Gregory Lick, the Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), was in Moose Jaw this week holding a series of town halls to speak with constituents.
While the Ombudsman’s office is based in Ottawa, he has constituents across the country and abroad, including current and former members of the Canadian Forces and Cadets, employees of the Department of National Defence, and their families.
The Ombudsman’s office seeks to be impartial in confidential complaints raised by constituents and assist in their fair resolution. “We’re a neutral and objective group. When people come to us with a complaint, we simply don’t take their side of the story. We look at all sides of the story.”
He said that complainant identities are kept confidential, but if their personal information is needed to address an issue, written consent is required.
The Ombudsman’s office aims to understand all sides of a situation and determine if a constituent was treated fairly. “Once they’ve been treated unfairly, as we determine, then we become much more of an advocate for them to get fair treatment.”
Preventing problems from happening in the first place is also something that his office deals with, so part of what they do is aim to get information out before issues happen. Some concerns addressed by his office include those that arise when being posted to different bases, access to medical services, benefits, issues during release from or recruitment to the CAF, or harassment.
Lick participated in eight town halls in Moose Jaw between January 15th and 18th to let constituents know about the purpose of the Ombudsman. Meetings took place with junior and senior Non-Commissioned Officers, Officers, Military Family Resource Centre staff, public service employees, and the Saskatchewan Dragoons Reserve Unit.
Lick said that 15 Wing has a number of junior members who are starting out in their careers. “They probably have a few different issues in terms of gaining awareness of what their benefits are, gaining awareness of what their work life might be like into the future, [and] the stresses they go though as they try to become a pilot.”
“It is a very stressful time for them, so they’re living a few different issues maybe than a regular operations space.”
The Ombudsman’s office responded to 132 complaints between Manitoba and Saskatchewan from 2022-2023.
Constituents looking for assistance can reach out to the Ombudsman’s office in a variety of ways. You can click here to find their website and a list of contact options.