Earlier this year, the Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, announced the Government of Canada’s undertaking of a defence policy review based on public consultations. In light of this, Military Family Resource Centres (MFRC) across the country have banded together to send their input to ensure the voice of military families is heard.
“Canadian military families have clearly shown their significant contribution through the past thirty years of military operations. They make a direct contribution to operational efficiency and for this reason must be recognized in the evolving policies of defence as an integral and vital part of the CAF and must be supported by all levels of government through the Military Family Resource Centres (MFRC), governed by and for families.” states the brief from the MFRCs submitted to the Department of National Defence (DND).
The 30 MFRCs across the country have formally requested that military families are included in the next defence policy “as an integral and essential part of the mission of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).” They’ve also asked for MFRCs to be officially recognized as service providers for military families; for the government and DND to prove their commitment to military families through concrete actions such as initiating dedicated programs or pouring additional funding into current programs.
The MFRCs have also requested that the government, “Develop, through the implementation of an intergovernmental cell, a strategy related to the support and to issues facing military families, and to see to its adoption and signing by the Prime Minister, federal ministers and the provincial premiers, in order that military families may receive support by all levels of government.”
The MFRCs have based their requests on the study of previous defence policy where the importance of military families was not noted. The 1994 white paper on defence mentions military families once while the Canada First Defence Strategy of 2013 does not mention military families at all.
“This major source of support strength represented by military families who sacrifice much for a military career, not to mention the supreme sacrifice paid by many families, must be officially recognized in the next Defence policy as being an inseparable element,” added the brief.
In contrast, other allied countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, have specific initiatives on a government level to recognize and support military families.
The recognition of the contribution military families make is especially important considering that the CAF has been on continuous operations around the world since the early 1990s, yet there’s been an increase in budget cuts that directly impact MFRCs and military families. The brief notes that the Government of Canada needs to understand that the wellbeing of military families directly impacts the success of military operations, and the retention rates of military members.
“The next Defence White Paper will be incomplete and not reflective of the reality facing the Canadian Armed Forces without the addition of military families, of veterans and their families who have contributed directly to the mission of the CAF and its operational efficiency. Hence, they participate directly in the contribution Canada makes both at home and abroad,” stated the brief.
To learn more about the Defence Policy review or to submit your input visit the Government of Canada website
Photo taken by: MCpl Shilo Adamson