Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
This is Dr. Denise Preston, from the SMRC; Lieutenant-General Charles Lamarre—who you've seen many times before—who is chief of military personnel; and Commodore Rebecca Patterson, who has appeared before this committee before as well.
Mr. Chair, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this study on diversity in the Canadian Armed Forces. I understand that as part of that study you wanted an update on the status of Operation Honour. As the Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff, I've been tasked by our chief of the defence staff, General Vance, to oversee the conduct of Operation Honour, which is, of course, a multi-faceted initiative that very much requires a team approach. For that reason, I have here with me the team that I just introduced.
Operation Honour is increasingly making the Canadian Armed Forces a safer and more welcoming environment for all, and the leadership of the Canadian Armed Forces is committed more than ever before to stamping out sexual misconduct.
A few weeks ago, our fourth progress report on Operation Honour was published. This report offered a comprehensive overview of what the Canadian Armed Forces has accomplished to date in an effort to eliminate sexual misconduct. It provides analysis, statistics and information on a variety of initiatives that have been undertaken across the Canadian Armed Forces.
My opening remarks today will constitute a brief synopsis of that report and touch on a few of the more recent developments with regard to Operation Honour.
Operation Honour was initiated in 2015. Over the past three plus years, we have significantly evolved and are confident that we have completed important foundational work, which was essential to addressing sexual misconduct and effectively supporting those affected by it.
It's important to state up front, however, that while we are consistently looking at ways to improve our approach, we haven't gotten everything right and we certainly recognize there is much left to do. We've learned a great deal through our own experience and analysis, through collaborative work with the sexual misconduct response centre, from the assessment done by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, and from feedback provided by external experts and stakeholders.
Some of the measures that we implemented along the way have resulted in unintended consequences, and some of the initiatives and changes did not deliver the desired outcomes. For instance, we have not made sufficient progress in key areas such as policy and strategic cultural change, and that has hampered our overall effort.
We have acknowledged that more work is required, specifically with respect to the 10 recommendations made by the external review authority, Madam Deschamps. Those 10 recommendations remain the primary barometer of our progress and we are committed to implementing them to the fullest extent possible. Of course, that commitment is explicitly stated in the defence policy “Strong, Secure, Engaged”.
Sexual misconduct, however, is a difficult and complex issue to address; there is still much to learn. In light of the Auditor General's findings and our own internal review on Operation Honour, we've assessed our progress on the implementation of those recommendations and have determined that adjustments are required in our approach in order to achieve their intent.
Currently, we feel that two of the external review authority's recommendations have been fully achieved. Those are fully acknowledging the problem, and undertaking to address it and simplifying the harassment resolution process.
One more has been achieved in a manner that meets the intent of the recommendation while remaining consistent with Canadian Armed Forces structural, functional and jurisdictional parameters. That is allowing victims of sexual assault to request transfer of complaints to civilian authorities.
We continue to make progress to varying degrees on the remaining seven: establishing a cultural change strategy; establishing a centre of accountability; allowing independent reporting without triggering a formal complaint process; developing definitions and terminology; developing a unified policy approach; assigning responsibility for providing, coordinating and monitoring victim support to the support centre; and, finally, assigning to the centre the responsibility for the development of the training curriculum and for the monitoring of training on matters related to inappropriate sexual behaviour.
I will now briefly expand on what we are doing to address these deficiencies.
We're currently developing a campaign plan to focus our efforts moving forward. The plan will be informed by advice from external experts. It will have clear lines of effort, as well as dedicated resources to ensure success. It will drive our work in areas such as prevention, engagement, policy development, cultural change and finally—perhaps most significantly—victim support.
Support for victims has been and will continue to be our main effort for the next phase of Operation Honour. It will be our priority to ensure that victims remain confident that the Canadian Armed Forces will support them through all administrative and legal processes. We will ensure they have access to the services and support required to recover from harm.
The sexual misconduct response centre, led by Dr. Preston, plays an essential role in providing victim support, and its mandate is being expanded. It is independent from the military chain of command, reports to the deputy minister, and is central to refocusing and enhancing our efforts. That is why Dr. Preston is here with me today: as an independent voice. The Canadian Armed Forces' senior leadership fully supports the expansion of the centre's mandate and has confirmed that it will be resourced accordingly.
Moving forward, the centre will play a greater role in our overall approach to sexual misconduct. As recommended by Madam Deschamps in her 2015 report, the centre will drive institutional cultural change in a number of ways. It will provide expert opinion, contain subject matter authority, and provide advice on the development of policy, training, strategy and evaluation of programs related to sexual misconduct.
That said, the Canadian Armed Forces will remain responsible and accountable for Operation Honour and its implementation.
The sexual misconduct response centre will provide an authoritative voice to guide, support and monitor progress, helping the Canadian Armed Forces successfully implement and sustain these efforts.
The Canadian Armed Forces' relationship with the sexual misconduct response centre is still evolving. Our goal is to achieve a posture that will be effective for the Canadian Armed Forces, while not detracting from the independence of the centre. Let there be no doubt that the Canadian Armed Forces is fully committed to this.
Now, more than ever, we are humbled by the scope of the problem and the challenges we face in dealing with sexual misconduct effectively.
We are working hard to deepen our understanding of the problem, by analyzing existing information, connecting with stakeholders, conducting regular research as well as working with our allies and sharing best practices.
This work will inform the the development of the armed forces' Operation Honour campaign plan.
There is, quite frankly, no off-the-shelf solution to implement. There are no proven models to follow for an organization like ours. We need to find a Canadian solution that works for our people and for our organization.
We are taking into account external information and advice, and we're going to find better ways to ensure that it continually guides our work. We're going to push harder in those areas where we are not as far along as we should be. We will continue our research and take action on how best to address the harmful attitudes and behaviours that contribute to sexual misconduct. Those behaviours have absolutely no place in our culture.
Above all, we are going to ensure that we put our people's needs first. People are at the centre of everything we do, and the way that we support and treat them has a direct impact on our operational effectiveness and the trust that Canadians place in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Diversity and inclusiveness is about ensuring that all our members feel welcome in our organization. It is imperative that the Canadian Armed Forces foster a culture based on trust, respect and dignity for everyone. We believe that Operation Honour is making a difference in that regard. However, we still have a long way to go to eliminate the serious and persistent threat to the welfare of our people and to the long-term health of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Thank you again for your interest today.
I will be pleased to answer your questions.
Thank you for giving me an opportunity to speak today as part of your study on diversity in the Canadian Armed Forces.
I am pleased to be here to give you an update on the evolution of the sexual misconduct response centre, as well as a snapshot of the projects my team and I are working on.
Since its inception in September 2015, the sexual misconduct response centre has built its operations on the provision of response and support services to members of the Canadian Armed Forces affected by sexual misconduct. lt offers confidential, bilingual, client-centred services to members 24-7 and may be accessed by members no matter where in the world they may be. The centre's counsellors all have expertise in working with survivors of sexual trauma and do not have a duty to report. While these services filled a critical gap, they are not sufficient to address the range of needs affected members have within the complexity of the Canadian Armed Forces environment. There is also a need for better coordination of support services and specialized training for those who provide support.
These observations related to support services, together with the results of internal reviews and the observations of the Office of the Auditor General, identified a requirement for a significant revision of and expansion to the mandate of the sexual misconduct response centre. ln addition to our primary mandate of providing support to CAF members who are affected by sexual misconduct, we will provide expert advice and recommendations on a range of issues related to the prevention of and response to sexual misconduct and will monitor the Canadian Armed Forces' implementation of our recommendations. As a priority, we are working on a new version of our mandate. Here is an idea of how we plan to deliver on this new mandate.
To start, we are in the midst of developing an enhanced response and support coordination program, otherwise known as a case management service. This program will provide better coordinated and broader support for Canadian Armed Forces members who have experienced sexual misconduct regardless of whether or not they have reported the incident. Members will have a single point of contact in this sexual misconduct response centre who will provide case management services, assistance in navigating both internal and external services or processes, in-person support, practical assistance in completing forms or victim impact statements, and accompaniment.
These services will be available to affected members, with consent, from the time of first disclosure until such time as they indicate that support is no longer required. The model is based on best practices in the field. In fact, we hired an external consultant with decades of experience in a parallel provincial victim support program to advise us. lt is also based on gaps identified in internal and external reviews of Canadian Armed Forces services available to victims and on consultations with retired and still-serving members who have experienced sexual misconduct.
We want to focus on ensuring that members are at the centre of our response and that their needs guide our actions. More information on this program will be available in the coming months as we continue to progress to the next stages of its implementation.
Secondly, the centre will also fund, through a contribution program, sexual assault centres located near the largest bases and wings in Canada to increase support options for victims of sexual assault outside the Canadian Armed Forces. This program is just getting underway.
Third, the centre will play an important role in guiding the national victims strategy, which is in the early stages of planning.
ln relation to providing independent, expert advice, SMRC has provided recommendations to CAF on a number of recent policy documents and on the content and process for developing the new policy on sexual misconduct. Other examples include membership in the sexual assault review program established by the Canadian Forces provost marshal to review unfounded cases of sexual assault, the provision of advice on cases of sexual misconduct within the military justice system or other complaint processes, and membership on numerous relevant working groups with CAF partners. These examples speak to CAF's increasing recognition of the need for and value of specialized advice related to sexual misconduct and to the increasing credibility of the sexual misconduct response centre. These types of engagements are essential to improving coordinated victim support services in direct accordance with Canada's defence policy, “Strong, Secure, Engaged”.
While I strive to work collaboratively with Canadian Armed Forces service providers, I remain committed to the centre's independence, as recommended in the external review in 2015. An external advisory council was established last year to enhance and support the centre's independence. In the last few months, the council was instrumental in providing expert advice and recommendations on important interim documents directly related to the implementation of Operation Honour and the external review authority's recommendations. These CAF documents include a clearer definition of sexual misconduct and a decision tree tool to guide members of the chain of command in responding to reported incidents.
An important inclusion in the decision tree is guidance on including, consulting and informing affected members at each step of the process. I'm impressed with the combined breadth of expertise on the external advisory council in the realms of victim support, legislation, policy and perpetrators, to name a few. I'm also impressed by their commitment to this work and the diligence with which they apply themselves to provide the advice we seek.
I believe that external advice and expertise is crucial to the success of the implementation of Op Honour as well as the centre's mandate. I encourage my team to seek outside advice and expertise as often as possible, which is why last December the SMRC hosted a forum on sexual misconduct where partners from the Five Eyes nations gathered for the first time to advance a common understanding of what is essential to improve support to victims of sexual misconduct within the military and to enhance prevention efforts. I was immediately invested in the forum because we had the incredible opportunity to exchange best practices on how to effectively address sexual misconduct in our respective organizations and how to best meet the needs of military members.
One of the best practices that came out of that forum was the importance of grounding our work within an evidence-based prevention framework. I recently hired an expert with many years of clinical research and administrative experience in the prevention, assessment and treatment of sexual misconduct. She will develop a comprehensive prevention plan and contribute to refining policy regarding perpetrators.
In terms of diversity, the StatsCan survey on sexual misconduct in the CAF indicated that members of the LGBTQ2 community are victimized at higher rates. SMRC staff have received specialized training from community agencies and are researching enhancements to service delivery to better meet the needs of these and other specialized groups.
In particular, they're considering whether the prevalence, circumstances, dynamics and impacts of sexual misconduct are different for these groups; whether they experience any unique barriers to reporting; and what service modifications might be necessary. The needs of diverse clients will be considered in the national victims support strategy that is under development. I am also seeking to add expertise on these issues to the membership of the external advisory council.
Finally, as we continue to identify and respond to developing trends by providing expert advice and monitoring CAF's efforts, my focus will remain on ensuring the provision of efficient, effective and compassionate support that is responsive to members' needs, helping them return to work in a healthy and respectful workplace.
Thank you for the opportunity to answer your question, Mr. Robillard.
We conduct surveys. We make sure that our recruiting personnel keep track of who is entering the Canadian Armed Forces.
The annual recruiting process corresponds to the financial year. Of those who have joined this year, 17.3% are women, 12.6% are members of visible minorities and 3.5% are indigenous. We are seeking to have those percentages increase, while keeping an eye on the current situation. As for the composition of our personnel, the Canadian Armed Forces has the following objectives: 25% women, 8.4% members of visible minorities and, by 2026, 2.9% indigenous.
We have other data that allow us to see where we are at the moment. Right now, the armed forces has 15.7% women. In the last two years, the number of women in the armed forces has increased by about 1,300. For indigenous people and members of visible minorities, the figures are 2.8% and 8.7% respectively. That is quite significant for us. We are measuring everything and keeping an eye on it all.
We have established a strategy to increase diversity in the Canadian Armed Forces. We have to maintain those percentages, but we also have to make sure that the policies in place support those people. That includes all kinds of things, including religious accommodation. For example, a woman who is currently in a training program at the Leadership and Recruit School at Saint-Jean, asked to be able to wear a niqab. She decided not to wear it, but she can wear something else to represent her religion. Members of the Sikh minority have the right to wear turbans. We provide them with accommodations so that they can continue training in the Canadian Armed Forces.
All this is in place in order to increase diversity, because it is important for us. The research that my human resources research and evaluation team is doing at the moment proves that it is possible to implement solutions for those who want to join the armed forces and to increase diversity therein.
I would like to add to that. Coming back to the meme that is circulating, of course, all those people who might have different careers, they all get the same pay. It's always been that way and it continues to be because we're conscious of not having any of those barriers, but thank you for your words.
I'll talk first of all about recruiting. We had three OAG reports that told us that we had to get better at recruiting. We took them seriously. We've created Operation Generation. Operation Generation is a very specific operation, on a yearly cycle, for domestic operations. I'm the supporting commander and I get access to the resources of the environments to come and get us to do this. Specifically we're going after the groups that we want to come and bring their talent to the forces.
You're going to see that in the fall. There's going to be a ship, probably HMCS Saint John, with a helicopter deck on board. They'll do a Great Lakes cruise and they'll go specifically to those areas along the Great Lakes, all the way down to Toronto and past there. We're going to go and attract people, to come and see what it is we're doing.
First and foremost, because we want to get those specialties into our ships, we'll make sure that the audiences we're bringing in to meet the ships, meet the crews and everything else will include women and visible minorities, so they can themselves get a chance to do a hands-on.
Oftentimes, the challenge comes down to letting people know what the opportunity is. That's why we have to focus a lot more on letting them know. To that end, we have created, again as part of the response to the OAG report, a new website for recruiting. I encourage you to go and see it at forces.ca. In there we emphasize that this is an organization that will accept any and all Canadians who want to serve. We make it very visible, not only in the imagery but in the explanation, and we demystify things that in the past have traditionally stopped people from joining.
How do you do the PFT test? This seemed to be something that caused people to self-select out of the process. They can see how it's done and realize just how well they can do it. With a number of women doing the test, they can actually see that they are good to go.
We have just released a DAOD, which is a departmental administrative order and directive, that talks about disabilities. We do have some folks with disabilities in the Canadian Armed Forces. Those are related mainly to how they learn, for example. Also, as you all know, if we have members who have been injured in operations—we've had quite a few who have successfully carried on, including people who have returned to active duty and to theatres of operations with prosthetic limbs and the like. Those are ways in which we do that, and we accommodate those types of individuals because, of course, there's value to doing that.
What we do have, however, is the concept that I've called universality of service. It is the aspect that gives us the right to not necessarily have the duty to accommodate in certain areas. The reason for that is that it's been proven in certain cases that there is a bona fide operational requirement for people to be able to do certain things.
For example, you need to be able to carry a load and to be mobile in order to help extricate somebody from a situation—it might be a burning vehicle, a damaged vehicle, a ship that's suffered something, an aircraft—and all of those things have been recognized by the courts to say that these are bona fide operational requirements. Somebody who showed up at a recruiting centre in a wheelchair, for example, would not be able to do those things. There's a recognition that the kind of duty that we perform is so demanding that you're going to be in combat at some point potentially in your career, and you need to be able to do these things because it's not only yourself at that point; it's also the rest of your team. We have been given that.
Universality of service calls upon you to maintain that capability throughout your career and to prove that you can. We sometimes make accommodations for folks who can't anymore, and those will be for a specific set period of time. That's either to get them ready to go back in if they can rehabilitate or, if they cannot, to enable them to do a proper transition. They then have the advantage of our transition group and that can be a process that can take up to six years depending on their desire to keep on working and whether or not we have a position for which, for example, we know they would not be required to go and deploy in an operational environment. We try to do that for as long as we can keep them.
In the cases of autism and everything else like that, folks have to pass a Canadian Forces aptitude test. It is a timed test that gives us an indication of the cognitive abilities of the individual, and their ability to learn. That's really what it comes down to because that's an important aspect. In a learning organization such as ours, people need to be able to understand and to comprehend complex weapons systems or procedures, so that we can then conduct operations.
I think it's a very good question.
The immediate phase one of Operation Honour—and this is my terminology and no one else's—was to address the problem right away. That was once again to implement the duty to report. We understand that has had some perhaps negative ramifications in some cases, but it was to actually physically stop, where possible, sexual misconduct, heighten the awareness of sexual misconduct, and put in place mechanisms to deal with it.
But what we didn't put in place is the cultural change model that we have been talking about just recently, which is to change those beliefs and attitudes.
I think we've reached a bit of an inflection point with the feedback we've received from our own internal assessment of the report from the Office of the Auditor General, so I'm confident now that we've entered a new phase. It's the beginning of a new phase where we have to look at coming up with a cultural change strategy. It will be informed by Dr. Preston. As Commodore Patterson mentioned, she's working on it right now to actually come up with, amongst many things, lines of effort and different ways to address this, and to measure it as we go forward.
What we found is the only way to measure cultural change in any aspect, not just sexual misconduct, is through anonymous surveys. We've only done one. We've administered a second one. We expect the results in May. That will be the true measure, quite frankly, of whether we're having success or not.
I can speculate, but we are putting performance measurement in place against which we can benchmark.
I appreciate that. Cultural change is just one. You have mentioned seven areas where there are deficiencies. I do want to point that out.
I don't know why it is, but for 20 or 25 years I've had to deal with the issue of the progress of women and sexual assault of women in different areas that I've had to work in. I found the model that works is leadership at the top incentives and accountability for the senior leadership team, establish base data and a way to measure progress, and then transparency and reporting. I hear some aspects of it, but I don't hear that model here.
On leadership at the top, I think we've established the problem has been recognized. I've mentioned incentives before. I think if we really want to push harder...I'm not seeing how that is actually going to ensure that we are going to achieve progress.
I know we can't have the same incentives as maybe the business world, where we can give bonuses, and people are evaluated and given more money, but maybe incentives could be provided. You don't progress in terms of your career if you're not achieving certain objectives that you're trying to achieve at a particular stage.
I would love to hear a little more about maybe some incentives, if there has been some thought to them, because I'm not sure we'll actually see the progress that we would love to be able to see unless we actually provide those types of incentives and accountability from the senior leadership team.
You talked a bit about the base data and having some difficulty even gathering some of that data, and then still trying to find a way to measure it.
Maybe I will pause here. I'm not sure who wants to address it, but I do have another seven minutes so I will be continuing with this line as we move forward.
Who wants to address that?
I'll start, and then perhaps Dr. Preston and everybody else can join in.
I completely agree with the points you've raised. Quite frankly, we're in the process of tackling them and thinking about them right now. In terms of leadership at the top, I agree that it's not just a matter of pushing harder, but I have to be very frank. When we're looking at general officers, it takes about 30 years to grow a general officer. This is not something where you can pull somebody up from 20 years or 30 years ago.
There are exceptions, but on average, when you become a brigadier general or a commodore, you're at the 27- to 31-year point. We've reached down very far to ensure that we're providing opportunities for all minority groups in the Canadian Forces, and I include women in there because they are in a minority percentage-wise. The chain of command is being held accountable to make sure we're examining every individual, to make sure we're not necessarily privileging them, because it is a meritocracy and it has to be a meritocracy, but that the same opportunities are afforded to everybody as they go forward.
The chain of command is being held accountable to that. There is complete buy-in, in the chain of command, that we need to do better and that we need to increase the proportion of not only women, but visible minorities as well across the Canadian Armed Forces.
In terms of measuring, I completely agree. We've only recently started collecting a lot of that data. OPHTAS just came online in October or September. That is new, and that is bespoke.
We are in the process of taking that limited data that we have and looking at ways of integrating that database with the military police database and a number of other databases, but respecting confidentiality all the way. That is in no way connected to the database that Dr. Preston maintains, because we need to maintain that independence.
We have to get better. We know that. We think we have a plan in place there.
Dr. Preston, do you want to add anything?
To build on what I said in the introductory comments, we're developing and implementing sort of a unified policy on sexual misconduct. In fact, this week—to give you an idea that progress is ongoing—the chief of the defence staff approved something called the Operation Honour manual, the Operation Honour decision tree and a forces-wide message that actually defines sexual misconduct. That may seem insignificant, but the definition of sexual misconduct is different to different organizations.
All those products were informed by Dr. Preston in a sense. She defined what the requirements were. They were then passed to Commodore Patterson and her team. I think they've been looking at these products for about four or five months. Then they were re-validated, if you will, given back to Dr. Preston to ask her, as an independent body, if this checks off and if this is what she were talking about.
That process has gone on. Dr. Preston may want to add to it. I think she even had the external advisory committee look at it, and then these documents have been issued to the Canadian Forces or are in the process of being issued. It might even be today or tomorrow; it's that fresh as we go forward.
These are incredibly important documents because they address some of the confusion surrounding what constitutes sexual misconduct. How do you deal with sexual misconduct? What is a simplified decision tree? We're used to that in the Canadian Forces, yes or no. You follow the decision tree down. That is sort of translating what Dr. Preston has given into military-speak, if you will, as we go forward. That's one example of some great work that has been done primarily by Dr. Preston's team and Commodore Patterson's team that will help us as we go forward. Once again, these are not perfect documents. We're going to circulate them, and we're going to take them for a test run. We'll get feedback on them and amend them accordingly as we go forward.
I talked about the campaign plan, and I don't want to underestimate the importance of that. We're used to doing that in the Canadian Armed Forces; that's how we communicate. When we want to effect change or when we want to do something hard and complex, we come up with a campaign plan. That's the way we communicate in the Canadian Armed Forces.
It is a campaign plan to address Operation Honour, of which cultural change will be one aspect. I know I'm dwelling on cultural change, but I'm most concerned about that because that's the hardest task we have coming forward. That's changing attitudes and beliefs, as I mentioned before, and that involves everything. That involves training, it involves education and it involves what we talked about, which is getting more women into leadership roles and more women into the Canadian Forces so we reach that critical mass and just hammer home that this behaviour is unacceptable and won't be tolerated.
Another big part is that performance measurement framework. I'm quite excited about OPHTAS, the Operation Honour tracking and analysis system. As I said, it's the first bespoke system. What we have to do is develop those linkages to the other databases, all the while making sure we're preserving, where necessary, the confidentiality of the reports. I stress once again that it is completely independent from the database that Dr. Preston has. Information will only be shared if Dr. Preston thinks it needs to be shared as we go forward, but there's no link in those particular databases.
We're going to need time to collate and collect this data as we go forward. As far as I know, it's probably one of the first bespoke data collection devices or methods that we've seen in the Five Eyes countries.
Finally, we're well on our way to doing this under Dr. Preston, expanding the mandate of the sexual misconduct response centre and clearly defining the roles of the particular organization. That is not finished yet. We are still working on the terms of reference for Dr. Preston's organization and Commodore Patterson's organization, which fall under me, so it's clearly understood who does what.
Getting back to your original question, I think that was one of the bigger obstacles we had initially in the last three years, that confusion over who does what.
General Wynnyk mentioned JAG, and we did ask to have JAG back because we have outstanding questions. We have asked on several occasions that the Auditor General be called in, or the Office of the Auditor General, given his illness, to give us a chance to question him about his report on inappropriate sexual behaviour in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Therefore, I would like to move the motion that I gave notice for on Tuesday:
That the Committee, as part of its study on diversity in the Canadian Armed Forces, hold no fewer than three additional meetings regarding Operation HONOUR and that the findings be published in a separate report to be tabled in the House.
The AG's report did find that Op Honour was severely lacking in providing proper support for the victims of inappropriate sexual behaviour, which includes crimes such as sexual assault, rape and harassment. Worse, in fact, the report found that Operation Honour was not even designed with victim support in mind and that the services they do offer are poorly coordinated. Even worse, the victims are often not even told there are support services available to them, despite the legal requirement to do so.
As we've heard, some do receive the direction, but others are still unaware of it.
The Auditor General also found out that after the implementation of Op Honour, the number of reported complaints of inappropriate sexual behaviour increased from 40 in 2015 to about 300 in 2017. That spike was not due to an increased level of confidence in the system, but rather, the duty to report, which Operation Honour introduced. We heard from Madame Deschamps that the centre was supposed to be able to receive both formal reports and reports or disclosures from victims who initially only wanted to be supported; but to add that duty to report, there were people whose cases were made known to the military police and the chain of command, and now they're facing the end of their careers or they're being constructively worked out of their careers.
For that very important reason, among not having quite enough information from the JAG and this being such a crucial element of being able to recruit and retain the people we already have in the military, as well as the confidence of those who might not have undergone an assault themselves but who are looking to see how their colleagues are being treated, I would like to have another three meetings on this very important topic so that we can reach our goal of 25% of women in the military and lead the way on United Nations resolution 1325.
As we've seen throughout this Parliament, a number of motions and studies that we have put forward have just been delayed and never reached again, or just as they're being moved or are to be discussed, somebody from the government moves a motion to start another study. It goes on and on, and the issue really never does get addressed.
I think it's very important that this be part of the study on diversity because the whole point of this is to ensure that we have diversity among the Armed Forces. We've heard that operationally this is required because, as we saw in Afghanistan, women can only talk to women, so there's a key role for women in the military when they go into different environments.
We have seen the Auditor General's report. However, we have not been able to speak to the Auditor General or anyone from his staff. We have a very in-depth report, but we as a committee still have to understand that and put it into our study so that we are realistically making progress and getting more women into the military. I think we may even be able to hear from a few more women—maybe one—and not just women but people who have left the military, so that we can better understand.
Saying that they're having these exit interviews or going on about what they suppose, the measures that are being taken or the trade shows they go to is really not enough of a strategy. We have to give the confidence to the women who are currently serving that if something of this nature happens, if they're violently attacked, not only are they going to get treated but their careers are going to be protected, and they won't have to be afraid of reprisals.
What we've seen so far, and what we've heard here, is that it is the victim who gets taken from her unit and denied the career path and the education that's supposed to be involved in going from, for example, basic training to their actual career line. If we don't make this part of the study, it will never get done. This is a delay tactic on the part of the government, and we need to move forward.