ARCHIVED - Ombudsman Responds to Minister's Letter Regarding Unfairness in Redress of Grievance Process

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May 28, 2010

The Honourable Peter MacKay, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of National Defence
Major-General George R. Pearkes Building
13th Floor, North Tower
101 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0K2

Dear Minister MacKay:

Thank you for your letter dated April 15, 2010, acknowledging receipt of our special report, The Canadian Forces Grievance Process: Making It Right for Those Who Serve. Given the amount of interest there is in this issue amongst our constitutents and stakeholders, we published the report on May 18, 2010, pursuant to paragraph 38(1)(b) of the Ministerial Directives respecting the Office of the Ombudsman.

As we determined in our investigation, the current Canadian Forces redress of grievance process is fundamentally unfair to the men and women of the Canadian Forces, particularly given the fact that the Chief of the Defence Staff does not have the authority to award monetary compensation to resolve a legitimate grievance.

As you are aware, our office was not the first to identify this unfairness. Former Chief Justice of Canada, the Honourable Antonio Lamer, made a similar finding in 2003, and his recommendation that the Chief of the Defence Staff should indeed have this authority was accepted by the government of the day.

In your April 15, 2010 letter, you mention that you have asked a working group to study our findings and  “the challenges” associated with the recommendations that we have made. Since this matter was previously reviewed and studied in 2003, I trust this process will not take very long.

I also note that, in a May 19, 2010, article published in the Ottawa Sun, your spokesman, Mr. Dan Dugas, is quoted as saying that any changes to allow the Chief of the Defence Staff to award monetary compensation under the redress of grievance process would require  “legislative amendments.” I sincerely hope that all avenues to address this unfairness are being reviewed by the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces, as amendments to legislation may not be necessary and a solution may not be that complicated.

I look forward to hearing from you once the working group has completed its review and a solution is found to finally correct this unfairness.

Yours truly,

Pierre Daigle

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