This was announced jointly on Wednesday by the Department of National Defense and Veterans Affairs Canada.
In a press release, the two organizations specified that this platform will take the form of discussion forums. It will not only be offered to current and former members of the Canadian Armed Forces, but also to employees of the Department of National Defense and their families.
Through these forums, the Department of National Defense and Veterans Affairs Canada aim to create
a safe space that will promote peer-to-peer contact, mental resilience, and well-being among people who have had experiences of sexual misconduct.
Although these discussion spaces are hosted on a third-party platform, the press release ensures that this
offers confidentiality, anonymity and clinical monitoring.
Defense Minister Anita Anand indicated that this new tool would be
secure, confidential and user-friendly.
It is with these comprehensive support services […] and other expanded services, such as independent legal advice, that we can ensure Defense Team members have the resources they need and deserve on their recovery journey.added Anita Anand.
Peer support will not only happen through this forum. Chat, texting and in-person support (individual or group) will also be in place.
once the Sexual Misconduct Response Center has hired and trained peer helpers.
The problem increasingly addressed
Revelations of sexual misconduct have multiplied in the ranks of the Canadian Armed Forces in recent years.
In 2018, Statistics Canada conducted a survey regarding sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces Regular Force.
In this regard, 1.6% of the members of this division, or approximately 900 people, had declared having been the victim of a sexual assault, with women being four times more assaulted than their male colleagues.
Last year, thousands of people filed for class action seeking restitution from Ottawa as victims of sexual misconduct.
Last month, former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbor filed a damning report regarding the handling of sexual misconduct in the military, saying major structural reforms were due.
Minister Anand then assured that she supported the 48 recommendations made in the report.
Among the report’s recommendations:
- Revision of the definitions of
sexual misconductand D’
sexual assaultby the Canadian Armed Forces;
- Redirect sexual offense prosecutions to civilian criminal courts;
- Strengthen the Sexual Misconduct Response Center to become a resource center only for complainants, victims and survivors of sexual misconduct and ensure that there is adequate expertise and sufficient capacity .
Privacy is an important issue for victims of sexual misconduct. Last week, Ottawa was called upon to act against a growing number of breaches of the privacy of victims from the Canadian Armed Forces.