The Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) are committed to building an inclusive and respectful workplace, free from sexual misconduct. As we work towards this goal, we must acknowledge and seek to understand the wrongs experienced by those affected by sexual misconduct in our workplace, so that we can make meaningful changes to the aspects of our institutional culture that contribute to harm.
Today, Defence Minister Anita Anand amended the Queen’s Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Forces (QR&O) to create an exception to the duty to report regulations in the context of a restorative engagement program. Currently, this exception only applies to the Restorative Engagement program for the CAF-DND Sexual Misconduct Class Action Final Settlement Agreement.
The Restorative Engagement program enables class members to share their experiences, knowledge and/or understanding of sexual misconduct in the DND/CAF workplace and provide ideas on how to achieve positive and enduring institutional culture change. Class members have indicated that the duty to report poses challenges to the success of the Restorative Engagement program. The duty to report would require the CAF Defence representatives who have volunteered to listen, acknowledge and learn from class members’ experiences, to report incidents of wrongdoing, regardless of whether the affected person is ready or wants to report them.
DND/CAF acknowledges that confidentiality is a critical component of any restorative process, and it is hoped that this amendment will help build trust between all involved and enable all participants to have honest and open conversations. This amendment does not limit a class member’s ability to report their own experiences of sexual misconduct; it removes the legal obligation of CAF members to report in the context of restorative engagement.
The duty imposed on CAF members to report all incidents of sexual misconduct has been identified as a critical area for reform by subject matter experts, external reviewers, public service employees, people affected by sexual misconduct and CAF members. DND/CAF is currently working towards addressing the duty to report issue on a broader basis, as per the recommendations identified in the Third Independent Review of the National Defence Act.