Message from the Ombudsman - September 19, 2014

Ombudsman pleased to find improvements in the processing of Reserve Force pensions and severance pay - but more work needs to be done

Over the past several years, the delays in the processing of Reserve Force pension benefits and severance pay have been a concern for my office. Our intake team has received a significant number of complaints from Reserve Force members who are concerned about the impact these delays will have on their families. As a result, I directed our investigative team to examine the matter in greater detail.

There is no question that these types of delays can represent significant financial hardship for Reserve Force members and their families. However, despite ongoing complaints related to the processing of Reserve Pensions, our investigators noted a decrease in complaints since 2007. More importantly, the organizations responsible for administering both the pension and severance systems have recognized, and are taking steps to address these issues.

Specifically, the Chief Military Personnel (CMP) has taken several measures to reduce processing times; including an increase in staffing and the implementation of new, more efficient systems. It currently takes an average of four months to process a Reservist Pension from the date of release. This means that the processing times have been reduced by 50% since March 2013. In light of further efforts made by CMP it is anticipated that the average processing time for Reserve pensions will be further reduced to 2 months by the end of 2015.

The Office has continued to receive complaints related to delays in the processing of Reserve Severance Pay. Currently, it takes an average of 9 to 18 months to process Reserve Severance Pay from the date of release. However, we have been informed that the Released Personnel Pay Office (RPPO) Reserve (Res) intends to significantly increase its staff by mid-September 2014. We anticipate that this injection of resources will begin to reduce the backlog and wait times in the near future. RPPO (Res) hopes to eliminate its backlog within the next two years.

Overall, I am pleased to see that CMP has recognized these problems and has taken concrete steps to resolve them. My office will continue to monitor this issue closely and will follow-up with CMP on a regular basis, in order to assess its progress in delivering timely services to Canada’s Reserve Force members.

Gary Walbourne

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