Letter to the MND: Integrated Complaint/Conflict Management (IC2M) program

9 October 2018

 

The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, PC, OMM, MSM, CD, MP
Minister of National Defence
National Defence Headquarters
Major-General Pearkes Building
13th Floor, North Tower
101 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K2

 

Dear Minister Sajjan,

My letter dated 22 April 2016 regarding the Integrated Complaint/Conflict Management (IC2M) program, and your reply dated 11 January, 2017 refer. Thank you for your response.

In my letter, I outlined a number of important issues relating to the IC2M program, including the independence of interventions and investigations, key considerations relating to the confidentiality of Canadian Armed Forces members seeking assistance, matters of transparency, protection from reprisal for those who reach out, as well as implications on the daily business of my Office.    

On 20 July 2018 the IC2M program reached full operational capability with the opening of the 16th Conflict and Complaint Management Services (CCMS) centre at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton.

Over the past year-and-a-half, some of my key staff have attended briefings delivered by - and delivered briefings to - IC2M staff and leadership, in order to better understand the services provided and the environment within which our two organizations operate. My Office has also investigated concerns raised about the manner in which the IC2M system handles information on behalf of their clients.

I am pleased to report that, as a result of recommendations issued by this Office, a more comprehensive consent/confidentiality construct has been implemented at the front lines of CCMS centres, and that more robust training is being given to CCMS centre agents, relating to privacy and confidentiality.

Notwithstanding, my Office still has concerns about the objectivity of information provided by CCMS staff, as well as the neutrality of their dual role as advisors to members seeking assistance as well as the chain of command. As I am sure you will understand, impartiality is critical when working to resolve complaints; a real or perceived lack of it can erode trust for all parties involved and can lead to unfairness. Consequently, my Office will continue to follow-up on areas of concern and will communicate our findings as appropriate.

Lastly, I must use this opportunity to highlight that, in addition to conducting investigations, my Office is mandated to act as a direct source of information, referral, and education for the men and women of the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces. We take this role seriously. As the IC2M program encompasses but does not constitute an existing mechanism, my office will not be referring constituents to that entity. Rather, we will continue to position ourselves not only as an office of last resort, which you reinforced in your letter, but also as an office of first contact, by helping our constituents to access a wide range of channels of assistance and redress when they have a complaint or concern.

We will continue to objectively and equitably execute these roles in our pursuit of substantial and long-lasting improvements to the Defence community.

Sincerely,

 

Gary Walbourne
Ombudsman

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