Message from the Ombudsman (February 18, 2015)

Military Transition to Civilian Life – What You Need to Know About Priority Hiring

Earlier this year, my Office and that of the Veterans’ Ombudsman launched a joint review on Canadian Armed Forces members’ transition to civilian life. 
One of the issues that we have been monitoring as part of this review is the priority hiring of released Canadian Armed Forces members. 
On March 4, 2014, Parliament introduced Bill C-27 – An Act to amend the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA). One of the goals of this bill is to give ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces members priority for appointments to Public Service positions. A key aspect of the bill is the need to choose one Public Service organization to determine whether the military member’s medical condition is a result of service.
After a thorough review of Bill C-27 with my legal team, we decided to undertake our own analysis and weigh in on the crucial question of who should be given authority to determine whether medical release is attributable to the member’s service.
In particular, we looked at the three key stakeholders – the Public Service Commission, Veterans Affairs Canada, and the Canadian Armed Forces – and based our decision on the following fundamental assumptions:

  • Releasing Canadian Armed Forces members should not be disadvantaged;
  • The entry point into the priority administration should be uncomplicated and timely; and
  • The administrative mechanisms put in place in order to give effect to Bill C-27 should be both efficient and cost effective. 

Overall, our analysis demonstrates that the Canadian Armed Forces is best placed to determine whether a medical release is due to service. The Canadian Armed Forces has expertise in making such a determination, has control of the evidence (personnel and medical records), is already responsible for registering military members for priority hiring status, and has a system already in place that currently makes this determination for compensation for Reservists. More importantly, the Canadian Armed Forces is positioned to make the timeliest decision (i.e., at the time of a member’s release), thereby providing the quickest access to Public Service jobs, which is the main advantage intended by Bill C-27.
Ultimately, assigning the responsibility to the Canadian Armed Forces encourages a straightforward and uninterrupted transition for former Canadian Armed Forces members who have become ill or injured as a result of their service.
Bill C-27 is currently before the Senate of Canada for final review. I encourage all who are part of the Defence community to review our analysis, discuss it with your colleagues, and make it part of the debate. These are processes that affect human beings in a time of need. The Government of Canada needs to create the conditions for the best outcome possible. 
If you have any questions about our analysis or about the priority hiring of Canadian Armed Forces members, I encourage you to contact us. We are ready to help.

Gary Walbourne

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