Letter to Base Commander: accessibility of mental health services at CFB Shilo

5 Jan 2015


Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen Joudrey
Base Commander
Canadian Forces Base Shilo
102 Gunner Rd, Bldg L102
Shilo, Manitoba R0K 2A0

Dear LCol Joudrey:

I am writing following our preliminary assessment of concerns about the accessibility of mental health services for Canadian Armed Forces members at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Shilo.

As you are aware, Mr. H, Senior Investigator, visited CFB Shilo from October 27 to 30, 2014 following media reports that the contract of the sole psychiatrist at 11 Canadian Forces Health Services (11 Health Services) was abruptly terminated. The report alleged that, as a consequence, therapeutic care for members located at Shilo was interrupted for up to two months until care could resume with mental health services in Winnipeg. As accessibility of mental health services has been a significant focus for this Office, it was important to me that we gain a thorough understanding from the CFB Shilo community.

Mr. H met with serving members, spouses, unit and base leadership, and Health Services personnel and has reported to me on this matter. It appears that 11 Health Services acted swiftly and responsibly under the circumstances and in the interest of member care. Also, 11 Health Services informed those members directly impacted.

While the dedication of Health Services at CFB Shilo was evident, it was strongly conveyed that the need for accessible, quality mental health services challenges the capacity of a small clinic located far from an urban center. At the time of Mr. H’s visit, 38 members at CFB Shilo had been referred to the Deer Lodge Operational Stress Injury Clinic in Winnipeg for treatment. Mental health services at Deer Lodge are highly regarded, but the five hour round-trip from CFB Shilo is viewed as a significant treatment barrier.

CFB Shilo members have contributed to extended operations in Afghanistan and the need for mental health services is significant. The growing requirement for mental health services coupled with the acknowledged challenges of attracting and retaining mental health services at CFB Shilo, supports the need for more robust service delivery to be established in the area. Some of those interviewed by Mr. H suggested that the establishment of a satellite OSI Clinic in nearby Brandon would be a more attractive model for qualified clinicians and would better serve the needs of CFB Shilo’s members.

I am committed to tracking concerns stemming from CFB Shilo and my Office will continue to liaise with members as well as unit, base, and Health Services leadership in support of ongoing efforts to improve and sustain the welfare of the men and women stationed there.

Thank you for the cooperation Mr. H was afforded during his visit.


Gary Walbourne

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