The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence issued the following statement today:
“Since my first day as Minister of National Defence, I have been clear that my top priority is to implement meaningful culture change in the Department of National Defence (DND) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), so that this institution can continue to keep Canadians safe.
“One year ago, I joined former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Louise Arbour, Chief of the Defence Staff, General Eyre, and Deputy Minister Matthews to release the final report of Madame Arbour’s Independent External Comprehensive Review (IECR) of DND and CAF.
“After months of work, hundreds of interviews, and reviews of thousands of documents, Madame Arbour provided us with 48 recommendations to build a more inclusive department and military, where all members feel protected, respected, and empowered to serve.
“Pursuant to recommendation 47 of the IECR, in December 2022, I presented a Report to Parliament on Culture Change Reforms, confirming that we reject none of the recommendations and that we will act in response to all of them.
“Progress is necessary and achievable – and we are making headway on implementing these recommendations.
“Work is ongoing to address IECR recommendation 5. Since Madame Arbour’s interim recommendation to transfer the prosecution and investigation of Criminal Code sexual offences from the military justice system to the civilian justice system was accepted, 100% of Criminal Code sexual offence charges are now being laid in the civilian justice system.
“No new sexual Criminal Code offence charges are being adjudicated in the military justice system. Military Police, under the direction of the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal, also continue to work to refer applicable cases to civilian policing partners for investigation.
“At the same time, through a Federal-Provincial-Territorial ad hoc Deputy Minister’s Committee and ongoing bilateral engagement with provinces and territories, we are charting a permanent path forward on complex multi-jurisdictional elements of the IECR final recommendation 5.
“In response to IECR recommendations 12-14, we renamed the Sexual Misconduct Support and Resource Centre (SMSRC) to better reflect its mandate; expanded its reach and services; and recently launched the first phase of the SMSRC’s Independent Legal Assistance program that will facilitate access to legal assistance for people who have experienced sexual misconduct.
“As we continue to act in response to IECR recommendation 20 and 22, we have also implemented screening measures during the pre- and post-recruitment phases, such as new and refined screening and interview questions, tattoo screening, and use of enrollment release processes.
“We are also working to reform the Canadian Military Colleges. In response to IECR recommendation 29, members of the Canadian Military College Review Board will be announced and begin their work shortly.
“Starting in 2023, we have added topics including the RMC climate and environment, harassment, discrimination, bullying, and sexual misconduct to the colleges’ exit survey. We will use the findings of the annual survey to determine what needs to change, and to measure progress.
“Building an inclusive culture is dependent on attracting and retaining people with the character, expertise, and diversity that Canadians want to see in their military.
“That is why, in October 2022, we directed that the Canadian Forces Recruiting Group, Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School, and Royal Military Colleges be immediately staffed to 100% of their approved strengths.
“Work is ongoing to implement IECR recommendation 36 and establish a system of progressive targets for women at each rank. We have also introduced changes to promotion and selection processes, beginning with those for General and Flag Officers.
“As we deliver meaningful reforms, we are committed to the highest standards of openness and accountability. Last October, I appointed Jocelyne Therrien as External Monitor, in response to recommendation 48, whose first report on our progress was recently released. We will also continue to regularly update stakeholders, journalists, and Canadians about our reforms.
“Over the past year, we have made progress – and we are continuing to work hard on this mission every day. Change does not happen overnight, and it will not continue without effort.
“But let me be clear: my top priority remains to build an institution where all members feel protected, respected, and empowered to serve, so that together, we can continue to deliver results for Canada and our allies.”