A civilian employee of National Defence came to the Ombudsman’s Office seeking reimbursement for overpayments made to a medical service plan. The employee had unknowingly paid duplicate premiums for over a decade, following her separation from her spouse. As soon as she was made aware of these duplicate payments, the employee notified her compensation advisor who took the appropriate steps to correct the issue. The employee then requested that she be reimbursed for the overpayment. A number of options were explored but no resolution was reached. Finally, after several years of failed attempts to claim her money, the employee turned to the Ombudsman’s Office.
An Ombudsman investigator evaluated the employee’s claim and requested that a formal review of her file be conducted. Two months after the investigator’s intervention, the complainant was notified that she was entitled to a reimbursement of five years of overpayments according to the existing policy.
A number of years ago, a senior officer in the Canadian Armed Forces helped during a plane crash retrieval operation in Halifax. Though the crew’s actions were very brave, the incident had a negative psychological effect on many of those who had helped, including the officer. The officer felt like he had fallen off the radar and had nowhere to go.
The officer approached the Department of Veterans Affairs in the hopes of obtaining a disability pension. A member of Veterans Affairs staff then brought the situation to the attention of an Operational Stress Injury Social Support representative out of concern for the officer’s mental health. At this point, the representative contacted an investigator at the Office.
The investigator began facilitating discussions with Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces staff regarding the release of the officer and monetary compensation given the circumstances surrounding the case. With the help of a number of Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces staff, the investigator was successful in obtaining the Reserve Force Retirement Gratuity and a disability compensation package.
The former senior officer is now receiving proper medical attention. He is also in contact with the Operational Stress Injury Social Support representative in the city where he resides, and is receiving a disability pension through Veterans Affairs. All of this, along with the support he received from the three organizations, has helped the former officer put his life back together.
A master corporal in British Columbia learned that his mother, who lived in Ontario, was critically ill. He was given authority to travel and was told that on his return he’d receive a refund of the travel costs. So he spent the Christmas holidays with his mother.
When he returned to his unit, the master corporal was told that administrative staff had made a mistake: he wasn’t entitled to reimbursement. Director Compensation and Benefits Administration officials said that reimbursement for those expenses is normally available only to members on compassionate leave. According to their records, the master corporal had been on retirement leave.
The Ombudsman investigator determined that the master corporal had taken all the necessary steps before departure. The error occurred at the local level because his status had not been changed before he was authorized to travel for compassionate reasons. For the next two years the investigator worked with the unit administration and Director Compensation and Benefits Administration officials. Finally, after considering the situation from the point of view of administrative fairness, Director Compensation and Benefits Administration reversed the original decision and the master corporal was refunded the money he spent in travelling to visit his dying mother.
A reserve member called our Office in tears. She had a newborn baby and had been seriously injured in an accident a few weeks after starting maternity leave. She was concerned that she wouldn’t have a job to return to after her 12-month leave. The member took a civilian job, and then was informed that she might have to pay back a portion of the maternity benefits she had just received. Her benefits were paid by both the Canadian Armed Forces and Employment Insurance, but the two bureaucracies weren’t speaking to each other and no one would give her a straight answer.
The investigator called the member’s unit, then continued up the chain. A military administrator in Ottawa assigned an analyst, who determined that the member did not have to pay back any money to the Canadian Armed Forces, and the member was then able to resolve her issue with Employment Insurance.
Despite the positive outcome, the military administrator in Ottawa was disappointed that the issue took nine months to resolve—and only after it had been brought to her attention by the Ombudsman’s Office. She encouraged the unit to take a more proactive role when other bureaucracies are having a negative impact on members’ lives. She commented: “I think it is the decent and responsible thing to do as the member’s employer.”
A frustrated father contacted this Office on behalf of his son, who was a member of the Regular Force when an accident left him permanently disabled. For 12 years following the accident, he lived in an extended-care hospital facility and received the 24-hour care he needed. Sun Life Insurance paid for his room.
Unfortunately, the facility closed and the former member’s family had to move him to another extended-care home. The family was shocked to discover that his room was no longer being paid for, even though his needs had not changed. The social worker at the new facility tried, without success, to get answers from Sun Life Insurance.
When the Ombudsman investigator contacted Sun Life Insurance, he was referred to the Public Service Health Care Plan Trust. The trust administrator explained, after the trust had considered the case, that the provincial Ministry of Health determines which facilities are classified as hospitals and therefore which ones the insurance plan will cover. The new facility did not meet the Province’s criteria. However, the administrator pointed out that there was another facility nearby, and that if the son could be transferred there, his room would be paid for.
Although the answer was not the one the father was hoping for, he was grateful that his son’s care had been carefully reviewed and that he had been provided with the reasons for the decision.
After almost 30 years of dedicated service to the CF, a senior Reserve officer was told that, as a result of restructuring, his position had become redundant, and that no alternative position was available. The Reserve officer thought that it was personal dislike rather than restructuring that fueled this sudden move. But rather than grieving or objecting, he resigned with less than two years remaining before his compulsory retirement date.
Years later, the former Reserve officer still felt angry and betrayed. That is when he came to the Office. He told the investigator that he felt he was unfairly forced to retire. He suggested that the timing of his position redundancy was a mere couple of months before the introduction of a new severance package. He saw this as a move to ensure that he would not be eligible for the Reserve Force Retirement Gratuity.
Since the triggering incident in this case occurred before the creation of the Office, the Minister’s authorization was obtained to go forward with the investigation. It soon became clear that looking into the case was going to be difficult – time had passed, and people had moved on.
But the case suddenly took an unexpected twist during an initial review of the former Reserve officer’s military personnel file. The investigator noticed that the date of release seemed to be two years later than when he said he had retired.
Many phone calls later, it turned out that there had been a lengthy delay in finalizing the release paperwork, and the former Reserve officer’s official date of release was actually 1998, not 1996 when he had left his job! This discovery raised an interesting question: did the delay mean that the complainant was officially still a member of the Forces when the retirement gratuity came into effect, and was he, as a result, eligible for it? The answer was yes. In the end, he received a retirement gratuity of $35,000.
Though the former Reserve officer was somewhat disappointed that the circumstances of his release could not be completely addressed, it was some consolation that his situation prompted review of other files and led to the discovery of similar cases of delayed releases. Those former members were undoubtedly pleased to receive severance payments they had not expected.
A complainant came to our office claiming to have suffered insults and harassment in the workplace and looking to be placed on the Service Personnel Holding List until his medical release from the Canadian Forces could be processed.
After Ombudsman investigators met with the complainant’s Base Commander and others involved in his case, the complainant was able to leave his unit and was placed on the Service Personnel Holding List unit pending his formal release date. The Base Commander also agreed to investigate the allegations of insults and harassment in the complainant’s workplace.
The complainant expressed his appreciation to the Ombudsman investigators for their intervention and the positive result achieved in his case.
Cases of harassment in the workplace are often complex, and the following situation was no exception.
The complainant had filed an allegation of harassment against his supervisor. The supervisor was charged and convicted of assault. Appropriate disciplinary action was taken. Despite the advice of his medical officer, the complainant was being expected to work alongside his assailant. Furthermore, he had been promised a posting out of the unit and this had not happened. His supervisors were changing rapidly and a quick resolution of the problem seemed nowhere in sight. The complainant*s stress level was extremely high; he felt he had nowhere to turn.
This Office stepped in. The chief petty officer for the unit, familiar with the case, assured the complainant that he could contact him directly any time that he needed. He agreed to monitor the situation and make every effort to have him posted out of the unit. Our investigator maintained periodic contact with the complainant to follow the development of his work assignments and to seek an ultimate resolution to the problem.
In short order, the complainant was given a posting to a trades course where, by his own account, he did very well. On returning from the course, he was posted out of the unit. For him, stress in the workplace is now a thing of the past, and he reports he is happy in his current job.
A corporal came to the Office alleging that her supervisor and unit members were harassing her. She was so overwhelmed by this negative atmosphere at work, and the lack of support from the chain of command, that she had taken stress leave, and was seeing a psychologist.
It was thought to be in the best interest of the corporal if she moved out of her current work environment, so she was asking for the Office’s assistance in obtaining a contingency cost move (CCM). The investigator began the process by contacting the member’s career manager. The career manager suggested that to facilitate a CCM, the member should submit a harassment complaint. The corporal felt that this was not the right route to take, since she believed the complaint would not be taken seriously by the chain of command. The investigator then began to explore other options. He contacted the corporal’s CO, and suggested a meeting be set up in order to negotiate a transfer. Both the corporal and the CO requested the assistance of the Dispute Resolution Centre for this negotiation.
A settlement was reached two months later. The corporal obtained a transfer to another department within her base, and was pleased to be back at work after months of being on stress leave. She thanked everyone involved for working so hard on her behalf and helping her obtain a transfer.
A member of the Regular Force had filed a harassment complaint against a superior officer in his unit. The complaint arose out of an altercation that had sparked charges and an investigation
After filing the complaint, the member felt that his working environment had become so tense that it was intolerable. He sought a Quality of Life posting which would re-unite him with his fiancée. Several months went by. There was no movement on either the posting or the harassment complaint.
To further complicate matters, the complainant was now facing charges as a result of the altercation. He felt that the charges were merely retaliatory measures being taken against him, and that these measures were being offered as reasons for the delays.
He turned to this Office for help.
The investigator met with the complainant to discuss the situation. There were also numerous informal meetings with officers in the unit, as well as the unit's padre and those who had investigated the case.
Charges against the complainant were dropped. He was exonerated and as a result of the Office*s intervention, progress was made on both the harassment complaint and the Quality of Life posting. The harassment complaint was resolved in his favour and he received his posting.
A doctor’s report attested to the fact that a member’s private married quarters contained allergens that were affecting the medical allergy condition of the member’s son. The complainant notified the Canadian Forces Housing Authority that the carpets needed to be replaced and the heating ducts cleaned.
The Canadian Forces Housing Authority did not accept the doctor’s report. An official letter, they said, would be required. In turn, the complainant believed that the cost of such a letter should be borne by the Canadian Forces Housing Authority .
The Ombudsman’s Office was contacted. The investigator met with the complainant and subsequently visited his private married quarters with a Canadian Forces Housing Authority representative and a preventive medicine technician. Together they determined that, in addition to the carpets and ducts, other deficiencies needed to be corrected. The Canadian Forces Housing Authority representative agreed to have the repairs done, but only if an official letter from the family physician was presented.
The investigator contacted the family physician, who offered to supply an official letter without charge. Upon receipt of the letter, the Canadian Forces Housing Authority ordered the work to be done.
A former CF member, while he was still serving, bought a house after getting information from Base officials about his entitlements. Following the purchase he was told that he had been given incorrect information. Base officials wanted the former member to be reimbursed for his legal fees and disbursements, but DCBA officials said that he was not entitled.
The Ombudsman investigator forwarded the case documentation to DCBA staff, who eventually agreed that the former member should not have to suffer as a result of bad advice. The former member then received a cheque that covered his legal fees, disbursements and house inspection costs—a relief to both him and Base personnel.
A member who was medically released from the CF after being diagnosed with PTSD selected an isolated community up north for his intended place of residence upon release. He chose that location because he had family there who could support him.
While on his house-hunting trip, the member discovered that the special treatment he required wasn’t available in the immediate area and he’d have to travel 700 kilometres every two weeks for medical appointments. He consulted with his psychiatrist and decided it would be preferable and prudent to stay in the area where he was released. He therefore decided to remain where he was. Because he had changed his mind, DCBA was refusing to pay his $4,000 claim for his trip up north.
The member contacted us, and our investigator contacted DCBA. The investigator explained the member’s medical situation and determined exactly what information was needed to substantiate his request. The member provided the required physician’s letter, and DCBA agreed to refund the full amount of the house-hunting claim.
After having been diagnosed with an operational stress injury, a corporal was transferred outside his combat arms unit to new duties. Although the member had developed the skills required for his new duties, his chain of command informed him the current regulations did not allow him to stay on, and so he was to be medically released.
The corporal contacted the Office asking whether his release could be postponed despite having an injury that limits the performance of some military duties. The member was in the final three years of his contract, and wanted to be accommodated long enough for him to reach his 20-year mark of service. The investigator contacted the chain of command in the member’s unit. They confirmed that he was doing an outstanding job, and that they did indeed require his services, as they were currently understaffed. However, they reiterated that, under current regulations, they could not continue to retain him.
Convinced of the merits of this complaint, the investigator contacted a senior officer within ADM (HR-Mil). After discussing the case with him, the senior officer suggested that a resolution might be possible and committed to get back to the investigator within weeks.
As promised, two weeks later, the senior officer contacted the investigator. The investigator was informed that the regulations, although under review, would take some time to work through due to the many complex resource implications. The official then stated that he agreed with the fundamental merits of this case, and that a resolution had been brokered among several CF leaders that would allow the corporal to serve out the three years remaining on his contract.
The resolution meant that the short-staffed military section got to keep a person who was making a valuable contribution to the unit, and the soldier can now reach his goal of completing 20 years of service.
A member was being medically released after being diagnosed with PTSD as a result of heroic measures she engaged in as part of her duty. Despite her injuries in a helicopter crash during peacekeeping service, the member was instrumental in saving the lives of others aboard the helicopter. For these outstanding actions, she received the Medal of Bravery.
Because of her dedication to the Forces, the member felt justified in asking for a short delay in her release so that she could achieve a significant personal milestone – twenty years of service. Though there were no additional financial or other benefits associated with reaching this milestone, the member still wanted to complete the next few months. Her request was denied.
Subsequently, the circumstances surrounding the release were brought to the Office by both the member’s caregiver and a senior non-commissioned member of the CF, with an appeal for help. In the opinion of the member’s caregiver, the sense of pride and accomplishment gained by completing twenty years of service was an important psychological concern.
The member appealed several times, as did the caregiver and other serving members in the chain of command. The CF administration, interpreting the regulations in accordance with existing policy, stood firm and ruled that the release date would not be changed. They were concerned that a precedent would be set and many others would begin requesting extensions to release dates for less valid reasons.
The Office was able, with the help of the caregiver and the senior non-commissioned member, to bring this case to the attention of the ADM (HR-Mil). He quickly recognized the importance of this request and directed that the extension of service be granted.
A private with three years of service was notified that he was facing a possible medical release from the Forces because of a food allergy. The problem? Brazil nuts. It seemed that this allergy was deemed serious enough that he could not serve.
Needless to say, the private was not happy with this possibility and appealed it. Leaving the Forces would have a profound impact on his life, and it seemed unnecessary to take such extreme actions for a low-risk allergy.
After not receiving any information about his appeal for over two months, the private came to the Office. The investigator contacted Director Medical Policy (D Med Pol), and learned that the appeal had been submitted to Director Military Careers and Resource Management (DMCARM). The private’s allergy had been assessed, and DMCARM determined that it was indeed low risk. After extensive consultation with both D Med Pol and DMCARM, it was decided that the private would be retained in the Forces, with the condition that he carry his epinephrine medication with him at all times.
This set the precedent for similar cases. It is now required that members have their condition assessed to determine the risk level of the allergy and whether continued employment can be granted in spite of it.
In May 2010, a retired Canadian Forces member contacted the Ombudsman’s office after discovering that he had been denied the Canadian Forces’ Decoration (CD). This decoration is awarded to officers and Non-Commissioned Members of the Canadian Forces who have completed twelve years of service and who have a good record of conduct. As part of an initial assessment of the case, an investigator from the Ombudsman’s office reviewed the member’s file and contacted the Directorate of Honours and Recognition – the section responsible for long service and good conduct awards for retired service members – to examine, and potentially rectify, the situation.
During his review, the Ombudsman investigator discovered that the member’s Commanding Officer had not been in possession of specific information that could have influenced the decision to award the complainant the Canadian Forces’ Decoration. In light of the new information, the investigator requested that a detailed review of the member’s file be conducted by the Directorate of Honours and Recognition. In July 2010, the Directorate of Honours and Recognition completed its review and concluded that the member was indeed entitled to receive the decoration.
Following this review, the Ombudsman investigator sent a letter to the complainant explaining the steps that he needed to take to apply for, and receive, the recognition he so richly deserved.
A military spouse and her husband contacted our Office because of a two-year delay in processing their request for a one-year extension to their Intended Place of Residence (IPR). The couple proceeded with their last move from Alberta to Ontario, with the hopes that their expenses would be reimbursed at a later date. While they waited for a response, the moving expenses of $20,000 were placing significant strain on their finances.
An investigator with the Office sent a request to the Director of Compensation & Benefits Administration (DCBA) seeking an update on the status of the member’s IPR request. DCBA advised that they were aware of this request but were unable to process it because they had not received all of the required information from the Base Canadian Forces Integrated Relocation Coordinator. At the urging of the Ombudsman investigator, DCBA agreed to treat the request as a priority and aggressively pursued the missing information.
Thanks to the intervention of the Ombudsman’s Office, and given that the member completed the relocation at personal expense within the three-year policy time limit, DCBA exercised Ministerial authority and approved the reimbursement of the family’s eligible relocation costs a few months later.
A retired member of the Canadian Forces approached the Ombudsman’s Office after his request for reimbursement of nearly $3,000 in Land Transfer Taxes was denied. The member had purchased a home outside of the country and, in keeping with the Canadian Forces Integrated Relocation Program, had been told that he would be eligible for benefits equivalent to those awarded for a move to the closest Canadian border point to his new home. Subsequent to his move, the member submitted a claim to the Directorate of Compensation Benefits Administration (DCBA) requesting reimbursement of “Document Duty Fees.” The claim was denied by DCBA because there were no provisions for such specific fees levied by foreign governments. Undeterred, the member re-submitted the claim with additional supporting documentation. The claim was once again denied. Not knowing where else to turn, the member contacted our office.
At the urging of the Ombudsman investigator assigned to the case, the Directorate of Compensation Benefits Administration undertook a third evaluation of the request for reimbursement. They determined that some of the fees charged by this foreign government were equivalent to the Land Transfer Tax and the Deed Transfer Fee and, as a result, the fees were approved.
Although it took the intervention of the Ombudsman’s office to finally resolve the issue, the Canadian Forces member did receive the nearly $3,000 that was owed to him.
A member of the Canadian Armed Forces, looking into purchasing his first home, learned from his base staff that he was eligible for a Crown-paid move. With this information, he decided to go ahead and buy his new home.
Just prior to taking possession, the member was informed by his base that the information he had received about the purchase of the house was incorrect, and that he was in fact not eligible to receive any reimbursements. The base contacted the Director Compensation and Benefits Administration, and explained the predicament. They asked that the member be reimbursed for legal fees and disbursements for the purchase of the house, based on the information that was provided to the member by base staff. Director Compensation and Benefits Administration remained firm, and stated that he was not eligible for a Crown-paid move under current regulations.
The member then contacted the Office with the hopes that an investigator might be able to help with the situation. The investigator contacted Director Compensation and Benefits Administration, and also received the same response: the member was not eligible regardless of what information he had received from his base staff. The investigator persisted and the case was finally forwarded to another Director Compensation and Benefits Administration staff member. After reviewing the documentation, Director Compensation and Benefits Administration agreed that the member should in fact be reimbursed for the move. In the past, the Department of National Defence has stated that members should not have to suffer as a result of poor administration or bad advice. Director Compensation and Benefits Administration directed the base to reimburse the member for his legal fees, disbursements, and house inspection costs.
This decision brought relief to the member and also to the staff on the base, who felt that not reimbursing the member was unfair.
Being posted to a new location in the Canadian Forces often presents unique challenges. One such challenge came to light in June 2001 when a sergeant in the CF contacted the Office of the Ombudsman.
The CF member, who was posted to a new base, was concerned that his 17-year-old son, who suffers from spina bifida and requires special care, would not be able to function in the new home unless the house was equipped with a lift. Without a lift, the young man would have to crawl up the stairs to his second floor bedroom. Aside from the hardship this would entail, an obvious fire hazard existed because he would be unable to escape quickly and safely if the house caught fire.
The complainant contacted the base social worker and the Canadian Forces Personnel Assistance Fund. He was told that certain changes would be made to the house, such as installing a ramp, but there was little hope a lift would be installed. The costs were considered prohibitive.
This Office contacted the base social worker, as well as members of the Canadian Forces Housing Association (CFHA), to determine how the situation could be managed in a humanitarian way. Many additional calls to the DND liaison officer and CFHA later, a solution was found.
The liaison officer approached the wing commander. He agreed that the base should fund the purchase and installation of a lift. As a result, incalculable suffering for the young man and his family has been averted and the challenge has been met.
This case highlights the difficulties that some families experience in finding suitable accommodation when posted to a new location. As a consequence of this case, DND undertook to make efforts to foresee exceptional circumstances and address them before they become problems.
The case is another example where a solution to an individual problem has prompted a system-wide response to solve similar problems before they occur.
A retired Regular Force member turned Reservist contacted the Ombudsman’s Office for assistance in resolving an issue with his pay. While on mandatory leave without pay (required of all Class B Reservists), the Reservist had been advised that his contract would be terminated. At that time, he was told he would be paid for the remainder of his contract, approximately two months salary. The member approached the Ombudsman’s Office after delays in obtaining his pay began to cause him financial hardship.
An Ombudsman complaint analyst discovered there were issues related to the member’s enrolment in the Reserves that contributed to the delays in the distribution of the final payment. The complaint analyst helped to resolve the issues related to the irregular enrolment and the member received the salary that was owed to him.
A National Defence employee contacted our office after she was unable to stop transportation deductions being taken from her pay. Even though she had discontinued the service and had submitted a cancellation form to the Department, she advised us that payroll deductions continued for four additional months.
After speaking with her compensation advisor and the manager of Compensation Services, the complainant was told that they had tried on three separate occasions to get a refund from the transportation company without success and that she would have to resolve the problem on her own. Not knowing where else to turn, the complainant came to our office for help.
In order to resolve her problem quickly, an Ombudsman complaint analyst immediately contacted a number of people at the transportation company, including the program coordinator and her manager. Following this intervention, the transportation company provided the complainant with a $400 refund.
During a period of personnel shortages over the summer, members of the Ceremonial Guard were expected to work extra hours and were unable to take their usual vacation time. Though this put a damper on some summer plans, the members agreed to it since they were told that they would be paid for the extra work performed.
The complaint came to the Office when, as time went on, the members did not receive their promised payments, and were also unable to receive any answers through the usual chain of command as to the cause of the delay.
The investigator contacted the Brigade Headquarters to see where the problem lay. The delay, according to Brigade Headquarters, was because overtime payments were not authorized. As a result, the members should have been provided with time off. However, since leave could not be provided after the summer training period, it would have been impossible for time off to be granted.
The chain of command decided that the members deserved some sort of compensation; however, how to calculate the amount of money owed became a new administrative nightmare. To make matters worse, there seemed to be some confusion as to who was supposed to be making these calculations.
Shortly thereafter, the investigator received word that the issue had been resolved, and that the compensation was finally paid.
A CF member who was finalizing his release was told that his last paycheque would be withheld to cover a debt he had with the Canadian Forces Exchange System (CANEX). The member told the release section that he had already made arrangements with CANEX to have the amount owed taken out of his severance entitlement. He also told them that having his last paycheque withheld would cause financial difficulties.
The involvement of the Ombudsman’s Office immediately prompted the release section to review the member’s file and to reverse its decision to withhold his last paycheque.
When a long-serving Reservist decided to retire, an administrative misunderstanding resulted in him being transferred to the Supplementary Reserve List, instead of being released. Members of the Supplementary Reserve List are not considered to be released from the Canadian Armed Forces, which prevents them from drawing a pension. However, they are entitled to collect a pension while they are on the Supplementary Reserve List if one year has passed and they have not received any income from the Canadian Armed Forces during that year. Since the Reservist did not know that he had been transferred to the Supplementary List, he was undoubtedly confused when he did not receive his first pension payment.
The member soon discovered than an error had been made. Unfortunately, despite his numerous attempts to correct this mistake, it took six months for the member to be released. During that time, he was still unable to collect his pension, and was unable to recover those funds upon his ultimate release. It was at this point that he turned to the Ombudsman’s Office for assistance.
Following an extensive review by our Office, and excellent cooperation by the member’s former Commanding Officer and staff at the Director of Military Careers and Administration, it was made clear that the member had intended to release on his preferred date and not be transferred to the Supplementary Reserve List. Fortunately, the member’s pension was restored to his preferred date of release and he received the pension payments owed.
A former civilian employee of National Defence contacted the Ombudsman's Office in 2011 after waiting almost three years for a return of pension contributions. The employee had resigned her position in 2009 and had made a number of attempts to obtain her pension transfer value payment – almost $6,000 – without success.
An Ombudsman complaint analyst made a number of calls on the complainant’s behalf and discovered that her file had been delayed because the complainant had been on extended leave over a number of months while at National Defence. That, combined with administrative delays in the two departments administering the payment, had prevented her from receiving her pension transfer value in a timely fashion.
The complaint analyst received assurances that the complainant’s file would be expedited. Within a month, the complainant received the money she was owed.
A Regular Force member contacted the Ombudsman’s Office for help while waiting for a response to a compassionate posting request. She was on sick leave and waiting to be placed on a permanent medical category until she could be released medically from the Canadian Forces. The complainant’s spouse had recently been posted and the Canadian Forces – concerned with splitting up the family – was in the process of posting the complainant to the same location. While needing to continue her treatment at her current posting, the complainant’s child also required special support for a severe learning disability and moving would have put the child’s academic success at risk.
After contacting the Office, the member received notice that her request to remain at her current location had been denied. During a review of the case, an Ombudsman complaint analyst discovered that critical information was missing and other pertinent information had been misinterpreted. The complaint analyst contacted the member’s superiors and, after the analyst’s intervention and persistence, the Directorate of Military Careers agreed to review the file with the new information, and the member’s compassionate status request was approved. With the posting message cancelled, the member was able to focus on her health and the needs of her family.
A military couple who were living apart wished to reunite and live together as a family with their young child. The complainant requested a contingency cost move to bring his family together again; however, for operational reasons, the member’s request was denied. Although he was told that he would be put on a priority list for the next posting season, the member’s spouse was undergoing diagnostic testing for a medical issue and he was very concerned about her and reluctant to wait another year.
In the meantime, given the uncertainty of his wife’s condition, the member contacted our office hoping we could help reunite him with his ailing spouse and young child. He also submitted a request for a voluntary release from the Canadian Forces.
The couple’s desire to be together took on a new urgency when it was discovered that the wife had cancer. Upon learning of the severity of his spouse’s condition, the complainant requested a compassionate posting and an Ombudsman investigator looked into the possibility of having the member attach posted to his spouse’s location.
With the intervention of the Ombudsman investigator, compassionate leave was granted until a decision on the posting or release could be reached. Ultimately, the member was approved for a regular posting and was reunited with his wife and child.
The complainant was very happy with the help he received from our office, and Ombudsman staff were equally pleased that the Canadian Forces came through for this family in a time of crisis.
A Regular Force member contacted our office after the chain of command denied his request to have his posting date changed. The member indicated that his spring posting date (or even a mid-year move) would have a detrimental impact on his children who had learning disabilities. Instead, he hoped to get a posting date that would coincide with the end of his children’s school year.
Although the member tried to resolve the situation on his own, he was only able to obtain a 30-day extension, which did nothing to alleviate his concerns regarding the well-being of his children. After the member contacted our office, a complaint analyst spoke to his career manager and others in his chain of command to try to reach a mutually agreeable posting date.
In a matter of days, the complaint analyst managed to negotiate a posting date for the member that would not involve a move in the middle of the school year. The office’s intervention in this case enabled the member to fulfill the requirements of his job while, at the same time, giving him peace of mind, knowing that his two children would not have their school year disrupted.
After being informed by his career manager that he would not be moving from his present location, a non-commissioned member mortgaged his house and proceeded with major renovations. A short time later he was told he would be promoted and posted to a Base 300 kilometres away. The member requested a contingency cost move and even said that he would forgo a promotion to stay at his present Base. His request was refused and he went to his new Base unaccompanied. A month later, his spouse hurt her knee, limiting her ability to cope on her own. With the full support of his unit, the member requested a compassionate posting back to his former Base.
The member told our investigator that he had been preparing himself through technical courses for a second career and planned to leave the military the following year, when his 20-year contract ended. He was prepared to request his release right away and to select his previous Base as his intended place of residence on release.
The investigator informed the career manager of the member’s intention to ask for a transfer back to the old Base for the remainder of his service. The investigator negotiated with the chain of command, and thanks to the cooperation of both units, the member was able to return to his previous Base while still being attached to the new one.
After recently being separated from her husband while he was deployed in Afghanistan, this member found out that now she was going to be sent overseas. This was a great source of stress for the member since her husband was posted to a ship, and she was on a base with her two small children. The member didn’t know what to do since she and her husband had no family residing close by that could care for their children while she was gone. In the face of this dilemma, her husband was even considering leaving the CF after more than 15 years of service.
The member decided that before such a drastic move was made, she would contact the Office to see if they could help with the problem. It was a good thing she did.
After talking to an intake officer as well as an investigator, it was discovered that a trade similar to her husband’s was available on her base. Elated, the member’s husband applied for a transfer to this position, and it was approved. The member, grateful for all the work of the Office, can now focus on her overseas mission, knowing the kids are safe at home with their father.
Two members, who were expecting twins, ran into some difficulties when they tried to arrange to be posted closer together.
The expecting mother’s home unit was in western Canada, while the expecting father was posted in Ontario. He applied for a quality of life posting, as well as parental leave so he could be present when his children were born. Since one of the criteria for a quality of life posting is common-law status, both members filled out the necessary applications to obtain this classification. Her CO was quick to approve the common-law status request. His CO, however, was not nearly as forthcoming; the member’s request was held and the parental leave was denied. Worried that he would not be present for the birth of his children, the member contacted the Office.
An investigator contacted the father’s CO in Ontario. The CO indicated he would not recognize common-law status until after the babies were born. The investigator also contacted the career manager of the member to ensure that there was a posting available closer to the soon-to-be mother, and the response was optimistic. Then the issue was discussed with Director Law Human Resources, to establish if indeed it was required for both service members to apply for common-law status. The investigator asked if only one application would be sufficient since it included affidavits from both individuals. The answer was “probably”, but the issue had never been raised before.
In the meantime, the twins were born, and the father’s CO was still hesitant to make a decision. The investigator once again contacted the CO. Finally, faced with all the information the investigator had gathered, he agreed to recognize the common-law status and to process both the quality of life posting and the parental leave. The member left for western Canada shortly thereafter on parental leave for a period of seven months, with a commitment from his career manager that he would be posted with his spouse at the end of the leave period.Due to the investigation, staff at Director Law Human Resources agreed to review whether two applications are necessary for recognition of common-law status.
A private contacted the Office seeking help in speeding up his release from the CF. He had applied for a release in July 2003 and was told that it would take about a year to complete. The private wanted to get out faster for two main reasons: his working environment was creating personal hardship and he was separated from his newly-wed wife.
The investigator learned that the proper release papers hadn’t actually been submitted until the fall of 2003. Moreover, disciplinary actions involving the member had slowed down the release process. The investigator followed up with the private’s unit and with Canadian Forces Recruiting Group in Borden. Thanks to the investigator’s persistence and the Recruiting Group’s cooperation, the member was released from the Canadian Forces at the end of January.
A former reservist said he had voluntarily left the CF in 1997. When he applied three years later to join the Regular Force, he was told that he could not re-enrol because his former reserve unit had not given him a voluntary release but had released him as “unsuitable for further service." And he was told that he owed the Crown more than $3,000 for unreturned clothing and equipment.
When the former reservist called us, he believed that the problem of missing items had been resolved but was concerned that the negative release category was still on his file. Our investigator discovered that the debt to the Crown had never been cleared. The unit could not change the release category until the Judge Advocate General had cleared the debt, so we asked the Assistant Judge Advocate General to review the file. AJAG concluded that all the missing items had in fact been accounted for.
When we went back to the unit about the release category, there was no evidence on file that the former reservist had completed voluntary release paperwork, and he himself had no copies of the documents he thought he had signed. The unit had no basis on which to change the release category. However, with his debt officially cleared, the former reservist can request re-enrolment in the CF, and he is satisfied with this conclusion.
A member of the Regular Force contacted the Office after her attempts at obtaining a speedy release from the Forces were unsuccessful. Her husband was being deployed to Bosnia and she thought it would be best if she stayed at home with their one-year-old daughter while he was away. She submitted a request to be released within 30 days, and did not hear anything for seven weeks. When she spoke with the career manager, she found out that a release had in fact been recommended, so the reason for the delay was unclear.
At the point when she contacted the Office, she was worried that she would not be released in time for her husband’s departure. When the investigator assigned to the case contacted the career manager’s supervisor, it was determined that the 30-day release had indeed been approved.
Apparently, the problem was that the Director Military Careers and Resource Management had not yet granted the release, and this approval was necessary before she would be allowed to leave. The investigator reminded the career manager of the urgency of the situation, since the member’s husband was to be deployed shortly. She was released soon thereafter, just days before her husband was set to depart.
A young lieutenant, who had failed his initial pilot training, was serving out his obligatory service period. With his release date approaching, the lieutenant secured civilian employment to coincide with when he would be released. Shortly before his release date, he was informed that a period of parental leave he had taken while serving was going to be added to the end of his contract. This extension policy would require him to work another year. The lieutenant was very frustrated, since the only reason he had joined the forces was to be a pilot. Since that dream had not become a reality, he had spent the last five years doing menial jobs, all the while looking forward to his new life as a civilian. This unfortunate turn of events put the lieutenant’s new job and plans to move in jeopardy.
The lieutenant contacted the Office requesting help in securing an early release, stating he was even willing to reimburse the parental leave salary. The investigator began a search of the personnel file, and a review of the correspondence relating to the parental leave issue, and found that most personnel within the chain of command were unaware of the extension policy. It was therefore understandable that the lieutenant would not have known about the regulation. The investigator then set up a meeting with the Director Military Careers (D Mil C) to discuss the issue. They maintained their position and asserted that they did not want to set a precedent for other officers in the same situation to also get an early release. However, after discussing the impact that this decision would have on the member and his family, D Mil C agreed to review the situation, provided they received evidence from social and medical experts stating that the situation had a harmful effect on the member’s health and his family. At this request, the lieutenant obtained the necessary reports and forwarded them on to D Mil C.
After a review of the documents, D Mil C personnel recommended that once the parental leave salary was reimbursed, the officer would be released seven months before the new release date.
A member with a learning disability was returned to his unit when he was unable to keep pace with a course that was to quality him for his chosen occupation. Following his return to the unit, he asked our Office for help.
The member’s unit had to assess the severity of his learning disability to determine which occupation would best suit him. The member himself was adamant about staying in the occupation he had chosen and for which he had been recruited.
The investigator put the unit in contact with the Military Gender Integration and Employment Equity section at NDHQ. The section determined that the CF had a duty to accommodate the member, since he was not putting himself or anyone else at risk and he was able to fulfil the duties of the chosen occupation. The member was put on the next course and was allowed to follow the career path he had chosen.
Our Office was able to arrange for all those involved to exchange information, and although the process took considerable time, the lessons learned will speed up the resolution of similar cases.
- Date modified: