Above image: Last year’s Seamless Canada round table participants. This year members met virtually due to COVID-19. Image courtesy of CAF.
The Department of National Defence (DND), Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), and Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services met virtually with representatives and participants from Canada’s provinces and territories on December 8th and 9th to discuss the department’s Seamless Canada initiative.
In support of Canada’s defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged (SSE), DND and CAF launched Seamless Canada in 2018 to improve services to CAF members and their families when they move to a different province or territory. There have been two additional meetings since then, in December 2018 and June 2019.
Challenges related to accessing health care, spousal employment, childcare, and education remain the most pressing. Accessing local health care upon relocation is an issue affecting the greatest number of military family members across Canada.
In relation to this, Vice-Admiral Haydn Edmundson, Commander of Military Personnel Command commented, “Moving is difficult for military members and their families even under the best of circumstances and the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed even greater challenges. I am committed to ensuring that CAF members and their families have access to the services they need when they are posted across the country; this is what we must do in support of great Canadians who serve their nation regardless of the mission.”
This year, due to COVID-19 protocols, representatives and participants from provinces and territories participated virtually in the fourth roundtable.
In his opening address, Harjit S. Sajjan, minister of national defence, put emphasis on the continued work that needs to be done to support military families and improve their quality of life, no matter where they live in Canada.
“Supporting Canadian Armed Forces members and their families has always been our top priority. It is why we will continue to work together with our provincial and territorial partners to ease the challenges and stresses that they face. And we know that the COVID-19 pandemic has made the relocation for military postings for members and their families even more challenging. The work that Seamless Canada will continue to do shows our enduring commitment to support our members and their families whenever they need to relocate,” he stated.
General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff, also addressed delegates at the start of the second day.
Over the two days, the conference introduced a proposed Terms of Reference for a Seamless Canada Steering Committee and examined opportunities to improve co-ordination with respect to services supporting CAF spousal employment, health care insurance applications, virtual health care, childcare, and youth education. Provinces and Territories also shared initiatives that they had taken to support CAF members being posted to their jurisdictions.
The Seamless Canada virtual roundtable held on December 8 and 9, 2020, was hosted through the Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat. It is an impartial agency whose mandate is to provide administrative support and planning services for federal-provincial-territorial and provincial-territorial conferences of first ministers, ministers, and deputy ministers throughout Canada.