Letter to Commander of NCJCRSG: outreach to Cadets Camps

31 October 2017

Brigadier-General Kelly Woiden
National Cadet and Junior Canadian Rangers Support Group
Department of National Defence
101 Colonel by Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K2


Dear Brigadier-General Woiden,

I am writing to follow up on our visits to the numerous cadet camps and facilities where we met with several hundred people this past summer. We visited British Columbia, Québec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Whitehorse, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario in order to increase awareness our office and the services we provide to our constituents and to learn more about the Cadet Organization. During these visits, we were pleased to meet with personnel, including the Cadet Instructor Cadre (CIC) and Cadet Organization Administration and Training Service (COATS). We listened to concerns and positive feedback, and left with valuable insight into what it takes to work with youth and the specific challenges that work brings.

I would like to personally thank you, as well your team, who made a total of 20 visits from coast to coast possible. I would like to also recognize Major Simon Caron, Lieutenant-Colonel Bruno De Ciccio, Major Bob Eagle, Major Edison Mclean and Captain Jason Burgoin who helped coordinate town halls with the CIC and the COATS, and who offered us great hospitality, openness and access during our visit.

In speaking with members from across the country it was evident our CICs and COATS are proud members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), eager to share their knowledge and challenges, and to assist in any way they can. We were very impressed by the quality and dedication of the leaders we met with. 

I would like to highlight some of the comments we received during our visits, and to offer you our assistance should you wish to follow up on any of these matters. Our organization firmly believes that collaboration and sharing of best practices can lead to long-lasting positive changes.

Supplementary Insurance and serious injuries

It is our understanding that supplementary insurance is offered to parents by the different cadet leagues prior to cadets participating in activities. However, it was noted by staff across the country that there is no information disseminated about this topic, and that there is a need for more information for staff as well as for parents.

We were also told that in cases where serious injuries occur it is difficult to provide support to families as there is no mechanism or policy in place giving clear direction to unit commanders to address these types of situations. At the time of our visit for the chain of command was unable to obtain details about the benefits, services and insurance coverage offered to cadets by the cadet leagues.

As you may be aware, in November 2016, my office published a report titled “Cadets: An Investigation of the Support Provided to Cadets Who Suffer an Illness or Injury as a Result of Cadet Activity”. The investigation focused on identifying problems of unfairness, determining the rights in relation to benefits, and the process in place to access these benefits should a cadet be seriously injured or killed while on approved cadet activity.

As our investigation revealed, there are multiple benefits and services available to ill or injured cadets and their families such as, medical care offered by the CAF as well as supplemental accident insurance offered by the cadet leagues. A brief summary of these findings can be found on our website and could easily be shared and communicated to cadets and their parents.

Across the country and during our town halls, it was evident that members did not know about the benefits and services to which they have access. Work still remains to be done to ensure that cadets and their families are made aware of their entitlements and the process being put in place to access these. My office will be conducting a follow-up on the recommendations made in this report.

Distributing medication

A concern was raised related to the lack of training regarding the distribution of medication to cadets and the liability should an error occur. Staff reported not knowing which medication is needed to treat a given medical condition. They explained that the lack of information made it difficult to ensure cadets received proper care. We are aware of a policy created in June 2016 regarding epi-pens but we were told it has yet to be fully implemented; because of this some sites have adopted their own measures to help deal with the medical issues of cadets such as taking photos of cadets who have allergies and life-threatening conditions. Some camps reported that there can be up to 87% of attending cadets that are medicated in some way - this was of concern to staff.

Insufficient medical information about cadets

Staff expressed concern about dealing with cadets who have mental health issues or other behavioral issues. As they do not receive detailed medical information about cadets. We were informed that a questionnaire is completed by parents as part of the application process and sent to the Medical Officer who then prepares a medical chit and sends it to the unit. However, the information provided on this chit mainly addresses allergies and medications but does not outline behavioral or mental health issues.

Recruiting Delays

Personnel across the country reported being exhausted by the complexity of the hiring process. More specifically the transfer from the regular force or the reserve force to COATS. The chain of command informed us this was due to a lack of administrative personnel as well as a lengthy process of conducting security and background checks. The lengthy hiring process results in the loss of excellent candidates with the right skills and qualifications.

In closing, I would like to commend you and your senior leadership team for your deep commitment to the men and women who serve under your command. I recognize that the issues and challenges you are confronting are, to some extent, beyond your control; we remain to assist as you navigate these challenges.

I would again like to thank you and your staff for your help in the organization and execution of a very successful series of constituent engagement visits.



Gary Walbourne

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