20th Anniversary of the Office of the National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces Ombudsman

20th Anniversary of the Office of the National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces Ombudsman

June 18, 2018

Message from the Ombudsman | 15 June 2018

Today marks the 20th Anniversary of when the Office of the National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces Ombudsman opened its doors and its phone lines to serve the Defence Community. While our constituency is quite broad, ranging from current and former members of the Canadian Armed Forces and Defence Civilians to Non-Public Funds employees, Cadets, Canadian Rangers and the families of all, our focus is singular: to ensure fairness for all.

Engagement with our office will not always result in a favourable decision, but I am pleased to report that our team of complaint analysts and investigators resolve 97% of cases as a result of their intervention. Perhaps most importantly, our office prides itself on confidentiality. None of your information will be shared with any individual within the military or civilian chains of command without your express consent.

Since I took office in 2014, this office has conducted 12 systemic investigations and published corresponding reports containing evidence-based recommendations made to the Minister of National Defence. Nearly all of these recommendations have been accepted by the Minister and the military and civilian chains of command and are at various stages of implementation. In order to ensure that these evidence-based recommendations are given their due consideration, our office has begun to publish progress reports on each systemic investigation, illustrating to the Defence Community and Canadians their status of implementation. These progress reports are updated every six months. The implementation of these recommendations, if seen through, will have a lasting positive impact on our constituents.

In order to fulfill this office’s mandate of being a direct source of information, referral, and education, we are continuing to evolve our lines of business, providing valuable tools and timely information to the Defence Community. In 2017, our office stood up its Education and Collaboration directorate in order to better inform our constituents. In addition to providing content through our web and social media platforms, this team also worked diligently on the creation and the launch of the Military Benefits Browser. This Browser provides easily accessible information related to benefits and services for military members who are ill, injured, or transitioning out of the Canadian Armed Forces, their families, as well as families of the deceased in one convenient location. This one-stop access to individualized information about benefits, services, and programs was developed in partnership with the Canadian Armed Forces.

Our office will continue to engage all members of the Defence Community. Our employees conducted over 70 outreach initiatives last year at bases, wings, cadet camps and various social events across the country in order to inform our constituents of the services that we provide and that we are always ready to help. We are constantly exploring new and innovative ways of engaging you and your families. You can follow our office on our website at www.ombudsman.forces.gc.ca or on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts to receive regular updates on our activities.

I would like to thank our office of 65 employees, and all those who have served in the office in different capacities over the past 20 years. Thank you for your commitment to fairness on behalf of our constituents.

Over the past four years I have been proud to serve as your Ombudsman. I know I can speak for each of my predecessors that serving the Defence Community is an incredibly humbling yet gratifying experience. To serve those who sacrifice so much for our country is not only our responsibility, but a privilege. Together we make a difference.

Gary Walbourne

Forum of Canadian Ombudsman Forum of Canadian Ombudsman