Recently the media has reported on sexual harassment, sexual assault and discrimination on the grounds of sex, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation in the Canadian military. The barriers to reporting such experiences have been acknowledged and include fear of retaliation or consequences to professional development.
The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF)–Department of National Defence (DND) Sexual Misconduct Class Action Settlement, approved by the Federal Court on Nov. 25, 2019, will provide financial compensation to current and former members of the CAF, current and former civilian employees, and staff of Non-Public Funds, Canadian Forces. It also provides the option for participation in a restorative engagement program to share personal experiences and effect change in CAF and Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) eligibility for disability benefits.
If you experienced sexual assault, harassment or discrimination and are one of the above eligible persons, you may submit a claim and possibly become eligible for part of the settlement. To apply, you must submit a claim before Nov. 24, 2021. Information and the application can be found at https://www.caf-dndsexualmisconductclassaction.ca/. The application can be completed online or downloaded. For more information, call 1-888-626-2611.
VAC has recently updated several policies, clarifying its approach for claims for disability benefits arising from military sexual assault and harassment. Acknowledging that experiences are not always reported, it has determined that disability entitlement may be established based on the individual’s evidence, without need for corroborating evidence, and that a claim for sexual trauma will not be rejected solely on the basis that it happened off CAF property or at a military event that the individual was not required or ordered to attend.
For assistance to apply to VAC, to appeal or request a reconsideration of a previous denial for VAC benefits, for a mental or physical condition related to sexual assault, harassment or discrimination, a professional Command Service Officer is available to assist you. Please call 1-877-534-4666, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or locate a Command Service Officer at https://www.legion.ca/support-for-veterans/contact-a-service-officer.