Minister of National Defence Responds to Ombudsman’s Update on St-Jean Issue

March 31, 2009

Mr. Pierre Daigle
Office of the National Defence and
Canadian Forces Ombudsman
100 Metcalfe Street, 12th Floor
Ottawa ON K1P 5M1

Dear Mr. Daigle:

I am writing to respond to your predecessor’s letter of December 23, 2008, and the enclosed report entitled Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School – Unfairness Related to the Released Injured Recruits.

In addition to improvements made to the release policy and procedures, in September 2008, the Chief of the Defence Staff directed a review of the files of all recruits released for medical reasons during the period in question. The review determined that none of the recruits’ release items needed to be changed. Of the 94 files reviewed, one case is still under review; one is being addressed separately through the grievance process; two are ineligible to re-enrol for medical or irregular enrolment reasons, and eight have already re-enrolled. The Canadian Forces Recruitment Group will be contacting the remaining 82 and inviting them to re-apply.

I note that the primary issue with the releases identified by your investigators was therefore not adherence to release procedures but rather the procedures and tools, such as Progress Review Boards (PRBs), used to justify the release item. Consequently, the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruitment School (CFLRS) PRB procedures have been reviewed and modified, and continue to undergo close observation and evolution. CFLRS Standards personnel monitor PRBs closely to ensure procedural fairness and completeness. Such oversight has confirmed that members now being released at CFLRS are granted the release benefits to which they are entitled and that their releases are treated the same as for any serving Canadian Forces member undergoing release.

Furthermore, injured personnel with long expected healing time are dealt with on a case-by-case basis to ensure fairness and effectiveness. Generally they are either treated at Saint-Jean Garrison or attach posted to a base close to their families. In certain cases, they may also be posted to the Basic Training List of the Canadian Forces facility nearest their home. These cases are administered by the Canadian Defence Academy Basic Training Management cell. In an effort to ensure the highest standard of care possible, CFLRS has also engaged the Canadian Forces medical system case managers network to find good environments and gainful employment for injured members awaiting disposition for medical reasons.

Please be assured that the CFLRS handles releases equitably within Canadian Forces policy and procedures, the PRB process continues to improve, and injured persons are dealt with carefully and individually.

I appreciate receiving this report.


Peter G. MacKay

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