ARCHIVED - Military Ombudsman Seeks Input on the Canadian Forces Recruiting System

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Early in 2008, the Ombudsman’s office will begin the follow-up phase of its investigation into the military recruiting system, which was published in the 2006 special report, The Canadian Face Behind the Recruiting Targets: A Review of the Canadian Forces Recruiting System – From Attraction to Enrolment.

The special report focused on the way in which applicants were treated by the Canadian Forces from the time of their first contact with the military to the point when they were enrolled, found to be unsuitable for military service or quit. The examination of the recruiting system also included areas where a perceived lack of effectiveness or efficiency on the part of the Canadian Forces had a negative impact on Canadian applicants.

 “For the overwhelming majority of new applicants, the initial recruiting phase is their first experience with the Canadian Forces,” stated Mr. Côté, the military Ombudsman. He added,  “If this experience is unsatisfactory for any reason, there is a strong possibility that an applicant will discontinue the process. This could – and does – result in the loss to the Canadian Forces of some of the most skilled and talented Canadians.”  

The investigation found that, since 2002, the Canadian Forces has met or has come close to meeting its overall recruiting targets; however, the investigation also concluded that there is significant room for improvement related to recruiting. In particular, the Ombudsman emphasized his concern regarding the number of applicants that quit the process as a result of a problem or delay experienced during one of the recruiting phases.

 “Meeting the established recruiting targets cannot and must not be the only benchmark of success for the Canadian Forces,” stated Mr. Côté. He added,  “It is clear from our investigation that the Canadian Forces must improve the quality and timeliness of the service provided to applicants to ensure that it does not routinely lose the services of talented Canadians interested in a military career.” 

As part of the overall review, the office selected 301 complaints that were received between 2003 and 2005 for in-depth study. These complaints revealed a number of potential systemic issues within the Canadian Forces recruiting and selection process, including:

  • a lack of responsiveness on the part of some recruiters in their dealings with applicants;
  • excessive delays in the recruiting process, particularly with the medical assessment and security portions of the process; and
  • problems in obtaining accurate information on the recruiting incentives program.

In addition to identifying a number of problem areas in the military recruiting system, the special report contains 18 recommendations aimed primarily at improving the level of service that is provided to Canadian applicants. Focused on re-positioning the recruiting process as a ‘client focused’ service, the recommendations call for, among other things: the creation of comprehensive service standards (e.g., a standard timeframe in which applicants can expect to receive replies to their questions) that would be used by all recruiting centres across the country; additional training for recruiting centre staff; the clear assignment of responsibility and authority for the overall military recruiting process; and a reduction of delays in the security screening process.

Tell Us About Your Experience

As part of this follow-up review, Ombudsman investigators will be conducting interviews and research to assess the status of implementation of the recommendations contained in the special report.

In particular, the office would like to speak to a number of current applicants or former applicants who participated in the recruiting process between January 2007 and the present, whether or not they actually joined the Canadian Forces. If you would like to tell us about your experience, please contact us confidentially at 1-888-828-3626 or through our website at

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