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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:

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.

We will:

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.

We will:

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.

Operation HONOUR

Significant progress has been made with Operation HONOUR in addressing inappropriate sexual behaviour in the workplace.
Under Canada’s defence policy, we will:

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.
We will:

Tax Relief

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.

Reinventing Transition

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.

We will:


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.

We will:

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.
We will:

We will:

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.

We will:

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.

We will:

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