Response from the MND Re: Submission of “A Path Forward” Report

Nov 16 2017

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


Dear Mr. Walbourne:

Thank you for your letter of October 20, 2017, and the accompanying report, A Path Forward: An Action Plan for the Office of the Ombudsman.

As I stated in my letter of March 28th, 2017, 2017, the independent mandate of your Office, in service to members and employees of the Defence Community, is important to me. It ensures that the advice you provide, including the findings and recommendations which flow from your reports, is done freely and outside military and civilian chains of command. Your work this past year on the Canadian Rangers organization as well as your contribution to the “seamless transition” initiative for Canadian Armed Forces members under Strong, Secure, Engaged, our new defence policy, are notable examples of the quality advice we have seen from your Office.

As I read your report, I was reminded of the Auditor General’s Spring 2015 report that called upon both your Office and the Department to ensure improvements to administrative services remained a focus. I know that over the course of this past year, you and the Deputy Minister have worked together to advance this goal.

It pleases me to hear that a more client-centred service approach has been implemented to respond to your Office’s human resource (HR) and financial needs. I understand that in the area of finance, improvements to thresholds for event expenditures, increases in sub-delegations for certain types of travel and hospitality, as well as the introduction of blanket travel and hospitality authorities, to cite but a few examples, have been made.

I have been informed that the 2016 changes to the delegation instrument have given you some of the additional authorities that you were seeking, including reinstatement as the delegated officer to respond to final level grievances, and allowing your General Counsel to respond to Canadian Human Rights Commission complaints, negotiate settlements, and represent the Office of the Ombudsman before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal as per past practice.

In addition, I note that you continue to receive HR strategic and operational advice and guidance on all staffing and classification actions from a team of dedicated HR professionals. More specifically, this HR team focusses on both your staffing and classification priorities as well as, your day to day operational needs.

In the interest of ensuring that the Auditor General’s report remains a priority focus, I encourage both you and the Deputy Minister to continue the good work you have started. Your new report provides the basis of continued collaboration and opportunity for further enhancements to administrative procedures and processes. I commend your recommendation to establish an agreement that would see further periodic audits of financial and human resource delegations to enhance our management of them. In the context of the Deputy Minister’s institutional responsibilities under the Financial Administration Act, we must ensure that our collective efforts support her in the discharge of this role.

Finally, I would like to note that the relationship between our respective offices has never been better. I believe that the level of access and exchanges, to this point in our respective tenures, has been meaningful and productive.

In closing, I thank you again for your report and for your continuing commitment to the members and employees of the Defence Community.

Yours sincerely,

The Hon. Harjit S. Sajjan, PC, OMM, MSM, CD, MP

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