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Canadian Armed Forces Third Progress Report on Addressing Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour

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Executive Summary 

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; embed Operation HONOUR concepts across all levels of education and training; hold leaders to account for their response and actions; take decisive action to deter perpetrators; and engage and empower all members of the CAF to take action to address and eliminate sexual violence and harassment. (See Annex A for a summary of achievements and initiatives).

There are encouraging indications across the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) that Operation HONOUR is having a positive impact on CAF members’ awareness of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour and the impact on individuals and the institution. CAF members are acquiring a greater understanding of the critical role of bystanders including response and support, as well as increased reporting and confidence in the chain of command, military police and military justice.

Although very sobering, the results of the Statistics Canada (StatCan) Survey on Sexual Misconduct in the CAF provided the first data specific to sexual misconduct. This provided an opportunity to better understand the scope of the issue and specific areas to address and how to better target our efforts to eliminate harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour (HISB) in the CAF. The StatCan survey also revealed that there are signs that Operation HONOUR is taking hold and having a positive impact; survey results indicated that more than 80 percent of military members trust that their leaders will deal effectively with harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour.

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 to 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. Additionally, those who are convicted of sexual misconduct related offences are being subject to an administrative review that could result in release from the CAF. 

Over the past few months, we have implemented a wide range of new and more comprehensive education and training initiatives to increase awareness and prevention amongst our military members. The CAF Bystander Intervention unit level training and Respect in the CAF programs are helping CAF members recognize and react decisively to sexual misconduct and harassment when they see it. Workshops have been designed to foster a sustained change in attitudes and behaviours that are focused on building a respectful climate and culture within the Canadian Armed Forces to align with its ethical principles and values.

Our new training programs are interactive to show bystanders and leaders their role in the perpetuation of sexual violence and harassment if they choose to do nothing; the power they have to make a difference; and ways stop harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour and support their CAF members. Our products and programs demonstrate why it is crucial for witnesses to HISB and harassment to speak out against it, rather than staying silent.

The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre continues to play a key role in support to CAF members who have experienced harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour as well as to the chain of command who are seeking assistance in supporting victims. Victim Support Services (VSS) are being expanded to assist CAF members who have been affected by HISB to mitigate the impacts by providing more options for reporting; guiding them during the reporting, investigative and judicial proceedings; and providing a network for healing and support with peers. 

While initially ad hoc in nature, victim/survivor engagement has been occurring informally across the organization, but will now be formalized and elaborated with a victim/survivor engagement strategy that goes beyond simple consultation to more in depth collaboration, influence, guidance and assistance to the essential processes of enhancing victim support, response, and prevention as well as culture change in the CAF.

Until April 2016, the CAF did not have a single method to collect information on incidents and fully assess the scope of the problem of HISB in the CAF because no standardized reporting or tracking system was in place. Since April 2016, we have adopted a monthly tracking pro forma that enables the organization to track the occurrence of HISB incidents and analyze the progress of Operation HONOUR. This system will soon be replaced with an automated information management system, CAF HISB Tracking & Analysis System.

 In the interim, we continue to update and improve our capacity to capture and track data related to incidents, reporting, administrative and disciplinary action. The following table is a summary of HISB related metrics for the past fiscal year 1 April 2016 – 31 March 2017 (see Annex B for more details):

 

Reports to the military police of a potential offence of a sexual nature

288

Reports of offences of a sexual nature deemed Founded by military police

267

Number of charges laid thus far

64

Number of Summary Trials/Courts Martial

30

Number of guilty verdicts

27

Number of HISB related incidents reported at unit level through monthly reports (including potential offence of a sexual nature)

504

Breakdown of the 504 Incidents

HISB (jokes, belittling language, images)

281

Sexual Harassment

74

Sexual Misconduct (no further delineation)

66

Sexual Assault

47

Voyeurism

7

Sexual Interference

7

Indecent Exposure

6

Sexual Exploitation

5

Abuse of Authority

4

Child Pornography

3

Number of the 504 HISB related incidents referred to another authority for further investigation beyond unit level

221

Number of individuals issued Administrative Actions1 by the unit thus far

180

Number of Notices of Intent to Recommend Release issued thus far

117

Number of personnel released from the CAF for sexual misconduct thus far

24

For the first time, we also have an annual cumulative summary of incidents, actions taken and service tribunals for the period April 2016 through 31 March 2017, included as Annex C to this Progress Report. Starting with the January 2017 monthly summary reports are being published on the Operation HONOUR intra and internet2 sites. 

Operation HONOUR updates are provided at the weekly CDS Operations Brief in the same manner as all other CAF operations to engage and inform senior leadership of initiatives, progress, and decision points.

The Integrated Complaint & Conflict Management System (IC2M) is now operating on four Bases and is providing a simplified, integrated complaint and conflict management system that is responsive to and trusted by CAF members and the chain of command. This is aligned with recommendations of the Deschamps report to simplify the harassment complaint and conflict resolution processes.

Recruiting efforts have been successful in increasing the number of women in the CAF. Not only have the percentage of female recruits 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 continue to improve as the strategies and initiatives developed last year along with new advertising roll out.

The CF Provost Marshal (CFPM) and the military police (MP) continue to make significant progress in improving the MP response to sexual offences and inappropriate sexual behaviour.  From organizational structure to training to policy change to new case review initiatives, CF MP remain committed to conducting independent, objective investigations and to ensuring victims receive the professional care and support that they require. To that end, the CFPM will continue to work on improving the development and retention of experience within the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS), creating greater capacity to understand the scope of sexual offences reported to CF MP, implementing modern and professional training consistent with best practices and creating trust through the implementation of an external review model that maintains confidentiality. 

During this reporting period, CFPM actions focused on the stand-up of the Sexual Offence Response Team (SORT), understanding the scope of sexual offences being reported to military police, continued training on sexual assault investigations and trauma informed interviewing, and a focused review of cases previously deemed unfounded. While that review is ongoing, a preliminary examination identified 166 unfounded CF MP cases between 2010 and 2016.  It was also determined that between 2010 and 2015, the CF MP unfounded rate was 28.89%.  In the 15/16 period following the report, the unfounded rate decreased to 14.57% and has continued to decrease in FY 16/17 to 7.29% unfounded rate for sexual misconduct overall and 6.8% for sexual assault.

In May 2016 the JAG directed the completion of a comprehensive review of the court martial system.  The purpose of the review is to conduct a legal and policy analysis of all aspects of the CAF’s court martial system and, where appropriate, to develop and analyse options to enhance the effectiveness, efficiency, and legitimacy of that system and then assess whether changes to any features of the system are required.  In terms of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour, the review will examine all offences of a sexual nature to determine whether there is a requirement to update or add any additional service offences, whether current sentencing provisions are appropriate and whether any additional measures should be taken in order to protect the rights or interests of victims. The review team is to produce a completed report deliverable to the JAG no later than July 2017.

The CAF is committed to increasing diversity, and promoting inclusiveness amongst its personnel because experiences on operations have shown that diversity enhances operational effectiveness.  The CAF Diversity Strategy approved in May 2016 forms the framework that directs, promotes, and safeguards the respect and dignity of all CAF Members and a supporting Action Plan was approved in January 2017. The CAF Diversity Plan also includes the concept of inclusivity with new research and information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ+) members of the CAF and the development of a national LGBTQ+ support network within the CAF.

Six of the ten recommendations from the Deschamps Report have been met and the remaining four are well on the way to being completely implemented as the capacity and expertise of the SMRC evolves and our work on policy development is completed over the next year.

As we begin the next phase of Operation HONOUR using the information from the StatCan survey and building upon the past 18 months, we will continue to work with internal and external subject matter experts and key partners to take additional concrete steps to address and eliminate harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour.  Engendering the shifts in cultural norms that are required to achieve the mission of Operation HONOUR also requires engagement on a range of broader issues across our institution as well as doctrine and policy change.

We are working closely with Other Government Departments on initiatives related to Diversity and Inclusivity, Mental Health and Wellness, Gender Based Violence, Workplace Violence, and Sexual Harassment and continue to gain insights from the experience of our Allies and Canadian experts who have been part of our stakeholder engagement plan and consultations. In addition, we have an extensive research and performance measurement plan over a five year period to conduct literature reviews and research of key topics related to harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour as well as performance measurement of the impact and effectiveness of our response. 

Change is possible and we are seeing positive change across the institution. But to really make a difference and to truly eliminate sexual violence and harassment, we need to take action on all forms of conduct in the CAF and reinforce the military ethos that sets the Profession of Arms apart from others.  This is not something to be implemented by a single group and must be implemented together from the recruiting centre through all training institutions, from the unit level to national headquarters and from the most junior members to the most senior. Life-long attitudes and behaviours solidify at an early age. For systemic, generational change to occur, it's important that recruits learn respectful behaviours from the beginning. 

We are bringing these ideas to CAF members by updating the recruit training curriculum to help the newest CAF members to develop an understanding of the root causes of gender inequality, and — from a very early stage — understand healthy relationships and consent as well as appropriate conduct in the CAF.

For CAF recruits, their first training experience on basic officer or basic recruit training marks an important milestone in their lives. As recruits become part of a new CAF community at the Military Colleges and Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School or other initial training institutions and their first units, we know that far too often adapting to life in this new environment includes facing the sexualized culture or surviving an experience of sexual violence or harassment.

That's why we’re training and encouraging bystanders to get involved; health care professionals, counsellors at the SMRC, the chain of command; police and military prosecutors to better support survivors; instructors, leaders, command teams and supervisors to initiate and encourage a generational change in attitudes toward consent and healthy relationships, and workplaces and military installations to ensure the safety of CAF members.

Harmful or inappropriate sexual behaviour of any kind is absolutely unacceptable and definitive action is being taken across the four key lines of effort – understanding, supporting, responding and preventing. We can appreciate that there are those who remain skeptical of the military’s efforts. However, the institution is in this for the long term and the approach being taken is far more comprehensive than ever before. The CAF will keep moving forward, with our Strategy and Action Plan as a guide shaped by research and experience, towards an institution where all members are free from the fear, threat or experience of sexual violence and harassment.

The cultural change that is being fostered will not happen overnight and will continue to require the full engagement of every military member. We are beginning to see the impact of the programs we have implemented, and culture change is being influenced through Operation HONOUR, which though now well underway, will take years to instil and consolidate. However, change is occurring across the organisation and individual members are being influenced; the StatCan survey results demonstrated that there is increased trust and faith in victim support, action by the chain of command, and an understanding of why culture change is necessary and critical.  These are good indicators that we are making progress and influencing positive and necessary change.  

However, it is time to take stock of our work on Operation HONOUR, evaluate our actions and initiatives and ensure that we have not only the programs, policies, research and initiatives, but the institutional regulatory framework to ensure the desired cultural change permeates and engages the entire institution and the Profession of Arms. In order to do this we will move beyond using “orders” and broaden the work of Operation HONOUR, and the desired culture change, through a more comprehensive strategic plan that provides an all-encompassing institutional framework and long range vision. This will begin with the reconfiguration and realignment of the CAF Strategic Response Team on Sexual Misconduct to ensure an enduring function and permanent organization within the CAF. Concurrently, work will begin on the development of a more deliberate approach to sustain culture change beyond just the elimination of sexual misconduct to one that refreshes and reinforces the foundational principles of Duty with Honour and incorporates all of our other initiatives on diversity, inclusivity, health and wellness to ensure we have a culture of respect and dignity, that values our people, and supports and cares for them.


1 Administrative actions are not punishments under the Code of Service Discipline. Administrative actions are meant to address a CAF member's conduct or performance deficiency. They may operate independently or one may complement the other.

Administrative action imposed for the cases in the chain of command report may include remedial measures such as an initial counselling, recorded warning, and counselling & probation. In addition to remedial measures, administrative actions may include:

  • removal from supervisory or instructional duties
  • occupational transfer;
  • transfer between sub-components;
  • posting;
  • an offer of terms of service in any case in which an offer has not been made by CAF authorities;
  • reversion in rank; or
  • release or recommendation for release, as applicable.

2 Statistics Summary

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