Category: Private Married Quarters
Lifted Up Where He Belongs
Being posted to a new location in the Canadian Forces often presents unique challenges. One such challenge came to light in June 2001 when a sergeant in the CF contacted the Office of the Ombudsman.
The CF member, who was posted to a new base, was concerned that his 17-year-old son, who suffers from spina bifida and requires special care, would not be able to function in the new home unless the house was equipped with a lift. Without a lift, the young man would have to crawl up the stairs to his second floor bedroom. Aside from the hardship this would entail, an obvious fire hazard existed because he would be unable to escape quickly and safely if the house caught fire.
The complainant contacted the base social worker and the Canadian Forces Personnel Assistance Fund. He was told that certain changes would be made to the house, such as installing a ramp, but there was little hope a lift would be installed. The costs were considered prohibitive.
This Office contacted the base social worker, as well as members of the Canadian Forces Housing Association (CFHA), to determine how the situation could be managed in a humanitarian way. Many additional calls to the DND liaison officer and CFHA later, a solution was found.
The liaison officer approached the wing commander. He agreed that the base should fund the purchase and installation of a lift. As a result, incalculable suffering for the young man and his family has been averted and the challenge has been met.
This case highlights the difficulties that some families experience in finding suitable accommodation when posted to a new location. As a consequence of this case, DND undertook to make efforts to foresee exceptional circumstances and address them before they become problems.
The case is another example where a solution to an individual problem has prompted a system-wide response to solve similar problems before they occur.