Ombudsman Releases 2010-2011 Annual Report, Making a Difference


Ottawa, Ontario, August 12, 2011 - The Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces, Mr. Pierre Daigle, today released his 2010-2011 annual report, entitled Making A Difference.

In his annual report, the Ombudsman provided an overview of the 1,688 cases handled by the office in 2010-2011. "We continued to focus our efforts over the past year on our raison d'être as an office: helping the men and women of the Canadian Forces, their families, civilian employees of National Defence and our other constituents," stated Mr. Daigle. He added, “I am proud that our dedicated staff was able to help achieve positive outcomes for countless members of the Defence community who are suffering with the consequences of an unfair decision, action or policy.”  

Throughout 2010-2011, the Ombudsman's office also continued to monitor and report on a number of broader issues and concerns in Canada's Defence community.

In May 2010, the Ombudsman released the findings of an investigation into the Canadian Forces grievance process. The special report, entitled Making it Right for those Who Serve, highlighted deficiencies in the grievance process that are causing further hardship for Canadian Forces members who have already been wronged. Specifically, the office determined that the Chief of the Defence Staff, who is the final decision-maker in the grievance process, does not have the authority to provide financial compensation to fully resolve an unfairness. As a result of the investigation, the Ombudsman recommended that the Chief of the Defence Staff be able to grant financial compensation for the simple reason that, in certain circumstances, fairness cannot be achieved by any other means.

The office's most visible intervention was related to the care and treatment of families who have lost a military loved one while serving their country. In a series of exchanges with the Minister of National Defence, the Ombudsman informed him that the office continued to receive complaints from military families who were not getting the information, support or assistance they needed after their loved one died as a result of military service.

In order to 'humanize' these problems for the Minister, Mr. Daigle wrote to him in April 2010, detailing the troubling experiences of six military families after the death of their Canadian Forces loved one. After additional exchanges with the Minister, and further investigative work by the office, the Ombudsman published all of the correspondence on this issue in December 2010 and held a press conference in order to highlight the very real suffering of these military families.

In releasing his correspondence to the Minister of National Defence, the Ombudsman stated, “I found it inconceivable that the Canadian Forces continued to ignore important recommendations aimed at helping military families after the death of a Canadian Forces loved one.” He added,  “It was even more disappointing when I recognized that the changes needed to ensure that the military families were treated with dignity and compassion would cost the Canadian Forces nothing.” 

In 2010-2011, the Ombudsman also announced that the office would be launching a third follow-up investigation into the issue of post-traumatic stress disorder and other operational stress injuries in the Canadian Forces. While recognizing that progress has been made by the Canadian Forces to prevent, identify and treat military personnel suffering from mental health injuries, the large number of current military sufferers - and even larger number of anticipated sufferers - has led the Ombudsman to the conclusion that this issue demands additional review and evaluation by the office.

In addition to addressing individual complaints and broader concerns in the Defence community, the office also focused its efforts on improving the overall quality and timeliness of services to its constituents. Over the past fiscal year, the Ombudsman and the Director General of Operations finalized the longer term reorganization of the Operations branch, bringing greater clarity and efficiency to the office's core business of education, referral, informal resolution and investigation. The Ombudsman also focused and streamlined the office's corporate support functions in order to increase efficiency wherever possible and improving the quality of support available to the Operations branch. With these changes, the office will be better positioned to provide high quality service and assistance to the Defence community.

In his annual report to the Minister of National Defence, the Ombudsman also highlighted difficulties the office has faced in fulfilling its mandate as effectively as it needed to given significant administrative hurdles that it has been forced to overcome by National Defence and the Canadian Forces. The Ombudsman's mandate from the Minister of National Defence states clearly that "The Ombudsman shall be independent from the management and chain of command of the DND and CF and shall report directly to and be accountable to the Minister." Unfortunately, the actions of some offices in National Defence have impaired this independence. Most notably, it took more than two full years for the Ombudsman to receive his formal financial delegations, noticeably impacting his authority to initiate and approve the activities and operations of the office. The Ombudsman also noted that support from National Defence and the Canadian Forces had been questionable at times on the finance and administrative fronts.

Given these challenges to the office's independence and operations over the past two years, and the impact they have had on its ability to provide quality service to our constituents, the Ombudsman announced that he intended to initiate, with the Minister of National Defence, the process to bring the Office of the Ombudsman under legislation.

Mr. Daigle stated,  “I now firmly believe the only way we will be able to fulfill our duties properly and effectively is to have a legislated mandate, which includes the financial and administrative authority to conduct our operations fully independent of National Defence and the Canadian Forces.”  

More information on the office's investigations and special reports, including the 2010-2011 annual report, is available on the Ombudsman's website at:

For additional information, please contact:
Michelle Laliberté
Communications Advisor
Office of the Ombudsman
Tel: (613) 995-8643

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