ARCHIVED - Ombudsman Releases Special Report Assessing the Well-being of Canada’s Military Families

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Ottawa, November 5, 2013 – The Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces, Mr. Pierre Daigle, today released a special report, entitled On the Homefront: Assessing the Well-being of Canada’s Military Families in the New Millennium.

The report notes that three characteristics, taken together, have a direct and unique impact on the life of military families. These characteristics are mobility, separation and risk.

The requirement for military families to pick up and move on a recurring basis, with little to no input on when, where and for how long, has a highly disruptive influence on family life. The report noted that many commanders and service providers indicated that the frequency of moves – three times more often than civilian families – is the single most unsettling feature of the Canadian Forces lifestyle.

Operational deployments, during which families spend almost no time together, compound the issue. Relationships within the family unit suffer and the consequences for children are particularly troubling. The report notes the negative effect that the deployment of one or both parents can have on the health, behaviour and academic performance of Canadian Forces children.

 “Although military families are proud of their contribution to the Canadian Forces mission, they are understandably concerned about the long-term consequences for their children,” stated Mr. Daigle.

The Ombudsman’s report also documented difficulties that military families experience in accessing and maintaining health care. Canadian Forces families are wholly dependent on provincial health care systems, like any other Canadian. The difference however, is that as a result of frequent relocations, military families often bounce from one provincial list to the next, rarely making it to the top. CF Families are four times less likely to have a family physician compared to civilian families. Extended periods without preventative and regular health care were indentified as a significant preoccupation for many military families.

Another flagged concern was that frequent relocations make it difficult, if not impossible, for the spouses of Canadian Forces members to find and sustain reasonable, gainful and continuous employment. Many spouses experience periods of unemployment or underemployment; most reported frustration at having to make most, if not all, of the professional compromises. The spousal employment challenge was repeatedly identified as a major consideration for serving members leaving the Canadian Forces.

On the Homefront identified 6 key findings and makes 18 recommendations on how the Department and Canadian Forces can address the identified concerns.

A complete list of the findings and recommendations, and additional information on the Ombudsman’s report, can be found on the office’s website at:

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For additional information, please contact:

Michelle Laliberté
Senior Communications Advisor
Office of the National Defence and Canadian Forces Ombudsman
Tel.: (613) 995-8643

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