Military and defence employees can use federal human rights system to challenge sexual misconduct

Tuesday, May 23, 2023 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission

One year after the release of Honourable Louise Arbour's recommendations, Charlotte Anne Malischewski, Interim Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, issues the following statement:

It has been nearly one year since the Honourable Louise Arbour tabled her comprehensive report and recommendations. Justice Arbour's recommendations aim to make a tangible difference for survivors of sexual misconduct and to deliver meaningful culture change for members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and employees of the Department of National Defence (DND).

The Canadian Human Rights Commission wholeheartedly supports all of Justice Arbour's recommendations, which have been accepted by the Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence. The Commission particularly welcomes the three recommendations that relate specifically to the federal human rights system. These recommendations are meant to ensure that CAF members experiencing sexual harassment or discrimination can choose to bring their complaint directly to the Commission, without restriction, delay or repercussion. Specifically, the three recommendations call for the Canadian Armed Forces to no longer object to the Commission assessing any complaint for sexual harassment, or for discrimination based on sex.

As part of its complaint process, the Commission strives to ensure that survivors do not have to re-tell their story multiple times. In addition, employees responsible for handling complaints receive ongoing training on trauma-informed approaches, all forms of systemic discrimination, and intersecting forms of discrimination.

The Commission has decades of experience handling these types of complaints. With CAF and DND agreeing to eliminate barriers barring their staff from bringing their complaint directly to us, we hope this will help people access human rights justice swiftly.

We look forward to the full implementation of Justice Arbour's recommendations, including removing the cap on remedies that the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal can award, as well as properly resourcing both the Tribunal and the Commission.

The Commission is here for military members through this process.

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