The Office of the Ombudsman was created in 1998 to increase openness and transparency in the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence, and to ensure the fair treatment of concerns raised by Canadian Armed Forces members, departmental employees and their families.
Since it was established, the Office has completed work on more than 22,000 files for members of the Defence community looking for assistance.
The Office acts as a direct source of information, referral and education. It helps members of the Defence community navigate a large and complex organization in order to access existing channels of assistance or redress when they have a complaint or concern.
The Office is also responsible for reviewing and investigating concerns and complaints from current and former Canadian Armed Forces members, departmental employees and their immediate family members who believe that they have been treated improperly or unfairly by the Department of National Defence or the Canadian Armed Forces.
Throughout 2013-2014, the Office received 1,436 new cases from Canadian Armed Forces members, civilian employees, military family members and other constituents. The top seven categories of new cases were related to: benefits, release from military service, medical issues, military postings, harassment, redress of grievance, and recruiting.
Ombudsman investigators always attempt to resolve complaints informally and at the lowest possible level. However, complaints can also be the subject of thorough investigations, leading to a formal report with findings and recommendations that are made public.
Members of the Defence community who bring a concern or complaint to the Ombudsman’s Office can do so without fear of reprisal. In addition, all information obtained by the Office during the handling of cases is treated as confidential.
More broadly, the Ombudsman has a mandate to investigate and make recommendations to improve the overall well-being and quality of life of the members of the Defence community. Previous investigations from the Office have led to substantial and long-lasting improvements in the Canadian Forces, including important changes in the areas of post-traumatic stress disorder and operational stress injuries and improvements in the treatment received by the families of military members who are killed in the course of their duties.
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