Ombudsman Highlights a Year of Positive Results for Canada’s Defence Community


Ottawa, October 19, 2010 – The Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces, Mr. Pierre Daigle, today released his 2009-2010 annual report, entitled Caring for Canada’s Defence Community.

In his annual report, the Ombudsman highlighted that the office handled more than 1,300 individual cases in 2009-2010. “I am very pleased to be able to report on the work carried out by our office this year,” stated Mr. Daigle. “As in years past, our focus – our priority – continues to be providing information and assistance to individual members of the Defence community.” 

Throughout 2009-2010, the office also continued to monitor and report on several broader issues. In May 2009, the Ombudsman released the findings of the office’s follow up review regarding the difficulty unilingual students were experiencing in getting access to training and essential services in their first official language at Canadian Forces Bases Borden, Gagetown and St-Jean Garrison.

In June 2009, the Ombudsman published the results of the office’s investigation into complaints from Canadian Forces recruits and Officer Cadets at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in St-Jean, Quebec, who were released from the military as a result of an injury that they received during basic training.

At the end of 2009, the Ombudsman published the findings of the office’s follow-up review of its 2005 special report, When a Soldier Falls. Following the review, the Ombudsman informed the Minister of National Defence that the office was still receiving a number of complaints from military families who were not getting the information, support and assistance they needed after their loved one died as a result of military service. In particular, the Ombudsman noted that the military had not yet put in place a national policy for support to families of deceased Canadian Forces members even though commitments had been made in this regard. He also criticized the Canadian Forces for excluding family members from Boards of Inquiry convened into the death or serious injury of a Canadian Forces member.

In follow-up correspondence with the Minister of National Defence, the Ombudsman also urged him to reconsider his position that the Canadian Forces’ efforts to date were sufficient to address the outstanding issues. Mr. Daigle stated,  “Our families sacrifice a great deal for their military loved ones and their country. They deserve to be supported and treated with the utmost dignity and respect.

Finally, in the spring of 2010, the office released the results of its investigation of the Canadian Forces redress of grievance process. The review found that the process – which is supposed to provide soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen with a quick and informal mechanism to challenge Canadian Forces actions and resolve matters without the need of the courts or other processes – was flawed and unfair. Specifically, the Ombudsman determined that the Chief of the Defence Staff, who is the final decision-maker in the grievance process, does not have the authority to provide financial compensation to fully resolve unfairness.

In my view, it simply defies logic that the Chief of the Defence Staff is charged with the control and administration of the Canadian Forces, but is not given the authority to pay out a $50 claim,” stated Mr. Daigle. “It also seems unreasonable that a government lawyer, whose role is to provide advice, has more decision-making authority regarding compensation than the Chief of the Defence Staff.

As part of an ongoing effort to reach out to members of the Defence community, the Ombudsman also launched a new outreach program designed to raise awareness and understanding of his office. During trips to 17 Wing in Winnipeg and Canadian Forces Base Halifax, Mr. Daigle and Ombudsman staff met with a number of military personnel, civilian employees and military families in order to listen to their concerns and take any necessary action. The Ombudsman also met with a number of individuals who support and assist Canadian Forces members, Defence employees and their families – chaplains, medical staff, Military Family Resource Centre staff and social workers – to get a sense of the challenges they face in their day-to-day work.

More information on the office’s investigations and special reports, including the 2009-2010 annual report, is available on the Ombudsman’s website.

For additional information, please contact:

Michelle Laliberté
Communications Advisor
Office of the Ombudsman
Tel: (613) 995-8643

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