General Jonathan Vance, the Chief of the Defence Staff today released the third Progress Report on eliminating sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). The report covers the period from July 2016 through March 2017.
Highlights of the report include:
• The CAF continues to take definitive action to address and eliminate sexual misconduct and ensure victims are provided the care and support they need as well as taking decisive and visible action with perpetrators.
• Over the nine months of this reporting period, the CAF has taken significant action to improve victim support; initiate prevention programs; update policies; enhance subject matter expertise of those who provide support and assistance to victims.
• The CAF also embedded Operation HONOUR concepts across all levels of education and training; held leaders to account for their response and actions; took decisive action to deter perpetrators; and engaged and empowered all members of the CAF to take action to address and eliminate sexual violence and harassment.
• Although very sobering, the results of the Statistics Canada Survey on Sexual Misconduct in the CAF provided the first data specific to sexual misconduct and this provided an opportunity to better understand the scope of the issue and specific areas to address and better target our efforts to eliminate harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour in the CAF.
• However, there are encouraging indications across the CAF that Operation HONOUR is having a positive impact on CAF members’ awareness of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour and the impact this has on individuals and the institution. CAF members are acquiring a greater understanding of the critical role of bystanders, including how to respond to incidents and support victims. This is leading to increased reporting as well as confidence in the chain of command, military police and military justice.
• Victims are coming forward to report knowing that they will be provided the care and support they need. Recruits are being informed of the standard of conduct they will be expected uphold and the consequences of failing to do so before they join the CAF. Leaders are being held to account and action is being taken to remove members from command, leadership, supervisory or instructor positions.
• Victim Support Services are being expanded to assist CAF members who have been affected by harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour to mitigate the impacts by providing more options for reporting; guiding and supporting them during reporting, investigative process and judicial proceedings as well as providing a network for healing and support with peers.
• The CF Provost Martial implemented an unfounded case review of all files to ensure they were properly concluded. A preliminary examination identified 166 unfounded CF MP cases between 2010 and 2016. Between 2010 and 2015, the CF MP unfounded rate was 28.89%. In the 2015/16 period the unfounded rate decreased to 14.57% and has continued to decrease in the past year to 7.29% unfounded rate for sexual misconduct overall and 6.8% for sexual assault.
• The CF Provost Martial is also implementing an external case review model, commonly known as “the Philadelphia model” that will provide for independent, external case review of unfounded sexual assault cases that would include stakeholders reviewing complete case files. This will ensure that all cases are handled appropriately, and that victims feel confident in reporting offences to military police.
• Education and Training products and programs are helping CAF members recognize sexual misconduct and harassment when they see it and know how to respond and support victims.
• Bystander training is being delivered across the CAF, which is reinforcing to our members that they have a duty to act if they see or have information about inappropriate behaviour. Over 40% of HISB incidents are now reported by a third-party.
• The CAF is taking definitive and visible action with perpetrators. Personnel who choose to perpetrate acts of inappropriate sexual behaviour or who fail to take action for those under their supervision or command are being relieved of command, supervision or instructor duties.
• Last year, the CDS ordered that any member of the CAF found guilty of sexual misconduct would be given a notice of intent to release from the CAF. Since that order took effect on the first of January, 77 notices of intent to release have been issued, many dealing with old cases. These notices are now moving through due process.
• Recruiting efforts have been successful in increasing the number of women in the CAF. Not only have the percentage of recruits who are women significantly increased from 13% to 17% between 2015/16 and 2016/17, but the overall percentage of women in the CAF has increased by 0.3%, which is the first positive growth in over a decade. It is anticipated this will only improve as the strategies and initiatives developed last year andnew advertising and programs roll out.
“I’m encouraged by some of the steps being taken to eliminate inappropriate sexual behaviour in the Canadian Armed Forces. We are taking career action against perpetrators, implementing more robust training programs, reviewing past unfounded sexual assault complaints and most importantly, are providing better support to victims. We still have more work to do, and we will continue to promote cultural change so we can rid our institution of this abhorrent behaviour.”
General Jonathan H. Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff
“This progress report shows there are positive steps being taken to change our culture to one of respect and dignity for all. I am especially encouraged that members of the Canadian Armed Forces are beginning to report the harmful sexual behaviour they witness in greater numbers. We’re a team and we all have a duty to look out for each other. Supporting our people is key to this Operation’s success.”
Chief Warrant Officer Kevin West, Canadian Forces Chief Warrant Officer