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Relocation in the news, November 2016

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Job dissatisfaction and repeated moves to new locations across the country are the top reasons behind Canadian Forces personnel leaving the military, according to a report obtained by the Ottawa Citizen.

The examination of what prompts staff to leave comes as the Canadian Forces faces a shortage of soldiers and difficulties recruiting new personnel.

The briefing on retention of military staff, provided last year to Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jon Vance, outlined the top reasons for those in uniform to leave.

A desire for “geographic stability” was the main reason, followed by “job dissatisfaction,” according to the briefing obtained by the Citizen under the Access to Information law. Other reasons included the need for more pay and benefits as well as military personnel having issues with senior or unit level leadership.

Brian J. Gavriloff / Edmonton Journal

Brian J. Gavriloff / Edmonton JournalNot only are soldiers quitting, but the Canadian Forces are finding it difficult to recruit new ones.

The briefing for Vance noted that at least 10,000 military personnel are moved in their jobs or relocated to another part of the country each year. Those moves come at a cost to taxpayers.

Having to deploy on military missions overseas was only mentioned by a small number of those surveyed as a reason for leaving.

Military personnel privately say that the upheaval caused by moving families regularly, as well as the isolated nature of some bases and the lack of job opportunities for spouses, make staying in uniform difficult.

Department of National Defence spokeswoman Suzanne Parker said the military is in the process of developing a revitalized strategy for retaining staff.

“It will ensure that retaining qualified and competent members in uniform is a fundamental aspect of how we manage our people,” Parker stated Monday in an email. “”We will review and adjust or develop policies, programs and activities as required that reflect the evolving needs of our members and their families while ensuring that we maintain our operational focus.”

It is not their choice where they have to go, so to they shouldn’t be paying for it and that’s where we see the unfairness that needs to be addressed

In January, a DND report tabled in the Commons outlined problems retaining staff and recruiting. The military has said it needs more than 4,000 new recruits each year just to offset attrition and keep 68,000 full-time troops in uniform.

But the January report noted that in 2015 the Forces was facing a shortage of nearly 1,900 regular force members and 5,300 reservists. That was because of higher than expected attrition and “challenges in meeting recruiting quotas” for reservists.

Military leaders have talked in the past about reducing the number of times personnel must relocate.

In 2013, then Canadian Forces ombudsman Pierre Daigle also raised the issue, noting his concern about the stress, financial or otherwise, being placed on military families by such moves.

Daigle recommended the military rethink how often it needed to transfer soldiers and uproot their families as part of its “operational requirements.” Moving staff every year is expensive for taxpayers and can impose major personal and financial hardships on military families, he noted.

“Why do we move people so much and how many times do we have to move?” Daigle said in a 2013 interview with the Citizen. “Yes, they need operational capacity and people have to be moved, but when they are moved for operational requirements, it is not their choice where they have to go, so to they shouldn’t be paying for it and that’s where we see the unfairness that needs to be addressed.”


Written by Major Marcus Brauer

November 2, 2016 at 20:11

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