Mothers Of Canadian Soldiers
Mothers Of Canadian Soldiers

Office of the Ombudsman

Annual Report 2012-2013

 

Fifteen years ago, the Office of the Ombudsman was founded in order to increase openness and transparency in the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence, and to ensure the fair treatment of concerns raised by Canadian Forces members, departmental employees and their families. I am pleased to release our 2012-2013 annual report that highlights a year of positive change.
 

In addition to addressing over 1500 individual complaints this year, our office also released a number of broader investigations. In September 2012, we released the findings of our third follow-up evaluation of the Canadian Forces’ ability to respond to the challenge of post-traumatic stress disorder and other operational stress injuries. Fortitude Under Fatigue: Assessing the Delivery of Care for Operational Stress Injuries that Canadian Forces Members Need and Deserve concluded that the Canadian Forces had made considerable progress in implementing the office’s previous recommendations from 2008 and addressed shortcomings in its identification, prevention and treatment of operational mental health injuries. 
 

However, despite progress in a number of areas – and a funding increase of $11.4 million announced by the Minister of National Defence – we found that there is a persistent shortage of qualified mental health care personnel. This shortage continues to be the largest impediment to the delivery of inclusive, high-quality care and treatment to Canadian Forces members suffering from mental health injuries. 
 

In November 2012, we released our first follow-up investigation into the treatment of injured Reservists. In Reserved Care: A Follow Up into the Treatment of Injured Reservists, we found that, while a number of issues had been addressed, eight of the 12 recommendations from the 2008 report had not been fully implemented. Of particular note, the Accidental Dismemberment Insurance Plan, maintained an unfair disparity as some Reservists were still not entitled to the same compensation as their counterparts for exactly the same dismemberment.
 

We were pleased to learn that following the release of our report, the Minister of National Defence announced amendments to the Accidental Dismemberment Insurance Plan for all Primary Reservists. Canadian Forces personnel will now be compensated in the same way for the same injury, regardless of their type of service.
 

Finally, 2012-2013 saw the implementation of one of our office’s longest standing recommendations. In 2003, the office conducted an investigation into the Service Income Security Insurance Plan Long Term Disability (SISIP LTD) after receiving complaints related to the plan and benefits payable to Canadian Forces members. Many of the complaints concerned the deduction of Pension Act disability pensions from monthly SISIP LTD benefits. At that time, the policy was identified as grossly unfair and the office urged the Minister of National Defence to take steps to put an end to the deduction and to provide retroactive compensation.
 

In the decade that followed, the office continued to call on successive Ministers of National Defence to reimburse former Canadian Forces members – often the most disadvantaged of Canada’s veterans – who had their SISIP long term disability benefits reduced.
 

In the spring of 2013, we gratefully acknowledged the Government of Canada’s announcement that it would accept a Federal Court decision regarding the SISIP LTD and would reimburse those Canadian Forces members who had been disadvantaged by the policy.
 

Looking ahead, one of the main priorities for our office in the coming fiscal year is the completion of our systemic review of modern military families. Since the office was established in 1998, more than 1,000 military families have come forward with complaints and concerns (more than 100 over the past 12 months) regarding a variety of issues. At the same time, through our extensive outreach efforts, we have also encountered and documented dozens of complaints from military families across the country.
 

Canada’s military families are assets to the nation that play a vital role in maintaining the operational effectiveness of the Canadian Forces. These families also sacrifice a great deal for their Canadian Forces loved ones and the country itself. The review will examine the challenges that are either unique to military families or more prevalent for them. It will also assess how well military families are supported by the Canadian Forces in facing these challenges.
 

For more information on our systemic review of modern military families and the work carried out by the office throughout 2013-2013 you can view the full annual report at the following link: 2012-2013 Annual Report.
 

 

Pierre Daigle
Ombudsman

Delores Woodley
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