Written by Mishall Rehman and Genevieve Trudeau Senecal
Though no concrete details have emerged as of yet, the Department of National Defence (DND) has assured military families that their input and suggestions will be taken into consideration as the government formulates the new defence policy.
Earlier this year, the DND received more than 20,000 suggestions through social media and an online consultation portal during the public consultations for Canada’s new defence policy. Among the suggestions, recognizing and supporting military families was a common theme across the country.
“Military families are the backbone of our great institution; something which Minister Sajjan certainly knows first-hand. As we move forward analyzing what we heard during the public consultations, we will absolutely take military families, and the MFRC’s feedback into consideration. We remain fully committed to working with military families and providing them with the care and support that they deserve, and thank them for all the work they do to support our soldiers and veterans,” said Jordan Owens, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of National Defence.
According to the DND, support for military families was a concern that was echoed by many of the town halls held by local members of parliament, many of which were attended by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.
Also during the public consultation period, every MFRC across the country banded together to submit a formal brief to the DND for consideration.
Dany St-Laurent, director of communications Valcartier Family Centre, where the movement started as part of a meeting with all MFRCs directors, last May noted, “if the minister’s office is ‘fully committed to working with military families’, then we ask that they formally commit to include families their new defence policy.”
Mr. St-Laurent emphasized the fact the word ‘family’ was included in one occasion, near the end of the last policy, in 1994, with regards to lowering the frequency of military personnel move, which would also be financially helpful for the state.
The group is hoping the next policy will include an actual chapter on military families, recognizing its importance in maintaining an efficient armed force organization. By doing so, they hope the government will recognize the services offered by MFRCs across the country and commit to helping the organizations financially in ensuring the health and security of Canadian military families.
The 31 MFRCs across the country offer services to an estimated 425,000 military family members for a shared annual budget of $27M.
The policy will also take into consideration suggestions from allies, experts, and key stakeholders.
The new defence policy is expected to be released early 2017.