Hardship and Risk Allowance for deployed CAF personnel

Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members deployed to certain theatres of operation are entitled to Hardship and Risk Allowances in recognition of the dangers and conditions associated with specific locations.

What are Hardship and Risk Allowances?
The intent of the Hardship Allowance (HA) is to compensate for the living conditions at a specific post. It is based on an assessment of how much harsher and more difficult the living conditions are in-theatre compared to the home base routine in Canada.

There is also a Hardship Bonus that is a percentage of the HA, and is based on a member’s accumulated months of service on operations. This rate fluctuates according to an individual’s circumstances and previous operational rotations. The intent of the Risk Allowance (RA) is to compensate for the risks associated with a specific post, and is based on the combination of both the probability of a hazard occurring and the severity of its impact on the contingent.

Process
The Departmental Hardship and Risk Committee (DHRC) assigns the HA and RA levels for each mission. This committee sits quarterly to review every operation once annually. For new missions, submissions from the task force commander should be completed after 30 days in-theatre. For existing operations, a call for submissions will go out to the task force commander approximately 60 days ahead of the scheduled review.

Approval
Once the DHRC chairperson approves the findings of the committee, the minutes of the DHRC setting out the new hardship and risk ratings are then forwarded to the Director of Compensation and Benefits Administration (DCBA) at Military Personnel Command (MPC). DCBA publishes hardship and risk ratings by official message and on the MPC intranet site under the Benefits tab.

For an existing mission, the new hardship or risk level becomes effective:

  • On the first day of the month following the date of approval by the DHRC chairperson for an increase to a hardship or risk level;
  • On the first day of the sixth month following the date of the DHRC chairperson’s approval for a decrease to a hardship or risk level; or
  • Any other date as approved by the Treasury Board President.

For a new mission, the hardship and risk level shall be effective on the date the operation was designated by the Chief of the Defence Staff.

Tax Relief
Some international missions also qualify for tax relief and this is administered in accordance with the Income Tax Act. CAF members deployed on operations with a risk score at or above Level 3 automatically qualify for tax relief on income earned while deployed. As scores are rounded, this means that missions with a risk score of 2.50 and higher automatically receive tax relief.

For those missions with a risk score between 2.00 and 2.49, tax relief is provided for periods when the mission is assessed as being a moderate risk, and as designated by the Minister of Finance.

Conclusion
The HA and RA are but two of a number of benefits paid to deployed members in recognition of the dangers and discomforts associated with a specific post. The DHRC strives to assign hardship and risk levels that accurately reflect the actual conditions in a specific geographic location and on a specific operation. Additionally, the committee’s goal is to ensure an objective, fair, repeatable, and defendable assessment process.

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