Optimism after historic apology to military sexual misconduct survivors

PSAC and UNDE are optimistic the government will make a genuine, concerted effort to right the wrongs of decades of sexual harassment, abuse and workplace harassment at the Department of National Defence and in Canada’s military following a public apology by Minister of National Defence Anita Anand December 13.

“We thank Minister Anita Anand for making this apology, and for including civilian employees of the Department of National Defence and of the Non-Public Funds in her remarks,” said June Winger, national president of the Union of National Defence Employees. “We expect that this apology, and the solutions that have been promised, extend to all employees in National Defence workplaces, including those who work for private contractors and the employees of the Communications Security Establishment. Their contributions, and the harms that they have experienced, must not be excluded.”

Minister Anand also courageously heeded the recommendation of former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour, who is leading the external review into sexual misconduct, to ensure that all incidences of sexual harassment, abuse and workplace harassment be investigated and prosecuted in the civilian justice system. This is a progressive and responsive approach, and it provides us with hope for the rest of the recommendations that will be released in the spring of 2022. PSAC has already met with Mme Arbour and is confident that her recommendations, if enacted, will lead to positive solutions.

“We’re pleased that this government has finally pledged to address the systemic and toxic workplace conditions in Canada’s military,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC national president. “We anticipate learning more about these changes and expect meaningful consultation and participation in the change process – change that must occur at all levels of the department and the Canadian Armed Forces that will better protect our members and all military workers.”

“PSAC members who work for, or who have worked for National Defence or who are or have been members of the Forces, regularly put service before self, and have shown courage and bravery throughout the history of the department and the forces” added Winger. “It is beyond time they are respected and protected by the very department that they serve. We expect no less. We appreciate that Minister Anand has started her time as Minister with strength and authenticity.”

While the deadline to apply for inclusion in the class action settlement has passed, those who have extenuating circumstances may still be able to apply. See the details.

Discussions of sexual harassment, abuse and workplace harassment can lead to difficult emotions and reactions. If you are seeking help, there are resources available.


December 15, 2021