The Courier

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On December 5th, Statistics Canada released the results of the 2022 Survey on Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces (SSMCAF). The survey, which was conducted by Statistics Canada from October 11, 2022 to January 26, 2023, examined Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) member’s experiences in the 12 months preceding the survey, providing up-to-date data on the scope, prevalence, and nature of sexual misconduct in the CAF. More than 23,000 responses were collected from Regular Force and Primary Reserve CAF members. This represents 33% of the Regular Force and 17% of the Primary Reserve. This is the third survey in the series with previous versions being completed in 2016 and 2018.

This survey asked CAF members questions regarding their experiences of sexual misconduct, as well as sexualized and discriminatory behaviour within the workplace. It also asked questions about their knowledge and perception of policies and responses to sexual misconduct. This essential and important feedback deepens our understanding of the issues and will continue to inform our approach in addressing sexual misconduct.

Summary of key findings

Prevalence of sexual assault

 Compared to the results of the 2018 SSMCAF, rates of sexual assault have increased overall. These include rates of sexual attacks, unwanted sexual touching, and sexual activity where an individual was unable to consent.

  • Approximately 3.5% of Regular Force members and 3.4% of Primary Reservists were sexually assaulted in the military workplace or in an incident involving military members in the 12 months preceding the survey.
  • The most common type of sexual assault was unwanted sexual touching among Regular Force (3.3%) and Primary Reservists (3.1%).
  • Women (7.5%) experienced more sexual assault compared to men (2.8%) in the Regular Force. Compared to 2018, the sexual assault rate for men increased 2.5 times, while among women it increased 1.7 times.
  • Among Regular Force, members who are younger, Indigenous (5.1%), are living with a disability (5.9%), or whose sexual orientation is not heterosexual (8.8%) all reported higher levels of sexual assault.

Sexualized and discriminatory behaviours

 The rate of Regular Force members who experienced sexualized and discriminatory behaviours increased since the 2018 SSMCAF report. Rates for all 15 behaviours measured by the survey increased in 2022.

  • Regular Force members indicated that the most common sexualized behaviour witnessed or experienced was sexual jokes (61%), followed by inappropriate sexual comments (31%), and inappropriate discussion about sex life (29%).
  • 19% of Regular Force members personally experienced at least one of the behaviours measured by the survey (sexual jokes, unwanted sexual attention, repeated pressures for dates, etc.). This is an increase from 2018 (15%).
  • Women in the Regular Force (34%) were more likely than men (16%) to have experienced sexualized or discriminatory behaviour in the past 12 months. The same applies to members who are living with a disability (46% women; 25% men), are Indigenous (42% women; 20% men), and who are not heterosexual (45% women; 32% men).

Knowledge and Trust

 The 2022 SSMCAF indicates that sexual assault reporting continues to remain low with few members regularly reporting incidents or accessing available services and resources.

  • Reporting of sexual assault among Regular Force members decreased to 21% in 2022 compared with 25% in 2018. Meanwhile, there was an increase in reporting of sexualized or discriminatory behaviour with 34% in 2022 compared to 28% in 2018.
  • The most common reasons for not reporting sexual assault among Regular Force members was a belief that reporting would not make a difference (41%) or fear of negative consequences (35%).
  • 81% of Regular Force members who were sexually assaulted did not contact or use any services in at least one instance. Men (84%) more commonly did not consult or use services, compared to women (74%).
  • 80% of Regular Force members indicated that they were somewhat or very aware of programs, policies, and resources related to sexual misconduct, including the Respect in the CAF course (64% very aware), and services available through the Sexual Misconduct Support and Resource Centre (40% very aware).

The SSMCAF provides CAF members with an opportunity to share their experiences with sexual misconduct in the workplace, anonymously and without fear of repercussions. These data are critical to DND/CAF efforts to understand, prevent and address sexual misconduct, and build a healthier, safer and more inclusive workplace, free from harassment, discrimination and violence. In the coming months, DND/CAF will conduct an in-depth analysis of all the results and determine where we may need to adjust our efforts or implement a more focused approach. We know that we must fully understand and be open about the current situation if we want to continue to improve.

Linda Rizzo-Michelin, Chief Operating Officer, Sexual Misconduct Support and Resource Centre and Lieutenant-General Jennie Carignan, Chief, Professional Conduct and Culture spoke to the results of the report and the efforts that DND/CAF have made and will continue to take to prevent and address sexual misconduct within the organization.

They welcomed this independent study and emphasized that it is essential to ensure ongoing action, transparency, and accountability on sexual misconduct.

DND/CAF is committed to providing comprehensive and timely support to affected persons in a way that meets their individual needs and empowers them to come forward to seek support without fear of reprisal and/or further harm.

People affected by sexual misconduct and those who support them can contact the Sexual Misconduct Support and Resource Centre (SMSRC) 24/7 phone line at 1-844-750-1648 to get support, resources, and information. Members may also file complaints within DND/CAF through their chain of command or Conflict and Complaint Management Services (CCMS) or they can bring their complaint of sexual harassment or discrimination on the basis of sex directly to the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC).


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