Ombudsmen update Ministers on their joint investigation into the transition process for releasing Canadian Armed Forces Members

31 March 2015

The Honourable Jason Kenney, P.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, Ontario K1A 0K2

The Honourable Erin O’Toole, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Veterans Affairs
66 Slater St., 16th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0P4

Ministers Kenney and O’Toole:

Further to our September 11, 2014 update to your predecessors (reference Annex A), the intent of this letter is to provide you with an overview of the ongoing progress made in the joint National Defence and Canadian Forces and Veterans Ombudsmen systemic review on the transition process from military to civilian life for medically releasing Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members.

This project began in early 2014 as a result of the well-documented need to ensure that the transition process be as seamless as possible, including clear and transparent information and communication to members. The goal of the joint effort is to identify and recommend ways to streamline administrative processes and support services to the benefit of transitioning members and their families.

The project includes five areas of study:

  • mapping the transition process for medically releasing members;
  • examining the impact of service attribution on the transition process;
  • examining the role of, and support provided to, families during the transition;
  • reviewing recommendations of Parliamentary Committees and the Auditor General of Canada; and
  • reviewing the role and impact of third party service providers.

Since our update in September, the team has:

  • mapped the transition process for Regular force members;
  • reviewed the recommendations and responses from the relevant House of Commons, Senate and Auditor General reports;
  • reviewed Department of National Defence (DND) and Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC)  policies,
  • regulations, business processes and procedures, and
  • interviewed key DND, CAF and VAC stakeholders.

Based on the examination completed thus far, the team has noted several core issues/ barriers to a seamless transition which are summarized below. A more detailed summary of the preliminary findings is attached at Annex B.


There are multiple players from separate organizations, each with their own accountability frameworks, mandates and processes which results in duplication of effort, gaps, and inconsistencies across groups and geographic regions. Dual case management structures and staffing shortages are also areas of concern.

Program centric service delivery 

The programs and services related to transition focus on processes and departmental responsibilities and outputs, rather than the needs of the member. There are no integrated performance measures for a successful transition.


While there are several transition services and programs available to families, they are not easily accessible or widely communicated. Most of these services are contingent on the member notifying and informing the family of their availability.

Analysis suggests that a successful transition process should:

  • be member centric (i.e. meet the member’s expectations, anticipate their needs and define success through their eyes);
  • include clear authorities and an accountability framework;
  • be adequately resourced to achieve consistent services and standards across the CAF and VAC, regardless of geographic location;
  • have continuous proactive communication with medically releasing members to ensure they are adequately prepared.

In the coming months, the team will continue its research and analysis, publish a series of products including videos and educational pieces outlining the transition process, programs and services and develop reports containing recommendations on how to improve and streamline the transition process. Activities in the next quarter will include:

  • completing the detailed mapping of the transition process for all classes of Reserve Force members;
  • mapping the three separate Vocational Rehabilitation Programs (CAF, Service Income Security Insurance Plan and VAC) to identify gaps, duplication and barriers;
  • examining the role of family members and support provided to families;
  • examining the role of third-party non-government service providers to identify gaps and duplication in benefits and services provided by DND and/or VAC, and
  • conducting a qualitative research study on the determinants of successful transition.  

This is the first instance where both the DND/CF Ombudsman and Veterans Ombudsman work together to address issues impacting their shared constituency and serves as an example of government departments working collaboratively towards positive outcomes. We look forward to providing you additional details, including a formal briefing on this project, at your convenience.


Gary Walbourne
DND / CF Ombudsman   

Guy Parent    
Veterans Ombudsman

Enclosures (2):

1)    Letter to MND – Update on Transition Project, 11 Sept 2014

2)    Summary of Preliminary Findings

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