Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU) Update

Ombudsman Message | 17 May 2018


Since the beginning of my mandate as National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces Ombudsman, my office has been carefully tracking issues and complaints surrounding the performance of the Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU). As early as the Fall of 2014, given the evidence my office held, I contemplated launching a systemic review of the JPSU surrounding troubling administrative and procedural fairness issues and inconsistencies surrounding the unit. With assurances of the chain of command that they were launching their own review of the JPSU governance structure, as well as the policies and procedures that govern it, I put this review on hold.

However, several JPSU Commanders over three years and an “ongoing review” cycle led my office to contemplate once again launching a systemic review in 2017. The bottom line was that our office was still receiving complaints related to the JPSU, and staffing shortages remained a serious issue.

In Canada’s defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, the government adopted a number of recommendations that my office has made over the past few years. Namely, to “ensure that all benefits will be in place before a member transitions to post-military life”. My office and its broad constituency have yet to see a policy suite put in place in support of this important proclamation and some members have, and continue to be, released from the military before all benefits are in place.

While our office cannot yet ascertain whether it is as a result of the umbrella declaration in Strong, Secure, Engaged, an increased flexibility provided to JPSU administrators on the ground, some incredibly innovative solutions being developed and implemented at a regional level, or a combination of all three; my office is receiving less complaints at intake and what we are hearing on the ground during our dozens of engagement activities across the country is increasingly positive.   Additionally, current manning of the JPSUs is approximately 410 personnel. While it has been reported to our office that approximately 32 vacancies remain, this represents an improvement upon years’ past. Every effort to ensure that sufficient resources are put in place to meet the needs of the JPSU should be taken to support this move in the right direction.

As Ombudsman, I must remain cautiously optimistic. Whatever is being done on the ground that is having a positive effect should help to inform the development and implementation of policy and new directives; and whatever is being developed and rolled-out needs to be transmitted clearly and concisely across the country. JPSU staff need to have all the tools necessary to do their jobs.

We must not lose the momentum on this issue. Our men and women in uniform are depending on us. It is my sincere hope that the necessary improvements to the JPSU can be achieved, and, I sincerely believe they can, but only if the adequate resources, clear policy and strong leadership are present.


Gary Walbourne


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