ARCHIVED - Ombudsman Advises the Minister of National Defence of Progress at St-Jean

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September 5, 2008

The Honourable Peter MacKay, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of National Defence
National Defence Headquarters
Major General George R. Pearkes Building
13th Floor, North Tower
101 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0K2

Dear Minister MacKay:

Re: Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School – Unfairness Related to the Released of Injured Recruits.

In May 2007, the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School introduced new release criteria for recruits and Officer Cadets. As a result of this policy, any recruit or Officer Cadet who became unfit to participate in their basic training course for more than 30 cumulative days could be recommended for release from the Canadian Forces, without the usual administrative protections provided to Canadian Forces members to ensure they are treated fairly and equitably when they are facing the possibility of being released from the Canadian Forces.

After the introduction of these new criteria, the Ombudsman’s Office received over 20 complaints from recruits and Officer Cadets who had been released or who were about to be released, alleging that they were being treated unfairly. The Ombudsman’s Office investigated and concluded that the criteria were in fact unfair to those recruits and Officer Cadets who had been released under the criteria. Our findings and recommendations were provided to the Chief of the Defence Staff in a letter dated June 25, 2008.

As noted in our findings, these criteria did not allow for the proper assessment of injuries nor did they provide the procedural protections available to other Canadian Forces members. We recommended that any new release criteria ensure that recruits and Officer Cadets are: treated fairly with regard to the assessment of injuries; provided with procedural protection; and if released, it is under the appropriate release item. We also recommended that by October 31, 2008, the Canadian Forces review all administrative releases from the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School which were the result of the application of the May 2007 release criteria.

We are very pleased to inform you that on September 3, 2008, the Chief of the Defence Staff advised us that the Canadian Forces has accepted our recommendations, and that a new policy will be developed, taking into account the issues raised by the Ombudsman’s Office, and that a review of all individuals affected by the old release criteria will be undertaken.

Given the number of complaints we received, and the fact that we have received numerous public inquiries concerning this matter, I have come to the conclusion that it would be in the public interest to have our findings and recommendations, as well as the response of the Canadian Forces, made public. Therefore, please be advised that we intend to publish our June 25, 2008 letter and the September 3, 2008 response of the Chief of the Defence Staff, pursuant to paragraph 38(2)(b) of the Ministerial Directives on the expiration of 28 days from this date.

I thank you for your continued support of this office.

Yours truly,

Mary McFadyen, Interim Ombudsman

Enclosures (2)

1. Ombudsman Raises Concerns Regarding the Treatment of Injured Recruits at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in St-Jean

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