Message from the Ombudsman (October 22, 2015)

Ombudsman Releases Study into the Feasibility of Providing Periodic Health Assessments to All Primary Reservists

Today our office released the results of its first joint study with the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces. Produced in partnership with the Canadian Forces Health Services Group, The Feasibility of Providing Periodic Health Assessments to All Primary Reservists examines and reports on the resources involved in providing regular medicals to members of the Primary Reserve at the same standard as the Regular Force.

A Periodic Health Assessment is a structured health review given at fixed intervals to ensure Forces personnel are medically fit for military duties. Regular Force members are assessed regularly; Reserve members usually are not.

In our 2008 report, Reserved Care: An Investigation into the Treatment of Injured Reservists and its 2012 follow-up, we recommended that Periodic Health Assessment standards be applied equally to Regular and Primary Reserve Force personnel.

The role of Canada’s Primary Reserve Force has evolved dramatically over the last several years. As such, it has become necessary to ensure that, like the Regular Force, they are fit and ready to serve at any given moment; but there are policies, directives, and, consequently, practices that have not caught up with this change. One of those is the Periodic Health Assessment.

Without Reservists receiving regular medical assessments, the Canadian Armed Forces cannot guarantee that Reservists are fit to train, to participate in exercises, to be employed, or to be ready for deployment on domestic emergencies.

There are over 30 Canadian Forces Health Services Centres located throughout Canada. Several have identified possible resource constraints should they be required to take on the additional assessments which could amount to over 6,000 additional medical assessments per year.

The report includes comprehensive data that the Canadian Forces Health Services Group can use to determine the total investment required (money, time and personnel) to provide Periodic Health Assessments to all Primary Reservists.

Reservists, both serving and retired, as well as their immediate families, form an important part of our constituency. The Ombudsman’s Office remains committed to ensuring fair and equitable treatment for all members of the Canadian Forces.

If you have any questions about this study and how it may affect you, I encourage you to contact the Office. We are ready to help.

Gary Walbourne

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