DAOD 5516-3, Religious or Spiritual Accommodation

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. General Principles
  3. Process
  4. Direction for Approval Authorities
  5. Consequences
  6. References

1. Introduction

Date of Issue: 2016-07-15

Application: This DAOD is an order that applies to officers and non-commissioned members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF members).

Supersession:

  • CANFORGEN 162/12, Amendment – Religious Accommodation Policy for the CF
  • Interim Policy – Religious Accommodation, 1745-2-10 (ADM(Per)) 12 January 1998

Approval Authority: Chief of Military Personnel (CMP)

Enquiries: Director Human Rights and Diversity (DHRD)

2. General Principles

Context

2.1 Canada is a country of great diversity with many people who belong to different religions and have unique spiritual beliefs. CAF members and applicants represent a cross section of Canadian society. The faithful practice of a religion or the adherence to a spiritual belief by a CAF member or an applicant, as indicated by practices such as wearing particular articles of clothing or styles of dress, keeping or wearing hair in a specific manner, following certain diets, praying, fasting, avoiding certain language or behaviour, or observing certain religious holidays, may require an accommodation.

Note 1 For the purposes of this DAOD, “applicant” refers to a person seeking to enrol in the CAF who has accepted a conditional offer of enrolment from an authorized Canadian Forces recruiting centre (CFRC) staff member.

Note 2 Although applicants are not subject to DAODs and the provisions in this DAOD do not constitute directives or orders that apply to applicants, this DAOD sets out the administrative process for dealing with a request for an accommodation on religious or spiritual grounds that may be made by an applicant during the recruiting and enrolment process.

Duty to Accommodate

2.2 The CAF must consider a request for an accommodation based on a religious or spiritual belief as long as it is a sincerely held belief of the CAF member or applicant and can be reasonably connected to religious faith or spirituality.

2.3 The CAF is required to approve a request for an accommodation based on a sincerely held religious or spiritual belief unless the accommodation or any accommodation other than that which was requested would:

  • a.    cause undue hardship;
  • b.    be against the law; or
  • c.    cause the CAF member or applicant to be relieved from having to meet one or more of
           the minimum operational standards related to the principle of universality of service set out in DAOD
           5023-1, Minimum Operational Standards Relating to Universality of Service.

2.4 The duty to accommodate is the obligation of the CAF, by the adoption of measures, to eliminate disadvantages to CAF members and applicants resulting from a rule, policy, practice or barrier that has or may have an adverse impact on individuals or designated groups protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Human Rights Act.

2.5 Undue hardship refers to the limit to which the CAF is expected to accommodate a CAF member or an applicant in a given situation, taking into consideration the following factors:

  • a.    the availability of alternatives to accommodate the CAF member or applicant;
  • b.    the realistic ability of the CAF to meet the costs associated with an accommodation; and
  • c.    the health and safety of the public, Department of National Defence (DND) employees, CAF
           members and applicants.


Adjustments Resulting from an Accommodation

2.6 An accommodation based on religious or spiritual grounds may require making some specific adjustment or alteration to, for example, policies, standard operating procedures or routine practices, in order that a CAF member can continue to serve or an applicant can enrol in the CAF while adhering to their religious or spiritual belief.

Request by a CAF Member or an Applicant

2.7 A CAF member or an applicant may request an accommodation based on religious or spiritual grounds with respect to, but not limited to:

  • a.    dietary practices;
  • b.    dress and appearance;
  • c.    medical requirements; and
  • d.    religious or spiritual services and observances.

2.8 A CAF member or an applicant who requests an accommodation must:

  • a.    identify and communicate clearly to their chain of command, in a timely manner, their service-related
           religious or spiritual accommodation needs; and
  • b.    work constructively and cooperatively with authorities in their chain of command in devising
           reasonable and workable solutions to their religious or spiritual accommodation needs.

Note See section 3 for details concerning the procedures for processing a request for an accommodation.

Accommodation at a New Unit

2.9 When a CAF member who is being accommodated for a religious or spiritual belief at the unit level is posted, attach posted or otherwise absent from their home unit and is employed at a different unit, or in the case of an applicant who was accommodated at a CFRC and, on enrolment, is posted to a unit, the CAF member must submit a new request for an accommodation based on religious or spiritual grounds through the chain of command at the new unit.

2.10 A CAF member cannot assume that an accommodation previously approved remains in effect on arrival at a new unit because the:

  • a.    CAF member is required to make a new request for an accommodation under paragraph 2.9; and
  • b.    commanding officer (CO) must consider the new request for an accommodation on its own merits,
            taking into account the mission and resources of the unit.

Revocation or Suspension of an Accommodation

2.11 An accommodation that has been approved may be revoked or suspended by the approval authority if circumstances change, including the extent to which the accommodation may constitute an undue hardship (see paragraph 2.5).

Note – For the purposes of this DAOD, “approval authority” refers to:

  • a.    the officer who considered the request and approved the accommodation;
  • b.    an officer who replaces the officer who approved the accommodation; or
  • c.    any superior officer in the chain of command of either the officer who approved the accommodation
           or the officer who replaced the officer who approved the accommodation.

3. Process

Request for Religious or Spiritual Accommodation

3.1 The process for making a request for an accommodation based on religious or spiritual grounds, and its consideration by the chain of command, is as follows:

  • a.    the CAF member or applicant must complete and sign Part 1 of form DND 2983-E, Request for
           Religious or Spiritual Accommodation
    , identifying clearly and in as much detail as is required, the
           exact nature of the religious or spiritual belief which requires an accommodation, and submit the form
           to:
  •        i.      in the case of a CAF member, their CO through their chain of command, or
  •        ii.     in the case of an applicant, a designated recruiting authority, i.e. the CO of a CFRC;

Note Form DND 2983-E can be found on the DHRD intranet site.

  • b.    depending on the nature of the request, the CO may be the appropriate approval authority (see
            paragraph 3.2 of this DAOD). If the CO is not the approval authority, the CO must forward the request
            to the appropriate approval authority;
  • c.    the approval authority may seek clarification or amplification from the CAF member or applicant, or
           from other sources, as required; and
  • d.    the approval authority approves or denies the accommodation request (see the determining factors
           and considerations in paragraph 4.1).

Approval Authorities

3.2 The following table sets out the approval authorities for a request for an accommodation based on religious or spiritual grounds:

 

A ...may approve or deny a request for an accommodation as it applies to …
  • level one (L1) advisor;
  • formation, base, wing or station commander; and
  • CO
  • food and food service;
  • leave;
  • use of space at a defence establishment; or
  • any other accommodation within their authority not otherwise covered in this table.

Note 1 An L1 advisor is a senior official, either civilian or military, who has direct accountability to the Deputy Minister or the Chief of the Defence Staff. The list of L1 advisors is set out in the Position Titles section in A-FN-100-002/AG-006, Delegation of Authorities for Financial Administration for the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Forces (CF).

Note 2 A CO may seek the advice of the base or wing chaplain regarding the provision of space for prayer or worship.

Action by the Approval Authority When a Request is Approved or Denied

3.3 On considering a request for an accommodation based on religious or spiritual grounds, having referred to the determining factors and considerations in paragraph 4.1, an approval authority may decide to:

  • a.    approve the accommodation requested;
  • b.    approve an accommodation other than that which was requested; or
  • c.    deny the request.

3.4 When an approval authority makes a decision in respect of a request for an accommodation, the approval authority must take the following actions:

  • a.    complete either the approval or denial section and sign Part 2 of form DND 2983-E;
  • b.    inform the CAF member or applicant of the decision and any action required as a result of the
           decision, including any terms and conditions of an approval set out in Part 2 of form DND 2983-E;
  • c.    ensure the CAF member or applicant signs Part 3 of form DND 2983-E acknowledging the decision;
  • d.    provide a copy of the form DND 2983-E to the CAF member or applicant; and
  • e.    send copies of the form DND 2983-E and any attached documentation to the appropriate unit
           records section and immediate headquarters, with a copy to DHRD for statistical and tracking
           purposes.

3.5 When informing a CAF member or an applicant that their request has been denied or an alternative accommodation has been approved, the reasons do not need to be lengthy but should be clearly and sufficiently stated in order for the CAF member or applicant to understand the reasons for the denial or change in accommodation, as applicable. For example:

  • a.    The accommodation requested could not be approved on the basis of a particular risk to the safety of
            the team where that risk could not be mitigated.
  • b.    An alternative accommodation is approved because the CAF could not realistically meet the costs
           associated with the requested accommodation.

4. Direction for Approval Authorities

Making a Decision on a Request

4.1 The following table sets out determining factors and considerations to assist approval authorities in making a decision and taking appropriate action on receiving a request for an accommodation based on religious or spiritual grounds:

 

StepDetermining FactorsConsiderationsDecision and Action
1 Is the accommodation requested by the CAF member or applicant religious or spiritual in nature?
  • Religion typically involves a particular and comprehensive system of faith and acts, rites or ceremonies of worship.
  • Religion may involve the belief in a divine, superhuman or controlling power.
  • Spirituality is:
     – about freely and deeply held
        personal convictions or beliefs
        connected to the spiritual faith of a
        person; and
     – integrally linked to the
        self-definition and spiritual
        fulfillment of that person.
  • Religion or spirituality may be demonstrated by practices which allow a person to foster a connection with a divine, superhuman or controlling power, or with the subject or object of that religion or spiritual faith.
  • If the answer to Step 1 is “Yes”, go to Step 2.
  • If the answer to Step 1 is “No”, deny the request (see paragraph 3.4 for action to be taken).
 2

 Does the CAF member or applicant demonstrate a religious or spiritual belief or practice which calls for a particular type of conduct that:

  • is obligatory or customary to the religion or spirituality; or
  • helps connect the person to the subject or object of their religious or spiritual belief?
  •  The belief or practice must:
      –  be something that the person
          considers to be of central
          importance to the religion or
          spiritual faith; or
      –  bring about a personal 
          connection with a divine,
          superhuman or controlling power,
          or with the subject or object of
          the spiritual faith of the individual.
  • The belief or practice of a person does not have to be a fundamental tenet or article of faith, nor does it have to be required by any official religious dogma or conform with the position of any religious official or spiritual leader.
  • The claim that a belief or practice is a fundamental doctrine, dogma or principle of the religion or spiritual belief of the CAF member or applicant may be a consideration but need not be a determining factor.
  • If the answer to Step 2 is “Yes”, go to Step 3.
  • If the answer to Step 2 is “No”, deny the request (see paragraph 3.4 for action to be taken).
 3  Is the CAF member or applicant sincere in their belief?
  • A sincerely held religious or spiritual belief will normally require particular conduct that the person subjectively considers to be necessary to their faith or spirituality.
  • The belief must be sincere, honest and expressed in good faith, neither fictitious nor capricious.
  • The credibility of information provided by the CAF member or applicant, and whether the accommodation requested is consistent with their current religious or spiritual practices, is relevant in assessing sincerity.
  • If the answer to Step 3 is “Yes”, go to Step 4.
  • If the answer to Step 3 is “No”, deny the request (see paragraph 3.4 for action to be taken).
4

Will the requested accommodation or any alternative accommodation:

  • cause undue hardship (see paragraph 2.5);
  • be against the law; or
  • relieve the CAF member or applicant of having to meet one or more of the minimum operational standards related to the principle of universality of service?

Note 1 In considering whether the requested or alternative accommodation is against the law, approval authorities are encouraged to seek assistance from the local representative of the Judge Advocate General or the Public and Labour Law directorate of the Office of the DND and CF Legal Advisor, as applicable and if required.
Note 2 For the minimum operational standards related to the principle of universality of service, see DAOD 5023-1.
Note 3 Expert opinions are not required for an approval authority to make a decision.

  • If the answer to Step 4 is “No”, approve the request (see paragraph 3.4 for action to be taken).
  • If the answer to Step 4 is “Yes”, deny the request (see paragraph 3.4 for action to be taken).

5. Consequences

Consequences of Non-Compliance

5.1 Non-compliance with this DAOD may have consequences for the CAF as an institution, and for CAF members as individuals. Suspected non-compliance will be investigated. The nature and severity of the consequences resulting from actual non-compliance will be commensurate with the circumstances of the non-compliance.

5.2 The DHRD is responsible for notifying the CMP of any non-compliance with this DAOD.

6. References

 Acts, Regulations, Central Agency Policies and Policy DAOD

Other References

  • DAOD 5023-1, Minimum Operational Standards Relating to Universality of Service
  • A-FN-100-002/AG-006, Delegation of Authorities for Financial Administration for the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Forces (CF)
  • Form DND 2170, Canadian Armed Forces Employment Application
  • Form DND 2983-E, Request for Religious or Spiritual Accommodation