Cadets Report - Supporting our Youth

Early in my mandate, I sought pre-mandate approval from the Minister of National Defence to launch an investigation into the fatal grenade incident at CFB Valcartier, in which six cadets died and dozens wounded. In July 2015, I released my report that was widely publicized. In this report I focused on the lack of assistance offered to the injured, to their families and to the families of the six boys who died.

After completing this investigation, I asked my team three fundamental questions: If a similar incident occurred in over 40 years later, what has changed in policy and regulations to ensure a safe and secure environment for these individuals? Have we made the system of compensation less complex should a tragedy strike while they are wearing their cadet uniforms? And, is the system fair and equitable?

These questions could not be answered clearly or with confidence.

As such, in December 2015, my office launched a systemic review of the Canadian Cadet Program with a view to provide the Canadian Armed Forces with clear recommendations to help ensure that the administrative and procedural unfairness that occurred after the incident in 1974 is never repeated.

I believe that my recommendations are clear, concise, and implementable. They will go a long way in restoring fairness for this vulnerable group. Our sons and daughters deserve that much.

In his response, the Minister of National Defence indicated that the Canadian Armed Forces will work with the Cadet League to conduct a review the “process of providing support to cadets who suffer illness or injury as a result of approved cadet activities” and that it will “include an analysis of differences between the support provided to full and part-time reservists and the support provided to cadets”.

Fortunately, I am pleased to indicate that my office worked very closely with the Cadet League in developing the report and that the analysis they seek to undertake has already been completed by this office. I will be sharing this analysis with the Minister and to the public in the very near future.

Gary Walbourne
Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces Ombudsman

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