Response From CFHA CEO On Ombudsman’s Visit To Yellowknife

17 October 2016

Mr. Gary Walbourne
National Defence and Canadian Forces
100 Metcalfe Street, 12th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1P 5M1


Dear Mr. Walbourne:


I am writing to you to provide an update on some of the issues that you had identified from your town halls in Yellowknife.

First of all, I would like to thank you for your kind words and acknowledgement of Evelyn Keeping’s positive impact on customer service for CAF occupants in Yellowknife.  In the short period in which Evelyn has worked for CFHA she has truly had a significant improvement on the Agency’s operations in Yellowknife. In fact, based on your letter as well as other positive feedback from the Base and our staff, Evelyn has been awarded the CFHA Customer Service Award for her commitment to supporting CAF families.  I am confident that Evelyn will continue to improve the Agency’s overall support to our CAF families posted to Yellowknife.

I am sure that you can appreciate the fact that trying to effect change regarding housing for CAF members in Yellowknife is much more challenging due to the fact that Public Service and Procurement Canada (PSPC) owns and manages all of the Government housing in the north. This creates challenges as their operational policies and procedures are quite different than that of DND’s and not occupant focused.  My staff in Edmonton, Yellowknife and in head office is currently working with PSPC staff to address some of the issues that you raised.  Specifically, CFHA has requested that PSPC re-examines their practice of conducting repair work with little or no advance notification to occupants, as well we are asking that they discontinue providing the housing unit keys to contractors as this clearly infringes upon CAF family’s privacy and security.  We are hopeful that a minimum CAF occupants will be provided at least a 24 hr notification as per DND policy.

CFHA has already negotiated with PSPC to change the time for selecting a housing unit from 30 days to 45 days.  As you noted in your letter, the 45 days does not comply with DND’s standard 60 days.  In order to address this, we are working with the career management group and Brookfield to ensure that they inform members that are being posted to Yellowknife to schedule their housing hunting trip only 45 days advance in order to ensure that the house that they visit and select is the one that is offered.

I would like to take this opportunity to provide updates on other topics. As I had previously briefed you, as part of Budget 2015, the Department was allocated $452M for 2015/16 and 2016/17, to improve the condition of its infrastructure; CFHA was allocated $102.75M of this funding, to be spent among 10 of its sites; specifically Bagotville, Borden, Cold Lake, Comox, Esquimalt, Gagetown, Greenwood, Moose Jaw, Petawawa and Shilo.  The funding has been targeted for new and replacement construction, whole house renovations and betterment initiatives, with the goal of achieving an overall improvement in the condition of the housing portfolio.  Upon conclusion of this 2 year program, CFHA will have impacted roughly 10% of its housing portfolio (375 whole house renovations, 833 units receiving betterment projects and 114 units new/replacement RHUs at six sites). Budge 16 included an additional $50M allocation for improvements in Military Housing for FY17/18.  DND has embedded a degree of flexibility in the INFRA 2016 submission by proposing a Provincial allocation structure for the program funding.

I would also like to provide you with a quick update on the results of the OAG audit of CAF housing, DND appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts regarding the departmental response to the OAG report on CAF Housing on 22 March 16 and presented its official response to the Standing Committee where it committed to present its new operational requirements for military housing by 30 June 2017.  DND will provide the committee with a long-term accommodation plan by 31 December 2019.  CMP is currently leading the exercise to define an operational requirement for housing with representatives from the Environmental Commands.  Once the operational requirements have been defined and the accommodation policy has been revised, CFHA and ADM(IE) will put in place a long-term plan that reflects the work needed on the portfolio to meet the housing requirements including priorities, timeframes and resources required.  It will be a number of years before we may see any decisions related to the Housing Program.  In the meantime, CFHA will continue to invest in the housing portfolio and improve its services and support to CAF occupants and their families.

Finally, I would like to let you know that I am retiring from the Public Service after 35 years of service effective 15 December although; my last day in the office will be 18 November.  Throughout my career, I have worked at different departments and occupied numerous positions and I have to say that my time with CFHA serving CFA families have been the best six years of my career.  I am extremely proud of the work that CFHA has done and continues to support CAF occupants, the CAF and the Department.   Over the last three years, I have sincerely appreciated your support and approach to working on behalf of CAF families; your insight and feedback have helped shape and improve the Agency’s operations.  No doubt the new CEO will wish to meet with you and I am sure that whoever it may be that he or she will benefit from your guidance.

My team looks forward to continuing our positive working relationship with your office.


Dominique Francoeur
Chief Executive Officer

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