Update on the Ombudsman’s Study into The Feasibility of Providing Periodic Health Assessments to All Primary Reservists

November 21, 2017

This serves as my second update on Periodic Health Assessments for Primary Reservists. In March 2017, I mentioned that the Chief of the Defence Staff had directed a new expedited Primary Reserve enrolment process which resulted in the Canadian Forces Health Services Group focusing their resources towards medical screening for all Canadian Armed Forces applicants at the time of enrolment. As such, the Canadian Forces Health Services Group had to delay the trial of a new assessment tool – the Reserve Medical Readiness Questionnaire – until the summer of 2017.

Since that update, my Office has maintained regular contact with the Canadian Forces Health Services Group. Today, I am able to provide you with the following information:

  • The expedited Primary Reserve enrolment process is now in place in each respective element responsible for processing applicants. Every Canadian Armed Forces candidate now receives a medical screening at the time of enrolment and is assigned a category.
  • With respect to the provision of Periodic Health Assessments, the Reserve Medical Readiness Questionnaire, intended for serving Reservists, was developed as an interim tool to assess members’ occupational fitness for domestic training/tasks.
  • This self-administered questionnaire was trialed for Reservists deploying on Operation NANOOK and Operation LENTUS. The Canadian Forces Health Services Group reviewed lessons learned from the limited trial and intends to review the plan for the Reserve Medical Readiness Questionnaire. Meanwhile, the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force units have been advised to include time in their training plans beginning in the fall of 2017 in preparation for its anticipated roll-out.

At the time of the data collection for this study, it was noted that 26 percent of the Reservists had an expired Periodic Health Assessment. In September 2016, the Canadian Forces Health Services Group estimated that 19 percent of the Reservists had an expired Periodic Health Assessment based on limited information extracted from the Human Resources Management System.

Two years have now passed since the publication of the study. Though the Department of National Defence has taken steps in the right direction, it is still unclear if this questionnaire will be the new way forward, replacing the current assessment process. As such, I remain concerned about the lack of progress made in ensuring Primary Reservists are provided Periodic Health Assessments. My Office will continue to closely monitor this file and request regular updates on any progress made.

I encourage all Primary Reservists and their family members to contact my Office if they have any questions or concerns about this study or any processes affecting their care.

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