unique demands and stresses on CAF personnel that can have a profound impact on all aspects of health. This includes everything from the potential physical and mental injuries that can be experienced on operations to the strain that prolonged absence from loved ones can have on families and relationships.
Despite the CAF having an extensive and robust mental health program, we need to do more.
Even one suicide, or one more member suffering in silence, is too many. We will ensure our members feel comfortable seeking help, and receive the help they need as soon as it is requested.
- Augment the CAF Health System to ensure it meets the unique needs of our personnel with effective and efficient care, anywhere they serve in Canada or abroad. This includes growing the Medical Services Branch by 200 personnel;
- Implement a joint DND and Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) Suicide Prevention Strategy that hires additional mental health professionals and implements a joint framework focused on preventing suicide across the entire military and Veteran community. It will encompass and build on what is already being done to prevent suicide and will address gaps that may be identified; and
- Remove barriers to care, including creating an environment free from stigma where military members are encouraged to raise health concerns of any nature and seek appropriate help when they need it.
Promoting a Culture of Leadership, Respect, and Honour
Everyone has the right to a workplace free from harassment and discrimination. It is vital that all Defence members feel safe at work, and that every individual is treated fairly and respectfully. Positive culture change requires a commitment to promote the respect of all members as equal contributors to the community – this is a no fail mission.
Significant progress has been made with Operation HONOUR in addressing inappropriate sexual behaviour in the workplace.
Under Canada’s defence policy, we will:
- Complete the full implementation of the 10 recommendations of the Deschamps Report through Operation HONOUR;
- Provide a full range of victim and survivor support services to CAF members;
- Deal with harassment complaints in a clear and timely way by simplifying formal harassment complaint procedures; and
- Be open and transparent with Canadians and members of the CAF in communicating progress on this important issue.
Supporting Military Families
Families are a major source of support to CAF members and integral to the success of the military – they are the strength behind the uniform. Family members also make important sacrifices, whether it be through the challenges associated with relocation or the prolonged absence of a loved one. They will have access to the support and services they deserve, to cope with the unique challenges and stresses of military life.
- Implement teams at Wings and Bases across Canada, in partnership with Military Family Resource Centres, to prevent and respond to gender-based violence;
- Improve access to psychological services through social workers and referrals to community programs and services;
- Develop a Comprehensive Military Family Plan to help stabilize family life for CAF members and their families who frequently have to relocate. This includes:
- Providing an additional $6 million per year to modernize military family support programs, such as Military Family Resource Centres, to provide better support to families when members are deploying or during periods of absence;
- Establishing relocation expertise to help military families find and access the services they need in a new community; and
- Working with federal, provincial and private sector partners to improve the coordination of services across provinces to ease the burden of moving.
Canadians know that when our women and men in uniform deploy, they and their families make great sacrifices on our behalf. With this in mind, all CAF members deployed on all international operations designated as such by the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) will no longer pay federal income tax on their CAF salary up to the level of Lieutenant-Colonel. This will not affect the assessment and awarding of existing hardship and risk allowances earned by CAF personnel deployed abroad.
This initiative is retroactive to January 2017.
The life of a CAF member is one of continual transition: from the first moments at the recruiting centre to the last day in uniform, and beyond. All members will benefit from a system which enables a smooth and successful transition to post-military life. Strong, Secure, Engaged reinvents the way we approach transition. It ensures that members receive the professional, customized, and personalized support they need as they transition to post-military life. This will ease their adjustment, and help them continue to live productive, meaningful lives. This is especially critical when CAF members are ill or injured. They require personalised support, in coordination with VAC and other partners, to get back to active service, or transition to post-military life. Ensuring a smooth and effective transition is critical to the well-being of our personnel and the effectiveness of the operational force.
- Create a new CAF Transition Group that will support all members to seamlessly transition to post-military life. This Group will:
- Be fully integrated with VAC, and will enhance the support for our ill and injured to get them back to active duty as much as possible, or transition to post-military life;
- Be commanded by a General Officer and staffed by experts in human resources and personnel administration;
- Comprise a strength of approximately 1,200 members, including specialized staff and holding positions for ill and injured members preparing to return to duty or transition out of the CAF; and
- Provide fully engaged, personalized, and guided support to transition all CAF members, with special care and attention being provided to those who are ill and injured.
- Ensure that all benefits are in place before a member transitions to post-military life;
- Increase the Medical Services Branch capacity to support transition care; and
- Establish a Personnel Administration Branch of experts in military human resources.
To attract high-calibre recruits into the military, the CAF requires a robust and engaging recruiting system – one that will allow the high volume of applications received each year to be efficiently processed. The current system is too slow to compete in Canada’s highly competitive labour market and does not effectively communicate the exciting and fulfilling employment opportunities offered by military service.
- Significantly reduce the time the CAF recruiting process takes – from enrolment to basic recruit training – by reforming all aspects of military recruiting;
- Implement a recruitment campaign to:
- Promote the complete range of more than 100 unique full- and part-time career opportunities, as well as the professional and personal development opportunities, offered by the CAF; and
- Support key recruitment priorities, including hiring more women, increasing diversity, meeting Reserve Force requirements, and promoting priority occupations, and the needs of the Reserve Force.
Training and Retention
Once recruited, members need modern, high quality training that puts them on a solid foundation to succeed. We will adapt training to meet the highly technical requirements of modern militaries, as well as demonstrate that the military offers competitive training and technical certification on par with, or exceeding, the standards of industry and the private sector.
- Restore the Collège Militaire Royal in St-Jean as a full degree-granting institution to help prepare the next generation of CAF leaders for success;
- Increase the capacity of the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School to accommodate growing the Forces and the influx of recruits;
- Evolve the quality of all training and education to meet or exceed the highest industry standards and receive full trade standards accreditation across Canada; and
- In a highly competitive labour market, DND/CAF will modernize and tailor our approaches to attract and retain the best and brightest Canadians. We have to meet the CAF’s future needs by inviting Canadians with the aptitudes and skill-sets required in a variety of highly technical domains to join and stay with us.
- Develop and implement a comprehensive CAF Retention Strategy to keep our talented people in uniform, ensuring they remain satisfied and motivated;
- Undertake a detailed review of conditions of service and career paths to allow members much more personalized career choices and flexibility;
- Recognize uniformed members in a timely, respectful, and meaningful way by modernizing the CAF Honours and Awards system; and
- Implement an integrated DND/CAF strategy for human resources to balance the optimal assignment of tasks between the military, defence civilians, and the private sector.
Building on Canada’s Diversity
Defence needs to reflect Canadian ideals of diversity, respect, and inclusion. This means building a workforce that leverages the diversity and multicultural fabric of Canadian society. As a result, we will better understand the world we live in and be able to respond more effectively to the challenges it presents. Diversity is also a pivotal factor in making our military more operationally effective.
- Promote diversity as a core institutional value across Defence;
- Appoint a Diversity Champion who will oversee the implementation of all aspects of the Diversity Strategy and Action Plan, including instituting mandatory diversity training across all phases of professional development;
- Integrate Gender Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) in all defence activities, across the CAF and DND, from the design and implementation of programs and services that support our personnel, to equipment procurement, and operational planning;
- Focus on recruiting and retaining under-represented populations within the CAF, including, but not limited to, women, Indigenous Peoples, and members of visible minorities; and
- Be a leader in gender balance in the military by increasing the representation of women by one percentage point annually over the next 10 years to reach an overall representation of 25 percent women in the military.
A New Vision for the Reserve Force
The Reserve Force is an integral component of the CAF, and Reservists are vital links to hundreds of communities across Canada. They come from all walks of life, including civil servants, labourers, business people, academics, and former Regular Force members.
Their varied skills and backgrounds enrich and strengthen the CAF.
Under Strong, Secure, Engaged, Reservists will be well integrated into the total force, with sufficient numbers trained, prepared, and equipped to be ready to contribute to operations at home and abroad.
Recruitment procedures will be dramatically improved; and remuneration and benefits will be better aligned with those of the Regular Force, where the demands and service are similar.
- Increase the size of the Reserve Force to 30,000 (an increase of 1,500); and reduce the initial recruitment process from a number of months to a matter of weeks;
- Assign Reserve Force units and formations additional roles that provide full-time capability to the CAF through part-time service, including:
- Light Urban Search and Rescue;
- Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defence;
- Combat capabilities such as direct fire, mortar, and pioneer platoons;
- Cyber operators and intelligence operators;
- Naval Security Teams; and
- Enhance existing roles assigned to the Reserve Force including:
- Information Operations including Influence Activities;
- Combat Support and Combat Service Support; and
- Air Operations Support Technicians.
- Employ the Reserve Force to deliver select deployed missions in a primary role such as CAF capacity building;
- Create an agile service model that supports the transition between full and part-time service and provides the flexibility to cater to different Reserve Force career paths;
- Align Primary Reserve Force remuneration and benefits with those of the Regular Force where the demands of service are similar;
- Revise annuitant employment regulations to attract and retain more former Regular Force personnel to the Reserves. This will help encourage people who are departing the Regular Force to join the Reserves rather than leave the Forces altogether;
- Offer full-time summer employment to Reservists in their first four years with the Reserves commencing in 2018; and
- Work with partners in the Federal Government to align Federal Acts governing job protection legislation. Subsequently, we will work with provinces and territories to harmonize job protection for Reserves at that level.