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DND Enhances Support for Sexual Misconduct Survivors in the CAF

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The Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) published a report regarding survivor supports for those who have experienced sexual misconduct. This Final Report describes the work of the Survivor Support Consultation Group (SSCG), which brought together three Class Member Representatives of the DND-CAF Sexual Misconduct Class Action and three members of the Defence Team, who together undertook a dedicated engagement process to improve survivor supports within DND/CAF.

This report outlines the SSCG’s key conclusions from an extensive consultation process, while also setting out a total of 45 recommendations. This report will be essential in guiding efforts to create enduring transformational change. DND/CAF will move to review, consider, and where appropriate, accept and implement the recommendations as quickly and effectively as possible. In response to the Final Report, the Deputy Minister of National Defence, Jody Thomas, and the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Wayne Eyre, provided a Departmental Response.

The Final Report is unequivocal in articulating that the current survivor support systems need to be improved in order to meet the needs of survivors of sexual misconduct. The report:

• Provides an overview of the broader context of work, reviews, and recommendations aimed at enhancing support for survivors of sexual misconduct in the CAF;

• Provides an analysis of what was observed about support gaps and needs;

• Considers the experiences of diverse groups of survivors, including those with distinct needs; and

• Identifies principles, key themes, goals, and recommendations intended to serve as the foundation for further engagement in developing a comprehensive Survivor Support Strategy and implementation plan.

The Final Report echoes many of the findings of other reviews, and affirms the importance of culture change – that culture change and survivor support are inextricably linked, and that work on one cannot proceed without work on the other. They are mutually reinforcing areas.

The Final Report is a clear example on how to engage and involve survivors of sexual misconduct in the development, implementation, and ongoing monitoring of all policies, programs, projects, laws, and initiatives relating not only to sexual misconduct but also broader culture change. Ongoing engagement mechanisms will be vital to building trust with the survivor community, and to ensuring that the DND/CAF continuously centers its responses on the needs and lived experiences of diverse survivors.

DND/CAF remains fully committed to making the necessary changes to continue its progress to advance meaningful actions towards a healthy, respectful and inclusive workplace free from sexual misconduct.

“Many survivors do not feel confident coming forward and we need to ensure that in doing so, they are treated with dignity and respect. The Government of Canada is taking steps to address and prevent sexual misconduct in the military workplace and the recommendations contained in the Survivor Support Consultation Group’s report will ensure that our support services are informed by survivors and their families. We thank the Survivor Support Consultation Group for its determination in providing a voice for those affected. The Government of Canada will continue to work toward changing the culture within the Defence Team.” – The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence, on behalf of the Government of Canada

“We know there is significant work ahead of us, as we take steps to ensure the Canadian Armed Forces and Department of National Defence become a workplace in which all of our people feel safe, empowered and inspired each and every day. The recommendations set out in this report are the product of extensive consultations with experts and those with lived experiences of sexual misconduct. They will help inform our culture change efforts as we work to firmly embrace a survivor-centered and trauma-informed approach. – General Wayne Eyre, Chief of the Defence Staff

“Sexual misconduct is truly unacceptable in the Defence Team workplace. Sexual misconduct impacts the health and well-being of those affected, it affects those close to them, and can create a negative work environment for all. This is compounded when the right support services are not in place. Our response to these recommendations will be vital to rebuilding trust with the survivor community, and focusing on the needs and lived experiences of affected persons.” – Jody Thomas, Deputy Minister of National Defence



• As part of the Final Settlement Agreement for the CAF-DND Sexual Misconduct Class Action, Schedule N mandates a report on Survivor Support Consultations. The objective of the consultations is to obtain input from Class Member Representatives regarding DND/CAF efforts towards enhancing its resources and support programs for CAF victims/survivors of sexual misconduct.

• The objective was to ensure that those who are affected by sexual misconduct could, through their class representatives, directly influence the institution’s policies, programs, and services to respond to sexual misconduct and to support survivors.

• The Final Report identified five key themes around which the proposed goals and recommendations were organized: engagement, partnerships, and research; support, especially to address service gaps; training; communication and information; and accountability.

• On December 13, 2021, current and former members of the Defence Team affected by sexual assault, sexual harassment or discrimination based on sex, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation, received an apology from the institutions that failed to provide them with a safe and inclusive workplace culture free from these unacceptable behaviours.

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