Throughout the remaining months of 2019, the Ombudsman will be continuing visits to bases across Canada. The visits are part of an outreach program to meet the local community and listen to any of ongoing concerns.
In order to best allow each group to address their specific issues, the Ombudsman meets separately with the junior and senior ranks of commissioned and non-commissioned members, public servants, and the local support networks, including social workers, padres, and medical staff.
There is also time allotted to meet with military families during these visits. Military spouses can meet the Ombudsman in an informal setting, with childcare and refreshments provided. The meeting is designed to help the Ombudsman hear directly of the issues faced by military families, and are usually held at the local MFRC.
During his visit, the Ombudsman is able to gain a better appreciation for the issues affecting constituents. The concerns raised can often result in new cases for his office, or depending on the nature of the issue, a systemic investigation.
The visits are also intended to allow the local Defence community to learn more about what role of the Ombudsman’s office.
Mr. Andrew Bernardo, director of communications and parliamentary affairs, has explained that “these outreach activities are truly invaluable for our office. We get the ‘on the ground truth’ that many within both military and civilian chains of command simply don’t get.
“We have the capacity to take complaints in person after these events, and we usually schedule a call-back for those individuals from one of our staff,” he added.
“However, we encourage our constituents to reach out to us in the best way they see fit, whenever they need. This can be done by calling our 1-800 number, through our online chat function, by submitting a complaint form online or even booking an appointment for us to call them when it is most convenient.
“We pride ourselves on our commitment to confidentiality, and no private information is ever provided to the Department of National Defence or the Canadian Armed Forces without the express written consent of the individual.”
Although there will be additional outreach activities throughout 2020, the current dates set for Ombudsman visits in 2019 are:
CFB Petawawa – October 1-4, 2019
CFB Shilo – November 19-22, 2019