I'd like to welcome everyone to the defence committee to continue our discussion about diversity within the Canadian Armed Forces.
I'd like to welcome Lieutenant-General Lamarre, Lieutenant-General Lanthier, Rear-Admiral Cassivi and Commodore Patterson. Thank you, all, for coming.
Before we get started, I think you probably all know that we just returned from Mali. It was an unbelievable experience. The troops are setting the bar pretty high for the task they've been asked to do within Op Presence in support of MINUSMA. I wanted to let you know personally that we were very, very impressed. Please pass that down the chain. It was really an unbelievable experience.
I'm going to turn the floor over to you, Lieutenant-General Lamarre, for your opening remarks, sir.
Thank you very much, sir.
Thank you for inviting us here today to discuss a subject that is a priority for the Canadian Armed Forces. As indicated, I am Lieutenant-General Chuck Lamarre. I'm chief of military personnel, and I am champion for visible minorities in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Diversity is of primary importance because the Canadian Armed Forces must reflect the society they serve. In turn, we benefit from a variety of perspectives at home and on operations. At the core, actively seeking diversity in the forces brings us the talent critical in maintaining the defence of Canada and Canadians.
We're undertaking to achieve this diversity through the combination of sound policy, focused attraction, recruiting and retention as well as culture change.
First, I'd like to introduce those who are here with me today. They too will provide short opening statements, share their perspectives on diversity and answer your questions.
To my right is Lieutenant-General Jean-Marc Lanthier, commander of the Canadian Army and champion for indigenous peoples. Rear-Admiral Luc Cassivi is to his right, commander of the Canadian Defence Academy responsible for professional military education in the Canadian Armed Forces, and co-champion for gender and diversity in operations. To his right is Commodore Rebecca Patterson, director general of the combined sexual response team and champion for women.
To begin, I will provide an update on the Canadian Armed Forces diversity strategy and action plan. In early 2017, the chief of the defence staff signed the Canadian Armed Forces diversity strategy. As a result of the release of “Strong, Secure, Engaged” later that same year, the diversity strategy is now undergoing a comprehensive review with extensive stakeholder engagement. A revised diversity strategy will be issued in 2019 as a long-term plan for the future to diversify our forces in line with our defence policy, “Strong, Secure, Engaged”.
As the champion for visible minorities, my responsibilities include engaging in and supporting the programs and initiatives that encourage the presence and contributions of visible minorities within the Canadian Armed Forces. In collaboration with our defence advisory groups, which act as intermediaries between the members of visible minority groups and organizational leadership, we've implemented a number of positive changes to be inclusive of a diverse workforce.
For example, the dress manual policy now includes clauses related to religious accommodations for members' hair. Muslim women may wear the hijab in a modified uniform. Jewish members may wear the yarmulke with numerous orders of dress. During some of our events, aboriginal and Métis members proudly wear the aboriginal veterans medallion or the Métis sash. Sikh members may observe the five symbolic aspects of the religion and wear a turban, subject, of course, to safety and operational considerations.
In addition, the policy has been amended to allow members to observe prayer and fasting requirements that align with religious practices. We also offer access to a variety of meals at home and during operations, including kosher and halal preparations for our field rations.
To ensure that we are truly welcoming towards all applicants, the forces continue to modernize, streamline and standardize recruiting. I would invite all of you to visit our new recruiting website at forces.ca, which was, of course, partially in response to the Auditor General's reports that talked about modernizing the recruiting system.
We have recruiters who are multilingual and from a wide range of ethnic and racial backgrounds. Combined with programs such as the aboriginal awareness and cross-cultural training, designed to sensitize all recruiters to cultural norms that may differ from their own background and beliefs, we have enabled easier communication with potential recruits and alleviated many of the misconceptions that minorities sometimes have regarding the military.
The Canadian Armed Forces' values contribute to positive change. One of those is within our chaplain service, as an example. A tolerance and respect for all faiths is a non-negotiable prerequisite to serve as a chaplain in the Canadian Armed Forces, and we employ chaplains, both men and women, who are drawn from all major religions.
We continue to pursue diversity through other means, such as citizenship ceremonies, where our senior officers and senior non-commissioned members address new members of the Canadian family and encourage them to consider us as potential employers.
I believe our efforts have borne fruit already.
The Canadian Armed Forces' goal for the representation of visible minorities is set at 11.8% and we are currently at 8.7%. 1 believe we may be higher but cannot truly know beyond doubt because we rely on self-identification. I know of many members who do not self-identify as belonging to any group within visible minorities.
These individuals don’t want to be known for being a minority. They want to be known for being part of the Canadian Armed Forces. As a senior leader within this institution, I'm proud of this sentiment.
As chief of military personnel, one of my primary responsibilities is to ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces are able to generate an effective and responsive fighting force ready to deliver on the direction given to us by the government. This force must represent the Canadians it serves and must avail itself of the great talent in every part of our population.
Our approach of sound policy development, focused attraction, recruiting and retention, as well as cultural change, will enable us to do this.
I will now turn to Lieutenant-General Lanthier for his opening statement.
Mr. Chair, and committee members, good afternoon.
lt is my pleasure to be here today in my capacity as the defence team champion for indigenous peoples. My role is to encourage the promotion of the history, heritage and contributions of our first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples as part of our activities at home and abroad and to cultivate a shared understanding between indigenous and non-indigenous members of the defence team.
There are approximately 2,800 indigenous members serving in the Canadian Armed Forces, in both the regular force and the reserves, amounting to a representation of 2.8%. We aim to reach a goal of 3.5% by 2026. I would note that those numbers do not include the Canadian Rangers. There are 5,200 Canadian Rangers, and about 26% of them self-identify as indigenous.
Recognizing the challenges faced by indigenous people wanting to join the forces, many educational and training opportunities have been developed to inform and stimulate interest in the service. These include the aboriginal leadership opportunity year, whereby young indigenous members attend the Royal Military College for a year; the Canadian Forces aboriginal entry program, a three-week course for indigenous people considering a military career; and our summer primary reserve training programs known as Bold Eagle, Black Bear, Carcajou, Grey Wolf and raven.
These activities offer a window into what it is to be a part of the Canadian Armed Forces team and enable indigenous men and women to become leaders in every field of the Canadian Armed Forces. Conversely, they allow the Canadian Armed Forces to learn from the indigenous communities.
ln 2017, the government released a set of 10 guiding principles, called the “Principles respecting the Government of Canada's relationship with lndigenous peoples”. As part of the defence team's commitment to support the Government of Canada's reconciliation efforts with indigenous peoples, we have established a working group to look at our policies and practices to inform how we engage and partner with indigenous peoples in accordance with these guiding principles. We must endeavour to continue to gain a better understanding of indigenous culture, acknowledge historical wrongs and build trust.
The Canadian Armed Forces acknowledge that the practice of Indigenous spirituality, traditions and customs is extremely important for its Indigenous members. Policies have been revised to provide opportunities for such practice. In 2017, the first Indigenous advisor to the chaplain general was appointed. He provides training and advice, and has undertaken the writing of a policy for chaplains that reflects the needs of Indigenous personnel.
Multiple activities and commemorations are conducted throughout the year to celebrate the contributions of Indigenous peoples to military service. The flagship activity is the Indigenous awareness week. It was introduced in 1992 and is held every May.
Such initiatives and efforts are informed by the defence aboriginal advisory group. This group helps ensure that the unique voices of our Indigenous members are heard on a multitude of platforms. It advises commanders on issues such as recruitment and retention, and other issues affecting the lives of Indigenous members. It also provides a forum for Indigenous peoples.
Finally, the defence team's relationship with Canada's Indigenous communities must offer benefits to both parties. We're focused on ensuring that our efforts serve to strengthen these uniquely important communities, not only to support the broader purpose of reconciliation, but equally with a view to fostering a work culture that attracts future soldiers, sailors and aviators of all backgrounds. This will make the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces a true employer of choice for future generations, reflective of the diversity and values of the Canadian population.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. I look forward to answering your questions.
I’ll now leave the floor to Rear-Admiral Luc Cassivi.
Thank you, Mr. Chair and committee members.
My name is Rear-Admiral Luc Cassivi, and I'm the commander of the Canadian Defence Academy. However, I'm here today in my capacity as the defence team champion for gender and diversity for operations.
It's my pleasure to appear before this committee today to provide you with some background on the work being done within the defence team on diversity and inclusion.
As you all know, in June 20I7, the government released a new defence policy entitled “Strong, Secure, Engaged,” which set out a clear commitment, on the part of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, to reflect the Canadian ideals of diversity, respect and inclusion.
This is not a new concept for National Defence, but we are bringing new energy to our efforts to build a workforce that values the depth and richness of the experiences, perspectives and human capabilities which exist through diversity. The strength of diversity in Canadian society is a strategic asset that makes us unique. We believe that a defence team composed of members of diverse backgrounds, languages, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender and so on is an operational and institutional advantage. It provides the defence team with more depth to plan and conduct operations around the globe and to develop more comprehensive policies and provide better institutional leadership.
“Strong, Secure, Engaged” contains five diversity- and inclusiveness-related initiatives, of which the appointment of a champion for diversity is one. Last summer, the deputy minister and the chief of the defence staff appointed a team of six dedicated executives to fill this commitment. Three of us form an executive team as co-champions for gender diversity for operations, including me as the lead champion, Chief Warrant Officer Colleen Halpin, who represents the non-commissioned members, and Ms. Isabelle Daoust, who represents our defence team civilians. Additionally, we have two champions for gender-based analysis, Commodore Josée Kurtz and Ms. Lisa Vandehei, as well as one champion, Brigadier-General Lise Bourgon, focused on women, peace and security issues.
The mission we have set for ourselves is to support a culture of inclusion within the defence team. That means encouraging an environment where defence team members see our differences as strengths, recognizing that individuals of different backgrounds, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation and culture will all contribute in different yet equally valuable ways, because those differences make us stronger and more effective both in the boardroom and on the battlefield.
This will require a sustained commitment to cultural change so that we can move beyond needing directives and training that tell us to accept diversity and instead help us to arrive at a point where diversity is understood and embraced as a core institutional value. As a starting point, we need to refocus on our core values and ethics, especially our commitment to respect the dignity of all persons.
My work as champion is focused on how we can achieve or advance these efforts. In my position as commander of the Canadian Defence Academy, I am able to have a direct impact on the culture of the Canadian Armed Forces through our education system. As such, we are conducting a review of “Duty with Honour”, our foundational leadership manual that outlines our values, ethics and military ethos. I am also focused on how I can reinforce and complement the roles played by the defence team employment equity champions through engaged leadership, coaching, mentoring, accountability and strategic engagement with both internal and external audiences.
As you'll hear from my colleagues, there's much more work being done to champion the contributions of our women, Indigenous Canadians and members of visible minority groups to the defence team, while also giving voice to their concerns and challenges so we can adapt and improve our policies and processes where needed.
I'm proud to support these efforts to help improve our understanding of how we can address systemic challenges and barriers across all groups, while also providing a voice for those communities that aren't currently represented.
Lastly, I want to thank you again for the opportunity to speak to you today, and I look forward to answering your questions.
Mr. Chair, with your permission, I'll give the floor to my colleague, Commodore Patterson.
Mr. Chairman and committee members, thank you very much for inviting me to participate in your study on diversity in the Canadian Armed Forces.
As the defence champion for women, I'm responsible for working with defence advisory committees and ensuring that the cause of women's equality in National Defence remains a well-supported priority. I also help commemorate and celebrate the achievements of women in defence while increasing awareness of the challenges still facing many women within this organization.
Women have played a significant role in the defence of our country for more than 100 years. For almost 20 years, women have been fully integrated in all occupations and roles within the Canadian Armed Forces. Today, women can enrol in any occupation and can serve with distinction in any environment.
Men and women are considered equals in our organization. In all trades, CAF men and women are selected for training, promotions, postings, and any career opportunity in exactly the same way: based on rank, qualifications and merit.
As of January 2019, there were 15,116 women in the Canadian Armed Forces, which represents 15.7% of our total force. Of these women, 13 are general officers and flag officers, and 57 are chief warrant officers or chief petty officers, first class, in other words, the senior leadership cadre within the Canadian Armed Forces.
Fundamentally, we recognize the importance of building a defence team that reflects the society we serve, but we have also learned through experience that gender diversity is essential for achieving operational effectiveness and tackling complex operational challenges.
This is why Canada's defence policy, “Strong, Secure, Engaged”, puts diversity and gender equality among its top priorities for the Canadian Armed Forces. This is also why we're taking steps to increase the percentage of women in the military from 15% to 25% by 2026.
To succeed at attracting and retaining women, the CAF has undertaken a number of initiatives. For example, we have established a “tiger team” composed of representatives from across the Canadian Armed Forces, the federal government and the private sector to examine recruiting strategies for women joining the military. In 2017 we launched a pilot program, women in force, to give women looking to join the military an opportunity to learn about the different facets of military life prior to enrolling. We've also introduced policies and practices that promote a healthy family and work-life balance.
We acknowledge that we need to do more to create a safer and more welcoming environment for women.
The Defence Women's Advisory Organization provides a forum for members of the defence team to be heard, and it assists us in identifying and resolving any systemic issues that may be adversely affecting the full contribution of women within defence.
Career management and progression, in particular, has been identified as a key issue for women in the Canadian Armed Forces. We are working to address this, in part by facilitating more mentorship and coaching from women leaders.
Sexual misconduct also continues to be a problem in the Canadian Armed Forces. Women are disproportionately affected, and this can be a barrier to retention.
In my substantive role, I'm the Director General of the Canadian Armed Forces strategic response team for sexual misconduct. In the past three years, the Canadian Armed Forces has taken definitive action to address all forms of sexual misconduct, through operation honour, but there's still much work to do. We're fully committed to continuing our efforts to better support victims, while working to reshape our culture to ensure respect and dignity for all.
Thank you. I welcome your questions.
The mentoring program isn't yet formally in place. It will be implemented as part of the ongoing review of the Canadian Armed Forces' diversity strategy. However, I can assure you that relationships with mentors have already been established, including on a formal basis.
In the chain of command, all senior officers are responsible for promoting the development of members under their command. This is done in a very formal way through interviews, but also in a more informal way through everyday conversations.
Many people are also accustomed to meeting with their superiors or with individuals who have more experience in their field of expertise, such as artillery, to seek advice and guidance for the purpose of advancing their careers.
We also know that a great deal of formal and informal mentoring is done on the women's side. This has been going on for a number of years. The mentoring has been paying off, as Commodore Patterson explained in her presentation. An increasing number of high-ranking women are moving into key command or leadership positions.
The whole idea of making sure we're achieving diversity in the Canadian Armed Forces is based on a number of things.
First is to set the conditions for what we're trying to do, not only the recruiting that's taking place right now, but the conditions backed by research, by the director general, military personnel research and analysis, an organization that works for me. Dr. Kelly Farley heads that piece. He has about 76 Ph.D. scientists who work for him to do research into the human condition, into the human personnel issues. Based on the research these folks conduct, which ranges from everything about retention for women in the regular and the reserve force to anything related to racial diversity or discrimination and the like; these are research projects that they have under way or completed.
We then looked at the next part of the information that we use to put in place what we're calling Operation Generation, a formal look at how we do recruiting on an annual basis in the Canadian Armed Forces. It was signed off by the CDS and the deputy minister. As a result of that, we now have a formalized system that uses a targeted approach to get the people we want to get in the Canadian Armed Forces, whether it be women, visible minorities or indigenous people.
We have to back that up, however, with policies that support that aspect. I mentioned some in my opening comments, the whole idea of making it so people who are from, as an example, visible minorities can see themselves in the Canadian Armed Forces and feel comfortable that their religious affiliation or even just their dress is respected, and we very much do that. It's a proud moment when you're on a graduating parade at RMC and you see proud, young Sikh men wearing the full beard and turban and they're wearing the scarlets.
We go from there to changing our environmental culture and get into the practical things, everything related to how the clothing is designed to fit men and women, but things like education as well, to demystify how it is to be in the armed forces, to avoid having people self-select out, which can be a problem for us. We want to make sure they can see that they can join and have success.
I'll provide an example. When my spouse entered the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, she spoke only English. She came out of the school fully bilingual three years later. We're trying to ensure as much as possible that people can learn a language through contact.
I pointed out that we'll be changing the policy on language training. Currently, 70% of the people who enter the recruit school in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu are anglophone and 30% are francophone. In terms of the instructors, the opposite is true, meaning 70% are francophone and 30% are anglophone. They want to stay in their area. With our new policy, we'll force people to work more often in a second-language environment, which will help them become bilingual.
Of course, the family issue comes up. We've previously given English courses to a young francophone family that arrived in Edmonton to help them progress in their new environment.
We're talking about diversity and official languages, but there are other languages and cultures.
For example, during the last week of January, I was with 32 Canadian Brigade Group. The group is part of the reserve force, in Toronto. Over one hundred languages are spoken by members of the brigade.
This is an incredible strength, because along with language comes ethnicity, culture and a way of seeing things. This is an advantage, because it helps us reach the communities. It increases our genetic potential to recruit, because we can reach more groups. In addition, from an operational standpoint, it gives us an advantage when we deploy an expeditionary operation. We can count on the second or even first generation members who come from the countries where we travel.
This aspect goes far beyond the two official languages. I think this aspect is an incredible strength that, in the case of the army, lies mainly within the reserve force, because the reserve force remains local. The reserve force is based in over 127 communities across the country.
Welcome. This is a really intriguing discussion.
I'd like to continue on Mr. Martel's theme but go a bit further.
The difficulty is measuring and evaluating, but I've also heard us talking about our diversity strategy in terms of recruiting diverse people from diverse communities and bringing them in. Does something exist or is it still emerging? What are we doing about recruitment in general to evaluate and measure any new recruit's level of understanding of diversity culture, let's say, in terms of where they're starting off and how much work the organization has to do?
I heard that there is some research being used or being tapped into in terms of the human condition, but that's a difficult question, isn't it? It's not just about educating people inside. It's not just about educating a diverse community to demystify the armed forces and say, “Oh, we are welcoming. We are changed.”
How are you measuring? Do you recognize that this is a challenge that has to be done? I'm willing to take the rest of my time to have that loose conversation. It's extremely intriguing. I don't know; I think that's the first time I've seen it written as carefully as “inculcate a culture of diversity”—at the recruitment level, I would say. That's where I'd like to stick with my time, if we could.
It's not mandatory. We ask for people do it. But we get a great rate of return on it. Over 10,000 people answered the last one. When you're looking at that, it's a pretty good sample size for the research that's in there.
But if I can come back to how we evaluate a recruit's understanding, when the recruits go through the process of joining, they ultimately go through a Canadian Forces aptitude test which measures their cognitive abilities. They also have to go through an interview process. As part of the interview process, we indicate to them what it is that we expect as behaviour in the Canadian Armed Forces. There has to be an acknowledgement from them that it's a place where you cannot discriminate based on a number of things. You can anticipate what they are. It's your sexual orientation, your gender, your age, those types of things.
After that, when they come in to the recruiting school, the leadership and recruiting school in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, they then have to undergo a number of things that relate to training, inculcating the aspects that we consider to be the values and ethics of the Canadian Armed Forces. Every single soldier coming in as a regular force soldier undergoes six hours of training over three different weeks that look and make sure that he or she understands what our values are, but also understands the tenets of Operation Honour. That's taught not only by the section commander, but also by the commandant of the school in the fifth week of the course. For the officers it's 6.6 hours during that same period of time. The training for those two groups is 10 weeks and 12 weeks, respectively, for the junior NCOs and for the officers coming in.
Along the way, we make sure that we not only expose the recruits to what is expected behaviour, but also that they get taught what the expected behaviour is. If they actually run afoul of those behaviours, then we have the administrative and disciplinary measures available to us. Every now and again you will have folks who come in and display the kind of behaviour that's unacceptable, whether it be racist or whether it be sexualized behaviour that's not conforming with our ethics and values, and if we cannot correct it we'll get rid of those individuals before we invest too much time in them.
Maybe I will still go in there. But you can tell there's an eagerness to be able to do it.
Is it a question of a right to serve or making the armed forces better? It's really a combination of both. By law, if you're a Canadian citizen you have the right to serve. We want you to serve. We're always on the search for talent. That's the important thing.
I think making it stronger is what it is. We keep talking about talent. Our responsibility is to have a 100,000-person force that can fight at the far end of the world and look after Canadians here in Canada. We want to get the folks who can make this happen.
You can see how it is getting challenging all around the world to get that search for talent, if you will. We need to be in the thick of things and make sure we can get that talent.
If anything, that's one thing that comes to the question you were asking about recruiting.
How important is it to broaden this? It's very important to us. We realize we've had an under-representation of women in the Canadian Armed Forces. Yet if you look at Canadian universities and colleges and stuff like that, most faculties now are bulging with women as opposed to men.
We need a combination of all sorts of folks, intellectuals who can bring us forward in a number of areas, but also hands-on folks who are going to make other things happen. Just robust Canadians to come and join.
I've spent over 18 months in Afghanistan, working directly with the Afghan National Security Forces.
In late 2000, the concept of female engagement teams came forward. It was deployed initially mostly by our allies. The understanding, despite what appears to be initially a very patriarchal society, is that the role of women in society in Afghanistan is critically important. What happens in a compound is that the rule of the house is led by the ladies. To be able to break that cultural barrier through the use of a female engagement team allowed us to understand culture and influence over and above the military's traditional means. Here's a clear example of where gender really matters.
As I mentioned, it's the ability to have a diverse force not only just in operations, but when you come into an organization with different beliefs, different paradigms and different approaches. I'll speak as the champion for indigenous people. They were looking at medicine credentials and medicine and healing, which is highly based in spiritual offers, things we don't necessarily explore. It brings new avenues, new ways of looking at critical things. It makes us more effective, more efficient. For me it plays a tremendous role.
I'll offer a couple of comments for both and after that pass it on to my colleagues.
First of all, on the age, we don't discriminate on the basis of age. We have folks who have joined the Canadian Armed Forces later on in their lives, oftentimes having had successful first careers and then having the chance to consider things. These folks, though, have to meet all of our aptitude tests, and that includes physical fitness. For universality of service, you have to be fit and able to be deployed to wherever you're asked to go. We have folks who continue to serve and who serve very well. Some of them have joined as late as in their fifties.
On the issue of gender diversity, we do have a policy that recognizes we will have folks who might be at the point in their lives of changing, and we support them when they do that. That starts right from the time they identify themselves to their chain of command, as well as a medical chain that is familiar and attuned with what the process is. It's a very disciplined approach, too, to make sure that these folks going through this are being supported properly when they go through it. We have people in my headquarters who have gone the whole range of switching from being men to being women and who continue to serve with us and do very well. Young officers and troops scattered throughout the Canadian Armed Forces go through this process.
I believe there's a recognition within that community that you will get a fair shake if you come and join the Canadian Armed Forces.
It's called orders. I'm not trying to make light of it, but for us, it's specifically that we've been given the mandate to do those, and it's a mission we take very, very seriously.
We have, first of all, the direction to go forward and do it. That's why we're setting all the conditions I was talking about, why we're doing the research to help us to achieve it and why it is that we want to make sure that we make the necessary changes to the culture and everything else to encourage it. That's the first one.
But much more importantly, it brings me to my first piece. It's the whole aspect of talent. When you're looking at bringing in people to operate the complex systems we have, we just have to go out there and get it. If you're not actually going to look at, for example, getting more female recruits to come in, you're cutting yourself off from 52% of the Canadian population. First of all, we're told to do it, but more importantly it's the talent aspect that's driving it. We're not incentivizing individual people to go and do it, but we are indeed saying that you're going to benefit from what is out there.
The only level at which we formally incentivize is the recruiting level. We go to recruiting centres and we say this is what we want to bring in. The recruiting group is actually assessed as to how they're going to meet the requirements we've identified through an annual military occupational review, the system through which we create our strategic intake plan.
I have just a quick comment, because I think my time is up.
I just find that it goes too slowly even with orders. This is my sense about it. I also was very fortunate to be part of the trip to Mali, and 14.3% of those who are serving there are women. Below the logistics officers, human resources administrator, mobile air movement, nursing, and intelligence officer, everybody was one or two, so there are very few. When I asked why more do not actually apply, the answer was that, well, they didn't meet the requirements.
Anyway, I do think there's probably a need for some sort of incentive. I will wait until maybe another opportunity to ask some other questions.
As you know, it is a challenge to grow anything. There is no other institution in Canada that's actually tried to approach sexual misconduct as we have, so her recommendations were welcomed and accepted. We admit that our initial attempts weren't quite where they needed to be. The sexual misconduct response centre, once it was stood up, had to grow. It started off dealing with the most critical issue and it was supporting those victims who were affected by sexual misconduct.
However, we've been very fortunate to have gone through the Auditor General's report, and we once again welcome the recommendations that came out there, but it says, okay, you need to really look at this now. So we really are in what I call a shifting moment, where we have hit a critical mass within the sexual misconduct response centre, and the mandate of the SMRC is in the process of going. In fact, as of now, Dr. Preston is the lead of Operation Honour, and I am in the supporting role of creating the products and the pieces for the institution to make us go forward.
We are getting there. We still have work to do, but we welcome her review and her further comments, and we are acting on them now.
We're in the process of doing exactly that.
First of all, on the recommendation by occupation, we reflect a bit what you see in society. We can point to eight occupations in the Canadian Armed Forces where the majority of women like to work, and a lot of them relate to health care. Forty-eight per cent of all the members in the Canadian Armed Forces health service are women. We see the same thing in support and administration, those kinds of occupations.
We don't have that many women who actually want to go into and become infantry soldiers. We encourage them when they're coming through, and we're seeing a growth in that aspect as well. We believe that once you begin having more people there, you will see a corresponding growth because there will be leaders who go forward.
Right now a number of our key combat arms lieutenant-colonels, the level at which they command units, are women and this is in the combat arms work, and of course for Jean Lanthier, and these are the kinds of folks you're starting to see pierce through there, so leadership is starting to emerge.
As for being able to cite targets for each occupation, the reality is that we are setting targets for anybody for each occupation, and we encourage women, when they show up, to go into non-traditional ones and the ones where we have the most need.
For example, we're looking to increase the number of sonar operators we have to make sure we can maintain our ships and have them sailing properly. When women are coming in, we're making sure that shows up as a priority occupation.
If we spend a bit of time, we can see that, on our recruiting websites, all of those priority occupations are there, and again, the emphasis is put on making sure women can see that they're welcome in each one of those occupations.
I'll use the number as the champion for indigenous people.
For example, on the number of recruits, if you take the percentage of recruits who were indigenous, self-declared indigenous, 3.2% of recruits were indigenous last year in the numbers, so it shows that trend.
I run six different programs in the summer to encourage indigenous people. We had an initial intake last year of 223. I've created two new programs in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, and the intake this year will be 340. To go from 2,800 indigenous people to about 3,400 to meet those targets, we need to recruit approximately 200 indigenous folks a year. Last year we recruited 162, so with my throughput, I'm very confident we'll get there.
Yes, I certainly can, if you'll just allow me to go to my notes here.
We have a number of significant pieces, not only in the programs for indigenous youth that General Lanthier was talking about, but we have different places, for example, a number of websites that portray young women who are going through basic training, so they can be followed and seen. We can tell the following-up and everything else. There are approximately 16,000 people who are following these two young women going through training. It helps to demystify what the training looks like.
We also have something called Operation Resurrection. We use the term to go after those files where people have gone quiet. When a young Canadian starts to apply, if they all of a sudden stop the application process, our recruiters actively try to get them back. We get a return rate for reviving the file, if you will, of approximately 30%.
We also have a number of advertising campaigns that are done at various detachments. In St. John's, for example, we are joining up with the College of the North Atlantic, Bonavista campus, for orientations in trade technologies. Specifically, we are trying to encourage those graduates, especially the women graduating from those programs, to join the Canadian Armed Forces.
We're doing this as well in Fredericton, career exploration in trades and technology for women. It is a forum that's being held. We go and actually sponsor the forum, to make sure women can come and see that they can be part of trades and technologies in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Clear across Canada, all of our detachments or recruiting centres undertake to do presence and to do these kinds of engagements, to make sure that we can excite Canadians to come and be part of the Canadian Armed Forces.
We want to go and reach out to influencers, families, community leaders, coaches, teachers—those types of folks. We're gearing up to do that specific communication with those folks.
We know from the long-form surveys, for example, where women live in the Toronto region by postal code. We can break it down by age as well. Our advertising, our presence, our reaching out with letters needs to be within those specific things to make it attractive to people who may never have thought of joining the Canadian Armed Forces. We also believe that we should consider using the mailings that you send to your ridings, to make sure we put in there the opportunities that exist within the Canadian Armed Forces.
All of these are the aspects of reaching out to influence people so that they can actually consider us as people, as an organization where they'll get a fair shake and a chance to succeed. It really is a place where it's a meritocracy, so come and compete, have some fun, and serve your nation.
Absolutely. Thanks for raising that point. I'm glad you did because I don't want to have any misconceptions based on that.
The next sentence that I said in my statement is that they want to be identified as part of the Canadian Armed Forces, and that's an important aspect.
I heard from many members as I have as the champion for visible minorities. I have what we call a visible minority advisory group made up of visible minorities within the Canadian Armed Forces. I just met with approximately 30 of them two weeks ago. We talk about a number of issues they bring up.
At one of the previous meetings with them when I first came into the position and as we were standing up Op Generation, how we're going to recruit, I was a bit taken to task. I had members from this advisory group and other individuals who said they didn't want to be known as coming from this or that organization. When they were in, they wanted to be part of the Canadian Armed Forces. One of them, who was a general officer of Japanese ancestry, soon to retire, has been very successful in his career, was the one who took me to task for 15 minutes on this. He said when it first came out that we wanted people to self-identify, he looked upon it as something he did not want to do. He wanted to be known just as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces.
So when I raise the issue, it's not to say that you shouldn't be proud of where you come from, far from it. As Jean-Marc indicated, we gain tremendously from having this wide diversity, but as for them, when they're coming to join the Canadian Armed Forces they want to feel they're coming to be part of this team. I think that's one of the big things. It's a powerful feeling for them. I had both young and older members from visible minorities, different ethnic backgrounds, who said they first and foremost want to be identified as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces. That's what my comment was intended to say.
I hear you, Lieutenant-General, and I appreciate that explanation. I can't speak for the person you're referring to, but as a member of Parliament, as a Canadian of Chinese descent, I am very proud to be a member of Parliament. I would imagine any person who serves within our Canadian Armed Forces is proud to serve.
However, in any organization there is a dominant culture, and we need to be mindful that when people feel it unnecessary to self-identify as a particular group or that they believe it's not good to be known for being part of a minority, it speaks to the possibility of a cultural dissonance, the feeling they are better off being part of that dominant culture in the absence of self-identity.
I believe that any person is very well aware of their self identity if they are racialized. We should encourage women and visible minorities to self-identify as who they are and to be accepted and to have a sense of belonging in that organization. To me that is very important.
I believe that if we are looking at a situation where people feel they do not need to self-identify and they do not want to be known for being a minority, then we need to do a better job of creating that inclusive environment where they should be comfortable and to be able to do their jobs as members of the Canadian Armed Forces with pride, having the diverse lived experiences, histories and culture they can bring to the work they do.
My colleague Mr. Spengemann's question on how that diversity enriches the work of the Canadian Armed Forces gives a very good example of the importance of enabling that true inclusiveness.
I've been part of the Defence Women's Advisory Organization since it started a long time ago.
One thing we do know about women, no matter where we serve, is that networking and how women network is quite important. In a force where you can be a minority in the group, losing that network can make you feel very isolated. I come from health services, so I've come from a fifty-fifty split throughout my career. What we end up doing is creating informal networks of professional support. That's on the support side. We've also done it—I'm going to go back to the comment about mentoring.
Women have been mentoring women for a very long time. It does not necessarily know the barrier between “I'm a public servant” and “I'm a member of the Canadian Armed Forces”. We tend to network as groups and we create networks. There are networks that support, as well as share questions like, “How did you tackle this problem?” I think one of the key things, moving forward, is to carry on looking at a gender-focused mentoring approach, where we're talking about how we confront and overcome issues in life, and asking each other's experience. That has actually been my experience in my career.
The last thing I'd like to add is that, as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces and as a woman, I have been supported by men and women in my life. As I have grown up in this organization, I have been very fortunate. I have been mentored from a very young age, before it was popular to do so. I've also carried on to having mentors who are men, as well. So I've been able to get a broad view.
I thought I'd like to share that.
Again, I've only been in the business and the political worlds. In my opinion, we actually don't have.... It's not as developed as it is for men. Whether it's networks or supporting each other automatically, it hasn't been as developed in the two areas that I've worked in. That's the reason I've been asking.
How do you actually evaluate it, ongoing? I don't have a lot of time now, but if you have additional suggestions on how we can help women be more supportive of other women within the Canadian Armed Forces, I'd be very welcoming of that being sent to this committee.
There is another question I have. I was just remarking on my colleague's research of the AG report, which said, "the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) should establish appropriate representation goals for women for each occupation”. When I was in Mali, I was a little bit surprised to hear that there were a number of positions that didn't have qualified women. When you're talking about a medical technician, health care administrator, traffic technician and aviation system technician, these all sound like areas that, in my opinion, are not like those of engineers or pilots for which you need lots of hours and years of training. Sometimes I feel that you have to go to the people who exist who are women in these positions and ask, “Why are there not more of you? What might be some of the roadblocks?” Is that something that might actually be done right now in the Canadian Armed Forces?
Yes, actually we do that specific research. You raise a very good point of what we have as a potential block.
Again, DGMPRA does research on diversity and inclusion, to find out about it. One of the research projects I just finished in 2018 is about recruiting and employing women in the regular force, CAF members' perspective of what brought them in, what obstacles they've found and how they find they're supported.
We've done a similar thing in the primary reserve. That one will be published in 2019. After that, we have a number of other ones that are related to racism and harassment in the Canadian Armed Forces.
We work with NATO to find out about factors for diversification, to take advantage of that network. I have a network of Five Eyes partners as well, the English-speaking nations, where we do the same exchange of information.
All of that is to make sure we can look at employment diversity and how we measure the inclusion aspect of it.
It's more than just the studies at this point. You're asking about the implementation, and you're absolutely right. Part of it we referred to earlier on when we talked about more use of social media or virtual platforms, if you will. We find we're getting great success from that. The advantage of actually using social media is the fact that you can get analytics from it as well. So just as when they're going to look at running shoes or whatnot, folks can see what is being examined on the Internet. It's just a reality of life, and it's an important aspect for us to make sure that when we're sending out things, we can read how popular they are.
That's how I was able to give my answer earlier on about the aspects of women as recruiters and women being featured. We have a great little feature going on right now in which we have a cadet at Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean, and she is being featured as a guest speaker for the webcast. That is widely popular with female audiences in the province of Quebec, francophone speakers and everything else.
We think it's important for us to be able to do that, because that's how we're going to expose what is there for people to potentially join. It's everything from looking at how you use social media, how you do data analytics, how you make sure you have websites that are up to speed and that are popular, if you will. It can't be a stultified, difficult thing to navigate. We've given a mandate that the forces must be able to recruit in six clicks. That's how they start their process, as opposed to the 27 that it used to be.
Those types of hands-on, easier and more attractive campaigns are important to us. It's the same thing when we're actually putting out campaigns in which we need to feature more women. We don't have a problem with getting enough people to come to be infantry soldiers, but we do have a problem with getting enough women to come and join the Canadian Armed Forces, so we're concentrating our actual recruiting. If you look at our ads, we're always featuring young women and oftentimes, young women from visible minority communities or indigenous folks, to say, “Come and join this team and see yourself reflected here. See who we have.” Luckily, we have some great ambassadors in the Canadian Armed Forces who are there and able to speak to these folks and say, “Come on in. It's a good place to be.”
Thank you for the question.
Again, it comes back to measuring the culture. What we can say is that through the surveys we've done, such as the “Your Say” surveys, the first step in changing culture is addressing behaviours and the climate that they are in. We're about to have the release of our second Statistics Canada survey at the end of May of this year, which will be our second data point to actually give us an idea of how we're doing, beyond just counting the number of behaviours and just output data in order to see how we're faring.
The last “Your Say” survey that we were referring to showed that 87% of the people had confidence that their chain of command would support them if they came forward with a complaint about sexual misconduct. Now, while that isn't culture writ large, it's starting to tell you that the first step in trying to move forward is to make people feel more confident with our system.
I'm hoping that by the end of May we'll be able to have more information for you and give you a really good idea about how we're doing with elements that are related to culture.
I'll start by answering, but I invite my colleagues to join the discussion.
Every year and even every day, the Canadian Armed Forces make sure that we talk about the mental health and well-being of individuals. In the fall of 2017, we implemented a suicide prevention strategy with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Each year, we run a campaign with Bell Let's Talk so people know that we don't want to hide people with mental health problems and that we encourage them to seek help. People in senior positions in the Canadian Armed Forces are very open to talking about the difficulties they have had, and serve as examples.
I will add one last thing, because I think it's important. People don't realize that members of the Canadian Armed Forces are no different from them. Many military personnel have had mental health problems. They were treated, returned to work and deployed on operations. They have had tremendous success in their careers and personal lives.
In our environment, we must continue every day to encourage people to seek help and support them. We must also encourage those who support them, whether their peers, bosses or subordinates. In many cases, it is by encouraging and supporting them that these people will seek help.
I'm happy to table those, because we have the breakdown of what it is.
Of course, the whole idea of how we're going to increase it is to go forward as we have discussed here, to put in place the goals and to have the process by which we specifically go and do targeted recruiting, and to reach out to influencers to engage folks who can influence young men and women to join the Canadian Armed Forces—and not so young in many cases. All of those aspects are important for us.
It goes beyond that, too. It goes beyond to make sure, for example, we have the right equipment for women. There's been an observation raised that a lot of times we don't have properly fitting clothing and whatnot, so we're doing work through our defence research establishment and with our materiel group to make sure we can do the internal market studies that are going to make sure the equipment fits properly.
That's all part of making it more attractive, if you will, for diversity and for recruitment.