Message from the Ombudsman (January 30, 2014)

Update on Reserve Force Pension Plan

In 2009, our office launched a preliminary investigation into issues related to Canadian Forces pension plans, in part, to determine the cause of delays in the processing of Reserve Force pension benefits, severance pay and gratuities.

 

As a result of a performance audit of the Reserve Force Pension Plan implementation launched by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) in June of 2010, our office decided to review their report before finalizing our position on the matter. In the interim, we continued to monitor the concerns raised and address complaints on an individual basis. 

 

The Department of National Defence agreed with the Auditor General’s recommendation, acknowledged the observations and the areas for improvement and indicated it would “proceed aggressively” while continuing to focus resources on the processing of file backlogs. Additionally, the Department confirmed it would “…continue to focus efforts to develop and enhance the performance management framework for pension services,” and would create “…measurable and meaningful service standards.”

 

Since the publication of the audit, our office has conducted a number of follow-up activities to determine the extent to which improvements have been made to the system and, ultimately, to the reduction of wait times for Reserve Force members to receive the pension and severance benefits to which they are entitled.

 

Disappointingly, and despite our numerous efforts to raise and discuss these concerns with the Department, the backlog and chronic, excessive delays in paying Reservists their entitlements persist. This is both unfair and unacceptable.

 

While we continue to address individual complaints regarding delays, this matter has clearly become a systemic problem. Consequently, we have written to the Chief of the Defence Staff in order to highlight the Office’s longstanding concerns. In order to assist us in our work and ongoing evaluation of these issues at a systemic level, we have also requested an update regarding the efforts outlined in the Department’s response to the Auditor General.

 

The Auditor General’s findings and recommendation were published in the spring of 2011. They can be found at:

http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/parl_oag_201104_03_e_35222.html

 

Pierre Daigle
Ombudsman

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