News Release Article from  National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces

The Chief of the Defence Staff addresses Statistics Canada survey on Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces

November 28, 2016— Ottawa — National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

The Chief of the Defence Staff, General Jonathan Vance, today addressed the results of the Statistics Canada survey on Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

The volunteer survey, the first of its kind in the CAF, asked members about their experiences and their perceptions of sexual misconduct within the CAF. Conducted from April to June 2016, it used an online questionnaire distributed to Regular Force and Primary Reserve members.

More than 43,000 responses were collected from Regular Force and Primary Reserve CAF members, representing 53% of the CAF population.

The Statistics Canada survey provides support to the findings presented in the 2015 Deschamps Report. However, the scope of this survey extends far beyond the Deschamps Report by virtue of the number of respondents and the range of topics covered.

The survey gives CAF leadership and members a more detailed picture of the scope, prevalence and nature of the problem of sexual misconduct. Increasing this understanding is a key component of Operation HONOUR, which is based on two key principles:

  • Every man and woman who serves their country deserves to be treated with dignity and respect – anything less is simply unacceptable; and

  • Any attitudes or behaviours which undermine the cohesion and confidence of serving members threatens the morale and operational readiness of the CAF.

The survey results show that sexual assaults (unwanted sexual touching, sexual attack, and sexual activity to which the victim is unable to consent) are occurring at a rate well above that of the general Canadian population, and that discriminatory behavior continues to negatively affect many of our members.

Sexual assault

  • In the twelve months preceding the survey, 1.7% (or 960) Regular Force members reported that they were victims of sexual assault in the military workplace or involving military members. Unwanted sexual touching was the most common form of sexual assault, reported by 1.5% (or 840) Regular Force members.

  • Women in the Regular Force were more likely than men to be sexually assaulted (4.8% versus 1.2%) in the twelve months preceding the survey.

Sexualized and discriminatory behaviours

  • 79% members of the Regular Forces saw, heard, or were personally targeted by sexualized behaviour in the military workplace or involving military members, Department of National Defence employees, or contractors.

  • Sexual jokes were the most common type of sexualized behavior in the workplace, witnessed or experienced by 76% of Regular Force members.

Knowledge and perception of policies and responses to sexual misconduct

  • The vast majority of Regular Force members were somewhat or very aware of Operation HONOUR (98%).

  • 81% of Regular Force members strongly agreed that complaints about inappropriate sexual behavior are (or would be) taken seriously in their current unit, while 78% agree that inappropriate behavior is not tolerated in their unit.

The results of this survey will serve as a benchmark against which Operation Honour can be measured. The CAF is analyzing the survey results and developing an action plan that will enhance continuing efforts to support and assist victims, increase awareness and understanding of the nature of harmful and inappropriate sexual behavior, and effect lasting culture change.

Quotes

“CAF members have responded in unprecedented numbers about their experience and perceptions of inappropriate sexual behavior, discrimination and sexual assault within the Canadian Armed Forces. This information is critical for all of us to understand the true scope and nature of the problem in our institution, and as well the challenges members continue to face and where we must realign our action plan in order to achieve the mission of Operation HONOUR and ensure a workplace free from harassment and discrimination.

“Harmful sexual behaviour is a real and present threat to our institution. Those who commit such acts are betraying the values of the country they are sworn to defend. The information in this survey will give us a better understanding of the scope and nature of the problem, allowing us to target our efforts under Operation HONOUR to eliminate this behaviour.”

General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff

“While it is sobering and disappointing to know that members continue to be victimized and feel threatened in our work environment, this survey provides us with the specific evidence we need to focus our efforts on culture change and  to eliminate the threat these behaviours represent to the Profession of Arms.”

Chief Warrant Officer Kevin West

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Note to editors:

Link to the Statistics Canada Survey on Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces

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Media Relations
Department of National Defence
Phone: 613-996-2353
Toll-Free: 1-866-377-0811
Email: mlo-blm@forces.gc.ca


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