JOINT STATEMENT – CAF commits to measures to address and prevent sexual assault and discrimination

May 15, 2024 — Ottawa, Ontario — The Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Canadian Armed Forces

Today, the Canadian Human Rights Commission (Commission) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) are making public the remedies of the first human rights settlement since the implementation of the Honourable Louise Arbour’s Independent External Comprehensive Review (IECR) recommendations 7 and 9 in August 2023.

The complainant, a CAF member, turned to the Commission after being sexually assaulted in military housing during an overseas mission. The conciliation process between the complainant and the CAF led to a commitment to measures that will increase personnel safety, and improve support for victims when accessing military medical services.

This settlement is the first of its kind since the Honourable Louise Arbour tabled the IECR report and recommendations in 2022. Former Justice Arbour’s recommendations are intended to make a tangible difference for survivors of sexual misconduct, and to bring about a significant culture change for CAF members. As announced by the Minister of National Defence in August 2023, military personnel can turn to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, without having to use internal CAF processes, to report and seek redress for sexual harassment or discrimination on the basis of sex or involving an allegation of retaliation for reporting sexual harassment or discrimination on the basis of sex.

The settlement includes, namely, the following measures:

  • Enhanced personal security of CAF members, both in Canada and overseas.
  • The availability of forensic kits and the presence of qualified medical personnel during overseas deployments.
  • Support and treatment for CAF members who experience sexual assault.
  • Ongoing commitment to sexual misconduct prevention training.

The Commission applauds the courage of the Complainant and the receptiveness of the Respondent. CAF also acknowledges the resilience of the Complainant. The Commission and CAF are mindful that other CAF members are suffering in silence, and we encourage them to seek support to alleviate their suffering. Both organizations wish to prevent sexual assault from happening to any other CAF members. The terms and conditions agreed upon by the parties as part of this agreement are aimed at this common goal of bringing about systemic change and are informed by the Complainant’s experience.

As a result of this settlement agreement, many CAF members will benefit from the Complainant’s process with the Canadian Human Rights Commission and their demands for better protection of the safety and well-being of CAF members. This complaint has and will continue to lead to positive change.

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Additional information

As part of our complaint process, the Commission strives to ensure that survivors do not have to tell their story more than once. In addition, complaints staff receive ongoing training in trauma-informed approaches, all forms of systemic discrimination and intersecting discrimination.

The Commission used a trauma-informed approach that was centered on the victim and on their experience. The complaint was resolved through the Commission's conciliation process. The parties agreed to make public the systemic remedies of this agreement, which includes the publication of this statement for which the Complainant gave their consent.


Canadian Human Rights Commission

If you are a member of CAF looking to file a complaint with the Commission, you can contact us:

Sexual Misconduct Support and Resource Centre (SMSRC):

The SMSRC offers support services to current and former Canadian Armed Forces members affected by sexual misconduct as well as their families aged 16 and older. Support services are also offered to National Defence public service employees, Cadets and Junior Canadian Rangers affected by sexual misconduct and their families, aged 16 and older.

You can contact them to speak confidentially with a trained support counsellor, in either official language, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also request a dedicated coordinator who can walk you through your process, accompany you on appointments, help you with proceedings, or help you with any workplace arrangements you may need.

Here is how to contact the SMSRC:

Media contacts

Canadian Human Rights Commission


Department of National Defence


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