Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Finance

Issue 17 - Evidence


OTTAWA, Thursday, October 29, 1998

The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance met this day at 11:00 a.m. to examine the Main Estimates laid before Parliament for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1999 (retention and compensation in the Public Service of Canada).

Senator Terry Stratton (Chairman) in the Chair.

[English]

The Chairman: I would like to call the meeting to order. Thank you for attending the sixth meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, to study organizational retention and compensation in the federal Public Service of Canada.

We have with us today from the Department of National Defence Mr. Jim Judd, Deputy Minister, and General Maurice Baril, Chief of the Defence Staff. They are accompanied by Monique Boudrias, Assistant Deputy Minister, Human Resources, Civilian; Major-General Christian Couture, Acting Assistant Deputy Minister, Human Resources, Military; and Guy Parent, Canadian Forces Chief Warrant Officer.

Last fall, we developed concerns and, as a result, we decided to conduct an in-depth study to examine this important issue. To date we have held five meetings and heard from a wide range of people including the President of the Treasury Board, the Clerk of the Privy Council, the President of the Public Service Commission, the Auditor General, the Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Senior Level Retention and Compensation, as well as the unions.

Mr. Judd, General Baril, please proceed. After that, I would like to put into perspective our reasons for selecting the Department of National Defence.

[Translation]

Mr. Jim Judd, Deputy Minister, Department of National Defence: Mr. Chairman, thank you for inviting us to speak to the committee this morning about our human resources. I would like to start with some opening remarks in order to give you an overview of our situation.

I have distributed to committee members some figures which will give you a more accurate idea of our circumstances. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

[English]

After Revenue Canada and Human Resources Development Canada, we are the third-largest employer of public servants in the federal government. Today, our current civilian workforce is about 20,000 people, approximately 13,000 less than it was four years ago. With the reduction in military personnel this decade, our organization has been through the largest public or private sector downsizing that I am aware of in this country.

Our civilian workforce, like our military colleagues, is dispersed throughout the country. Some civilian members are even posted outside of the country, although certainly not to the same extent as the Canadian Forces personnel.

About 22 per cent of our civilian workforce is located in the National Capital Region, but the majority, 78 per cent, is located across the country in every province and territory. Approximately 90 per cent of the workforce is unionized. Our workers are represented by 11 different unions, four of which are unique to the Department of National Defence. Our relations with our unions have historically been quite good. However, it is also fair to say that they have become increasingly frayed lately because of three factors. The first is the issue of pay equity, which is of direct interest to about 5,000 of our current employees and about 15,000 former employees. The second is the impasse in collective bargaining with the Public Service Alliance of Canada, our largest union. Finally, the third is the continuing thrust in the organization towards change and downsizing.

The civilian workforce is heavily blue collar. Approximately 70 per cent of our employees are in the operational and administrative support categories. However, there are some notable and interesting exceptions in our workforce, including university administrators, professors, as well as quite a number of defence scientists who do research and development work for us.

Compared to the size of the overall workforce, our executive category representation is very small, about 60 people at present. That is partially because of a degree of civil military integration in the organization. In other words, many military personnel supervise civilian personnel and, to a lesser extent, the reverse also exists.

The graphs I had produced for this morning's session are largely self-explanatory with respect to our demographic circumstances. There are probably two points worth mentioning about them. One, our civilian population is a little older than the public service average. Second, our civilian workforce is generally less representative of the Canadian diversity than the public service at large. Both circumstances are principally attributable to the results of a decade of constant downsizing, and consequentially relatively little in the way of recruitment in the organization.

On the recruitment front, we face many of the same challenges as does the rest of the public service in respect to the recruitment of certain categories of employees. The information technology group is probably the best example where the competition with the private sector is pretty intense. We have put in some innovative recruitment programs which, so far, seem to be working quite well. Some of those programs are aimed at university graduates who are brought in as policy interns; others are designed to bolster our capacity in the purchasing group.

At the executive level, we have been active participants in the government-wide programs launched as part of La Relève. A few people inside the organization are participants in the program, and some of our own personnel have been successful in finding assignments outside of the organization as well.

I have a few concluding points about challenges and future directions. At the moment, it is our view that, over the course of the future, we are probably looking at a still smaller civilian workforce as a consequence of further rationalization and other initiatives aimed at increasing effectiveness and economies of operation. We will probably continue to see a continuation of the trend towards a balance in the direction of white-collar, policy-oriented personnel, as opposed to blue-collar administrative support personnel.

Finally, we will be spending much more time and effort this year or next on the issue of personnel management, given that much of our staff will probably be turning over during the course of the next five years or so.

General Maurice Baril, Chief of the Defence Staff, Department of National Defence: To carry out our mission of defending Canada and the Canadian interests and values while contributing to international peace and security, the Canadian Forces need quality people at all levels. If we cannot recruit and retain quality people, we will not be able to meet the high standards we have traditionally met in fulfilling that mission.

That is why I was pleased to learn that this committee was looking into matters concerning the recruitment, retention and compensation of our people, and why I welcome the opportunity to appear before you today.

I have with me today a small team of experts on compensation and benefit, recruiting, senior appointment and posting. General Couture is Associate Deputy Minister, Human Resources. Mr. Parent, a Canadian Forces Chief Warrant Officer, is my advisor on everything and anything that concerns the 48,000 non-commissioned members of the regular forces.

[Translation]

Although I will focus my remarks on issues concerning our senior officers -- those of the rank of colonel and above -- I have to emphasize that the issues you are looking at are important to all members of the Canadian Forces, be they corporals or generals, able seamen or admirals. The bottom line is the same at all rank levels; if we want to attract and retain good people, we must make their quality of life and well-being our top priority.

Before getting into specifics, let me give you some brief institutional context. During the 1990s, and in the past four years in particular, the Canadian Forces have been engulfed by change that can fairly be described as tumultuous.

[English]

By 1999, the defence budget will have been cut by 23 per cent and personnel strength by 32 per cent. Entire levels of headquarters will have been eliminated and many bases closed. Functions will have changed or disappeared altogether. When all is said and done, the face of the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence will barely resemble that of the cold war defence establishment that preceded it.

As part of our change program, we have reduced the number of regular and reserve general and flag officers from 125 in 1991 to our present total of 66 in the regular force and 9 in the reserve force. That has had a direct impact on our rank structure in terms of level of responsibilities. For example, where our army brigade commanders were once Brigadier-Generals, they are now Colonels. Our senior officers bear heavy responsibility.

Consider the Canadian contingent commander in Bosnia, a colonel who leads a battle group of some 1,300 soldiers. He is responsible for their deployment, safety and operational readiness. He is accountable for a significant budget. He negotiates with other high-ranking officers from other armed forces, and officials at the highest level of NATO and the United Nations. He implements Canadian strategic and foreign policy objectives, and he makes life and death decisions regarding his troop on a daily basis. He is a colonel earning somewhere between $63,000 and $84,000 a year, depending on his seniority. That officer can fulfil those heavy responsibilities because of his training and experience. In that way, the Canadian Forces and other military organizations are unique.

[Translation]

We cannot buy on senior officers; we have to grow them. The same goes for the Master Warrant Officers and Chief Warrant Officers who form the senior leadership cadre for our non-commissioned members. We cannot recruit people off the street to do those jobs or hire them from the private sector. We have to develop them and that process takes years.

For example, an officer of the rank of colonel in the Canadian Forces has, on average, 20 years of training and experience; a brigadier-general has 25; a major-general has 30 and a lieutenant-general, or general like myself, 35 years.

[English]

That period of intense training and development includes command at a number of rank levels on actual operation and exercises. It also includes formal training at the staff college and on senior officer courses to learn how to handle complex strategic issues. It often includes time on exchange with armed forces of other countries. All in all, it is the long-term process of development of an effective military professional who can think strategically. It is an investment aimed at providing effective and credible leadership that is capable of responding to the security concerns of all Canadians.

The problem I have today is that other employers are coming after my officers and senior non-commissioned members. They recognize them as the highly skilled professionals they are, and make them offers they cannot refuse, offers I cannot match. This is especially true of the high-tech sector. We have devoted a significant amount of time, training and money to groom our people to operate in a high technological military environment and we are having trouble competing with the private sector in our effort to retain these workers. We are losing our investment and losing the opportunity to develop these people for senior leadership positions.

Although the numbers are relatively small, the unforecast release rate for senior non-commissioned members has doubled since 1996, while that of senior officers has tripled over the past year. In the past, senior officer attrition consisted mainly of those in legal, medical and dental professions, but the present situation has extended beyond that. The reasons for early release range from financial to job dissatisfaction to better career opportunities on "civvy" street. It is something we must address because the impact of these departures is already being felt.

Let me turn to the compensation of senior officers, because that has clearly been a reason for early release.

[Translation]

There is a perception that the compensation and benefits of our senior officers have moved ahead at a faster rate than that of our junior officers and non-commissioned members. That is not the case.

Canadian Forces compensation is based on comparability with the Public Service -- that has been government policy since the early 1970s. The multi-year comparability program under way since April 1, 1997 will bring non-commissioned members and general service officers below the rank of colonel into line with their Public Service counterparts. They will, by the end of this program, be compensated fully for the value of the work they do. However, studies are showing that our colonels and generals are not been compensated to the full value of the work they do in relation to their Public Service counterparts.

[English]

There is also a perception that our senior officers are overpaid. Last week, The Globe and Mail reported that in 1997, 779 employees of Ontario Hydro earned more than $100,000 a year. Only 18 of our generals, our senior leaders, make that amount. That is all. We also have 104 specialists, doctors, dentists and lawyers, who earn more than $100,000 a year. We must pay them that or we will lose them to the private practice. Perhaps that is as good an example as any as to why our rates of pay must remain competitive.

Our problem is not attracting quality people. It is keeping them. If we are to keep the officers and senior non-commissioned members who will be our senior leaders of the future, we must ensure that our compensation and benefits remain attractive. That is why I think the recommendations of the Strong report are so important. That is why we moved ahead with our own senior officers' pay study, and why we are pleased that your committee is taking a close look at this matter.

[Translation]

As I said at the outset, when considering issues such as these, you cannot look at the senior officer situation alone. You have to look at the entire Canadian Forces.

My highest priority is to improve the quality of life of our members. We have to do what is right for our men and women in uniform, and for their families. Wages and benefits, housing, care of the injured, gender equity and family issues all have a serious effect on the morale and well-being of our people and on our effectiveness and future as a military force. We cannot set and maintain the highest standards if we cannot recruit and retain quality people.

[English]

I am determined to see that these problems are addressed. I welcome the release yesterday of the report from the Standing Committee on Defence and Veterans Affairs on the quality of life of our members. I know that members of the forces across the country greatly appreciated the opportunity to appear before the committee, and have long awaited its release. The recommendations of the committee's report will be studied thoroughly to determine which recommendations can be implemented immediately, and which ones require additional funding and authority from the government. We hope to provide a response to the report as soon as possible. In the meantime, we have established a Quality of Life Project Office to implement and communicate recommendations from the SCONDVA report, and to assist the environmental chiefs of staff and other agencies in the department and forces in implementing ongoing and new quality of life initiatives. The office will also coordinate, monitor and consolidate all past, present and future quality-of-life initiatives implemented through the Canadian Forces.

The bottom line is to achieve maximum operational effectiveness. Our people must know that their families are well supported when they are deployed thousands of miles away from home, and that their efforts, sacrifices and competencies are valued and appreciated by their colleagues, their leaders and all Canadians. I know that they would be pleased to know you have taken their welfare to heart.

The Chairman: We are aware that the House of Commons has released its report, and hopefully it is of great benefit to people in the military. When we looked at remuneration and compensation and retention for all aspects of the public service, we selected the military because it had a cross-section of armed forces and civilians. It made it fairly unique. As well, the morale issues with respect to compensation have had a dramatic impact as we have seen and observed watching the House of Commons do its work.

In the end, it is really the public that must pay for this. They want to feel absolutely confident that the recommendations made by the House of Commons committee as well as this committee will be met. It is a matter of that confidence in how you operate.

I just left a meeting of the Agriculture Committee where we were discussing a particular drug that the health protection branch wants approved. It has become a very emotional issue and has taken a life of its own, which may not have been necessary.

Similarly, with the Department of Defence, there have been issues that have dramatically affected morale as well as compensation. Those issues are recurring. There is a fundamental issue here at work. You cannot address one without looking at the other.

I do not want to go over incidents that occurred in the past. We all know what they are: the problems in Somalia, the treatment of female military personnel, and, more recently, the helicopter issue. We are not necessarily here to bring these issues up, but they are a part of this. These issues are real and senators around this table will ask questions regarding them. However, keep in perspective that the real issue is on the broader scale. How are you planning to deal with these issues in the future? That is part and parcel of remuneration and retention of these individuals.

Senator Kinsella: Mr. Judd, in the document you circulated, I was looking at your graph, DND Civilian Population. Your very last bar is for October 1998. That is about 18,000. Do you have a copy?

Mr. Judd: Yes. The graph measures full-time public service employment.

Senator Kinsella: Yes.

Mr. Judd: The 20,000 figure I mentioned to you would include what are called term employees, contractors and so on who would fill up the balance, but who are not considered to be full public servants.

Senator Kinsella: In the estimates we are examining -- National Defence, 1998-1999 Estimates at page 44 -- I read under your civilian workforce, full-time equivalents. Does this number represent the FTEs as well? I want to find out how meaningful this graph is.

Mr. Judd: You have me at a disadvantage. I do not have the numbers in front of me from the Main Estimates, so I assume that there is a discrepancy between the two.

Senator Kinsella: The estimates which we are studying, and which I am reading, provide on page 44 those of the civilian workforce in terms of full-time equivalents. I was trying to determine whether the graph you just presented to us is also referring to numbers that effectively are FTEs.

Mr. Judd: The graph refers to people, so there may be a difference between FTEs and people, the FTEs being the authority to staff.

Senator Kinsella: Therefore, the estimates provide us with the number of positions and, therefore, there could be more actual person years, more bodies filling these positions?

Mr. Judd: In my experience, the coincidence between the two will be rare. Depending on staffing circumstances at any given moment, there will always be a difference between allowable FTEs and the actual number of employees who are on staff.

Senator Kinsella: What I am trying to understand is the reality of today. How many civilian employees do you have in the organization? Our estimates provide what is estimated for. In order for me to understand this and to understand your graph, I must know what this means. Are these FTEs or not?

Ms Monique Boudrias, Assistant Deputy Minister (Human Resources -- Civilian): No, they are people.

Mr. Judd: People.

Senator Kinsella: You have fewer people as of October 1998, according to the last bar on the graph. In reference to the index on the far left of the graph, that is about 18,000. In the estimates, the actuals in 1996-1997 were 21,498. Your forecast for 1997-1998 was 20,623. Your plan for 1998-1999 was 20,417. What I am trying to understand is the nature and the magnitude of the reduction in the civilian workforce in the Department of National Defence. When we look at your graph, it is quite remarkable to see almost a 50 per cent reduction over the past 10 years. In our estimates, we only go back to 1995-1996. Without having all the data in front of you, could you tell the members of this committee the magnitude of the reduction of the civilian workforce in your department?

Mr. Judd: Over what period of time? The 10-year period?

Senator Kinsella: The graph is the 10-year period.

Mr. Judd: Since 1994, we have gone from approximately 33,000 to the current total of approximately 20,000. At the moment, the actual strength would be around 18,000 because of staffing actions, unanticipated vacancies, and so on.

Senator Kinsella: In your judgment, what is the impact as a manager of that reduction, not only on the corporate activities of the department, but also the civilian support of the military in terms of morale? I am really interested in the distribution of your PYs, the actual 18,000 that you have working for you as of October 1998. Are they distributed as in the estimates on expenditure of funds on civilian PYs you are asking Parliament to approve? I am referring to, for example, 4,213 for maritime forces, 4,170 for land forces, and only 1,141 for departmental forces executives.

In the distribution and the assignments of your civilian workforce, do you maintain roughly the same distribution that we would see when we analyze this? I am trying to understand how you are assigning your civilian workforce.

Is the assignment affecting the operation in terms of what we are looking at, recruitment, maintenance, and so on? Have you assigned these actuals in the same manner in which the minister submitted them in his estimates?

Mr. Judd: The estimates would be accurate at the time they were submitted. There are changes ongoing throughout the year. The numbers there are obviously accurate.

The distribution of people, of the civilian workforce, is very much spread between the National Capital Region and the rest of the country. Much of the civilian workforce is under the direct supervision of military staff. In Ottawa, you have something of a reversal in some instances where you have military personnel working for civilian staff.

Senator Kinsella: In the deployment of either the civilian employees or the military personnel, is the concept of danger a factor that comes into play as to who receives an assignment? In terms of recruitment and retention, does the level of danger of the assigned task receive consideration in setting the salary of either the civilian or the military positions?

Mr. Judd: Generally speaking, there is a distinction between military and civilian compensation. General Baril mentioned the factor of comparability between military salaries and public service salaries. However, part of the factoring of military salaries is the so-called "X factor", which tries to recognize things like loss of personal freedom, separation from family, danger, and so on. Therefore, to some extent, there is that factor in military compensation.

In civilian employment categories, it varies by category depending on the nature of the work. If there were some degree of physical risk in the employment involved, that would be recognized in the compensation for that particular group.

Senator Kinsella: General, do the helicopter pilots flying the Sea Kings or the Labradors receive any kind of danger pay if they fly those pieces of equipment?

Gen Baril: If I may go back a bit to the danger pay, the risk and the specialty, all of our missions around the world are rated according to a scale that includes the danger, hardship, and conditions in which members live. For example, the troop in Bosnia receives the highest part of the scale because it is dangerous with the mines and so on. We do give our soldiers an extra amount of money in addition to the other allowances that they receive. Paratroopers receive a jump pay. A search and rescue technician receives a risk pay, and a helicopter pilot and transport pilot receive a specialist pay or equity pay.

Are those specifically flying the Labrador receiving extra pay because they are flying the Labrador? No, they are receiving the same pay as a helicopter pilot. However, the crew on board the search and rescue, as well as the engineer, receive a specialist pay that is somewhat different.

Senator Kinsella: A reply to questions in the Senate by the Leader of the Government in the Senate led us to believe that, in the last few days, there has been some kind of a policy change with respect to whether or not a pilot and his or her crew would have to take up a Sea King or a Labrador. Could you explain? Has there been a policy change? If so, what is that policy?

Gen Baril: I would prefer to have the commander of the Air Force answer that question. I am a pilot too, but only an ultralight pilot. I do not fly the big stuff. I know about flying and about our policy. It would be rather unwise in peace time to have an air crew who do not want to fly a particular machine and order them to fly. In wartime, that is another consideration. I do not believe we have ever forced any pilots to fly an airplane against their wish.

It is different for people in the airplane. When paratroopers sign up for a unit, they will participate in the exercise. If they refuse to go, that is disobeying an order. I would not like to fly in an airplane operated by a crew who are not highly trained. This is what we have all across Canada. The policy has not changed as to how we treat our aircrew, helicopter fighter or not.

In this case, we have a unit that was traumatized by the loss of six of their colleagues and friends. It is very traumatic, especially when they are in the life-saving business, a business where you sometimes take extreme chances so that others may live. Do we ask them to go back up when we have not found the cause of the crash; when we have not found that it is systematic, linked to the age or the technical side of the airplane; when it is so close to the accident? However, the decision was taken after very detailed consultation between the Commander of the Air Force and his maintainer, his unit commanding officer, who will fly those airplanes and whose crews will fly those airplanes. It is a hard decision, but that is what we are paid for, hard decisions.

Senator Kinsella: What was the decision?

Gen Baril: The decision was to have the Labrador fly again in a restricted way. They must fly to maintain their currency both in flying and operating in search and rescue mode. They will do the essential training to maintain their currency and they will be available for all search and rescue missions that we have.

The Chairman: This is a crisis management situation. What happens if another helicopter crashes? Have you thought of that? Have you made plans for it? How will you deal with it?

Gen Baril: Probably with great difficulty. Flying is a dangerous business, and our profession is a risky business. If I could see that far in the future and knew that a helicopter was going to crash, I would probably know the cause. We certainly have looked at what can happen, that is part of our profession. It is difficult to answer what would happen. What would be the cause of it, struck by lightning or a mid-air collision? Is it a mechanical fault or the fault of the crew? It is very deep speculation. However, that reminds us that we are in a very dangerous business, especially our search and rescue personnel.

The Chairman: The citizens of Canada want to have a high level of confidence. My thoughts are with you that one more does not go down.

[Translation]

Senator Bolduc: The Department of National Defence has changed dramatically in the past decade. When I was first appointed to the Senate, the department had 84,000 military and 32,000 civilian members. The Cold War was on. Our forces were involved in peacekeeping activities in places like Cyprus. We had bases in Germany. It was a whole different ball game. Today, I see that the department has a staff of 60,000, 20,000 of whom are civilian members. This means that there are 45,000 fewer people in the system.

Recently, I read your very interesting report. Let me congratulate you. You have been involved in an impressive range of activities. I can understand that morale among members is sometimes low for a number of reasons, including lengthy periods of time away from families and so forth. Soldiers are not always psychologically prepared to face situations in countries that are so very different from Canada.

I would like to focus on wages and training. With respect to wages, you plan to make some adjustments this year and next year which should bring wages more or less in line with those in the Public Service. Do the figures that you have quoted include the benefits that members of the military enjoy, benefits which civilians in the Public Service do not receive?

Gen Baril: The salaries of non-commissioned members and officers up to the rank of lieutenant-colonel are being adjusted. Non-commissioned members will achieve parity with their public service counterparts in April 1999. By the fall of the year 2000, at a rate of two per year, officers up to the rank of lieutenant-colonel will also achieve parity.

You asked if these figures included benefits. It is well known that members of the regular forces or reserves are entitled to medical and dental benefits. The pension system is the same as the others. Specialists receive special compensation and members get risk pay when they serve abroad. These are fairly similar to the benefits enjoyed by employees of the Department of Foreign Affairs because Treasury Board regulations apply. Benefits are adjusted to take into account inflation, when Treasury Board so authorizes.

The report calls for the number of benefits. It contains many recommendations. There are programs in place to provide assistance to families, particularly to those who receive a posting and must either buy or sell a home. Generally speaking, these benefits are in line with those offered in the Public Service.

Senator Bolduc: There is one thing that has always struck me in Quebec. In the heart of Sainte-Foy, right behind some shopping centres, members quarters sit on some prime land. Your military base is located about 20 miles away. Why have you not considered selling this land? You could make millions and use the money to provide better housing for forces members. As a businessman, this seems like the obvious thing to do because this land is extremely valuable. Some of the housing stock has been there for 45 years. You are constantly repairing these quarters and it must cost you plenty. If you were to sell this land, would you be able to keep the proceeds?

Gen Baril: That is the problem. In the mid 1970s, we swapped some of our land in Sainte-Foy for housing built in Valcartier. I lived in those quarters. I never learned if this swap was legal. If it was clear that all proceeds from the land sales could be spent on the Valcartier base, then someone would surely have acted on this before now.

Treasury Board disagrees with us on this point. Certainly, this is one option we could consider to improve housing conditions for our members across Canada. We own a great deal of land. Perhaps if we work out some kind of compromise and coordinate our efforts with Treasury Board, we can find a solution to this problem.

Senator Bolduc: With respect to training, two developments have greatly surprised me, particularly in the past ten years. I was saddened when you closed the National Defence College, because I am a former student and those were the best years of my life. Not only was it an interesting institution, it was also an asset to the Public Service. I was 45 years old, in mid-career. I had been serving as a deputy minister. After attending the college for one year, I continued on for another 20 years in the Public Service. It was truly an incredible experience for me. Raymond Cyr told me that of the three best years of his career -- and he has served as the President of Bell Canada, the President of BCE, and so forth -- one was an important year spent at the National Defence College. It was also an important learning experience for members of the military who were also there with us. While they were decent types, they did not have much of an idea of what was going on in the world around them at the time. I think the experience of being with us was good for them. We also benefited from the training provided at the senior officer, colonel and brigadier-general level. I cannot understand the decision to close this college and at the same time, to keep the federal public service management centre open.

When the government decided to close the Collège militaire in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, I raised a ruckus in the Senate for four days because I was appalled to see this announcement by the Department of Defence buried in a 200-page document. My sentiments were not fuelled by nationalism. I was dismayed because the closure represented a loss of opportunity for Canadians. Not only did the college provide training to French Canadians, it was also a centre for francophone officer recruitment. I am not aware of what has been happening since then in Kingston. I do not know if you are having problems recruiting francophone officers. It is important for us to have francophone officers in the forces to maintain some credibility, particularly in the province of Quebec. Even after five years, I have some difficulty understanding the reasons for this decision. How do you feel about these two decisions? I can understand that you may not wish to discuss the government's actions, but surely you must have an opinion on this subject.

Gen Baril: I will start with the National Defence College, perhaps because this is not as delicate a subject, given my position. I agree with you that this college was an excellent facility. It was a place where military and civilian personnel could share their expertise and knowledge. It was unquestionably the Cadillac of colleges at the time. Unfortunately, as a result of cutbacks, it was targeted for closure in 1994. My colleagues and I felt that this institution was so important to the development of our senior officers that we have decided to reinstate two different courses in Toronto -- these are just beginning -- for officers at the rank of colonel and brigadier-general with a view to training officers for senior command. The first course lasts three months, while the second lasts six months and is scheduled to begin next year. The college was costly to maintain and was therefore shut down. The need for training, however, still exists and that is why we are reinstating some courses in a more accessible format, although we would have liked to keep the college open.

RMC in Kingston is now a bilingual institution. Again, the Canadian forces could not afford to operate three identical colleges. I agree with you that the Collège militaire in Saint-Jean had a somewhat different mission. It was established as a satellite facility for RMC in the early 1950s to meet the needs of French Canadians and Quebecers.

According to our plan, we continue to use the Richelieu facility to provide academic training to approximately 125 young persons enrolled in our military colleges. They attend a complex in Saint-Jean for a period of one year, before moving on to Kingston for the remainder of their education.

I am not prepared to discuss a decision made by the federal government. I know why the college was initially established. I know why it was shut down. If ever the situation changes, then perhaps we can look at ways of using this facility.

[English]

Senator Lynch-Staunton: I have a question to ask following the exchange on the civilian workforce in the department. How many employees on contract are doing jobs that were done by permanent employees who are no longer with the department?

Mr. Judd: I will have to get back to you with a precise answer on that.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: I am not assuming anything, but it would be good to know the total civilian workforce of the department, including employees or contractual employees who are there on a long-term basis, who, in effect, could be considered the equivalent of permanent employees. If it is only a few dozen, fine, but if it is up into the hundreds or thousands, that should be a factor in considering the total civilian workforce of the department.

Mr. Judd: That is quite right. For the most part, the contractors are short term. However, a different category of people are carrying out functions which were previously carried out by public servants. Because the activity has been privatized or contracted out, some of the former employees who were employed there have since been hired by the contractor who now provides the services. For example, I think of the Goose Bay site support services, or personnel used at the NATO flying training college out west. I will follow up with something more precise on all that.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Except for one brief reference to the senior officers involved, there was no reference made by Mr. Judd or the General to the role of the militia and its place in the armed forces. There is no honorary colonel across the country who is not distressed by the fact that both the role and the assets allocated to the militia have been decreasing, certainly the budget has. To many of them, the militia is meant to be the breeding ground for the force from which you pluck your best people and develop them into the career people you are looking for. That opinion is shared by a lot of people.

I was hoping that you could reassure us that there is a role for the militia. What is the militia? When will the decreases in its budget come to an end?

Gen Baril: The reason I did not mention it is because it is directly related to the regular force. Whatever happens is the same. Whenever we have a reservist, air, navy or army, who comes with us in class B or class C, if he jumps with us or flies with us, he receives the same pay.

The other is decreasing resources. It is a general affair happening to the whole of the forces. For me and for my principal commander, there is an integrated force, not reserve and not regular. Our resources must be according to the task and the responsibility that we have. I must agree with you that certainly the resources have gone down. I have known the reserves for 37 years. I joined as a young reservist. I remember the good old days, and I would prefer to be a young reservist today compared to what they had at that time. The reserves are certainly not at the level where they would like to be, where we would like them to be, but we have been using them in the past eight or nine years.

Every unit we send out consists of almost 10 per cent reservists. In Bosnia, close to 10 per cent of our unit consists of reservists. They joined the battle group about 90 days before. They worked to improve their skills to catch up to those who are full-time soldiers. They are outstanding and they serve in a magnificent way. There is only one drawback to taking reservists to serve in the regular forces. When their contract is finished, they join the regular forces instead of having their experience mixed with the reserve unit. We receive the benefit and the reserve is paying for it. We are looking at that problem and trying to alleviate it.

I do not want to be in the slave business by buying those who are coming from the reserves. However, we must compensate the unit for losing all its good people. It is a difficult balancing act, especially for the land forces where the reserve level is very high, over 18,000 in many provinces across Canada.

The future of the Canadian Forces is through the militia and some other reserve unit. The regular is concentrated on megabases on the West and East Coasts, and very few bases across Canada. That means that the Canadian flag and uniform are shown by our reservists and our cadet corps that we have across Canada, as well as the reserve officers that are responsible for those cadets. It is part and parcel of the Canadian Forces, and I have never forgotten it.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Who went to Winnipeg during the flood, to Quebec during the ice storm, and to Chicoutimi during the other flood? Were they mainly reservists?

Gen Baril: During the ice storm, we had about 16,200 who were out of their garrison. There were about 5,000 who were supporting them from inside the garrison. Of the 16,000 that were deployed, a little over 4,000 were reservists, from Victoria to Newfoundland. We got them all in.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Did they receive any additional pay? Many of them worked more than a normal eight-hour day. Did they benefit from the equivalent overtime as others, such as Hydro workers and so on, who worked 16-hour days?

Gen Baril: We are not in the overtime business. That was certainly a difficult situation. Our people were working alongside hydro workers who were making more in one day than our folks were making in two weeks. That is another matter. We operate 24 hours a day and seven days a week, and this overtime is built into our pay system.

Those who were deployed during the ice storm were paid at the exact same rate as the regular force, because we put them all in class C. In other words, they received exactly the same pay on a daily basis, and the same advantages as any regular. That is one of the things that we quickly authorized the first day.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: The second question concerns morale. In the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs Report that was released yesterday, there is reference made to our armed forces being confronted with economic hardship, inadequate housing and increase in high risk operations with equipment that is old and ill-suited to the task at hand. That does not inspire confidence. The report mentions career stagnation, increased time away from home, multiple moves on short notice, and a perceived lack of public recognition for their efforts, which is not uncommon. The items I just mentioned are most disturbing.

I would also add that the shutdown of the Somalia inquiry certainly upset members of the armed forces because the impression was given that the middle to lower ranks were responsible for some of the excesses. Those in higher ranks have yet to be heard from. Can you comment on these issues that are causing morale problems? To what extent do you see it? I ask you not to be protective of those responsible and to be as frank as you can. We do know there is a morale problem. We want to know how extensive it is.

Gen Baril: I have been shopping around to find a morale meter where I can put the finger of my folks in and check their heart to see the level of morale. It is very difficult. There are so many factors, whether you are serving in Alert, at headquarters here, or in a very exotic posting around the world. We must not mix morale and happiness.

The report you are referring to that was tabled yesterday is a hard-hitting report, a very striking criticism. At the same time it is constructive. We are not hiding anything. The people went in front of the committee and just poured their hearts out. What you see there is exactly what we think. That situation did not happen in a matter of six months. This is a situation that developed this way over a long period of time. I have not analyzed the report yet, but it will show what we have done, the way we have changed. To make the armed forces strong, we need solid leadership, good training, good equipment and quality people.

To have quality people, I must pay them. I must take care of their families and provide them housing across the nation. I must also take care of them when they are wounded. If I do not give them a worthwhile job, they will not come with us. We know we have problems and we have already resolved many of them. We are in the process of fixing more. The people across the land understand that. Every task that Canadians have asked us to do has been done, from the ice storm to the flood, as well as our presence in 18 countries around the world. It is being executed in a very professional way. This is one of the signs that the morale in the forces is very acceptable. I cannot determine what it is because it is changing on a daily basis, depending on where you are.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: You do not disagree with the chapter headings here?

Gen Baril: No, I do not.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: These are quite disturbing, particularly the equipment that is not up to standard.

Gen Baril: Because of the advances in technology, the day that you buy a piece of equipment, it becomes old technology right away. It is difficult to have up- to-snuff equipment on a daily basis. Our equipment, the helicopters, the airplanes and the vehicles, are safe and acceptable to execute the tasks that we are being asked to accomplish. We have a fleet of vehicles now being used in Yugoslavia that meet the requirements. I am sure that we could find better vehicles on the market. Next spring we will introduce a new vehicle in Bosnia.

The Griffon, a new helicopter, is now in Bosnia. It is state of the art. With all our equipment, we do not use it unless it is safe and efficient. Yes, we do have old equipment. I have not seen any army in the world that has only new equipment. Technology is expensive and it changes very quickly. Again, there is the balance between training leadership, paying the people, and buying the equipment. If I had unlimited resources, the deputy minister and I would have a much easier time.

[Translation]

Senator Bolduc: In his report, the Auditor General makes a number of critical observations which, for someone in the know, seem fully justified. He points out the in some instances, the military purchased equipment which is not really the best. What is more, the military in some cases purchased equipment which was unsuitable for the job at hand. Of the six projects examined, he notes that two purchases were sound, but that several others may be questionable to the uninitiated. No doubt you know what I am talking about. Among other things, he mentions artillery that does not fire effectively. That could be somewhat embarrassing.

Gen Baril: We were called before the House Finance Committee to discuss the Auditor General's findings. In the case of the Griffon helicopter acquisition, this calculated decision made by my predecessors was supposed to resolve at least 80 or 85 per cent of the problem. Had I been there, perhaps I too would have made the same decision to acquire lower-capability helicopters instead of maintaining three different fleets. This machine was supposed to replace those in the three other fleets. It is a matter of striking a balance with the resources available to us. Do we purchase three helicopter fleets, and acquire half as many units, or do we acquire a fleet of lower-capability aircraft that nonetheless meet our objectives? Perhaps these helicopters do not have the lift capability to transport artillery over long distances, but they can perform over shorter distances. They participate in missions, as part of coalitions, and we do share the resources that are available.

The Auditor General mentioned that some of the equipment was not interoperable. Interoperability is always a serious concern because equipment is purchased, developed and operated by independent countries. One of NATO's ongoing concerns is to ensure that equipment is interoperable, otherwise the same ammunition, or even the same fuel, cannot be used.

[English]

Senator Cools: General, is this your first appearance before this committee?

Gen Baril: Yes.

Senator Cools: Welcome. One could call it the millennium neurosis or the millennium psychosis. So much news and so many events are bombarding the human psyche on a minute-by-minute basis. One of the smaller issues that has begun to preoccupy me is that many human beings are having enormous difficulty coping with this constant bombardment, and, in point of fact, are shutting down.

During the Airbus controversy and the so-called investigation into Mr. Mulroney, many of us, including myself, were deeply bothered by it. A small fact that never surfaced anywhere was that every employee of Air Canada was bothered by it. I have vivid memories of those months. Every time I boarded an Air Canada flight, the flight attendants wanted to talk to me about it. Why was this happening? Why were we doing this? Why were they being so impugned in chacracter?

I vividly remember one particular flight attendant who told me that, on one occasion, as she arrived in Europe and stepped off her plane, she was verbally assaulted by many individuals. I remember reflecting that these kinds of events cause a whole set of consequences to other individuals, consequences we know nothing about and which we have no way of measuring.

Therefore, to retrace the steps of Senator Lynch-Staunton, you make a distinction between morale and happiness. Are you hoping to find a better measure of the impact that these terrible events are having on your forces, your potential for recruitment, your relationships on the job between members of the forces, and, in general, the state of human relations?

Gen Baril: That is a difficult question. If we look at the past six or seven years in the Canadian Forces, it certainly had a devastating effect on many of us, and probably a more devastating effect on some of our families. We were not trained to face such onslaught from the outside and we were not trained to live with those things.

Because of my upbringing, I was one of those young officers who did not have to be told that you do not torture people. Now we find we must teach our people things as basic as that. It is a very hard awakening for all of us. You cannot shoot the messenger who said that things were done wrong. You must correct what you have done wrong. I think we are heading in the right direction by quickly correcting what is wrong as soon as we find out what the problem is. That is the only way to establish the confidence between the forces and the Canadian people and vice versa.

Personally, I also lacked self-confidence for awhile. We would have liked to hide and not be looked at for a period of time. However, our society demands that we be visible. That is why we are transparent. It is difficult to be transparent in a culture that did not teach us to be that way. We were ignored in our garrison. Now, all of a sudden, everything must be public. The change in our mentality and our outlook was very difficult, but it is for the good of our nation and for the good of the forces.

Senator Cools: Perhaps, members of the committee, as we proceed in our work we could build a little more on this and examine it more closely. General Baril has talked about the devastating impacts on people who have no preparation and no training to receive what is happening to them.

At the same time, the ability of leadership to respond positively and to come to terms with imperfections and deficiencies, as well as to make corrections swiftly without attempting to hide or head for cover, takes a lot of moral courage.

[Translation]

Senator Lavoie-Roux: Senator Bolduc asked you if recruitment of francophone officers had suffered because of the closure of the college in Saint-Jean and the subsequent transfer of programs to Kingston. How has the recruitment of francophone officers been affected by this decision?

Gen Baril: I did not provide an answer to that part of the question. Recruitment has not suffered because we continue to recruit Quebecers and Francophones to fill openings at our military colleges and universities. It would be difficult to say whether we are recruiting the same quality of officer as we did prior to the closure of CMR. I cannot answer that question. Perhaps my recruitment specialist could comment further on that.

Lieutenant-Colonel Gilles Lavergne, Deputy Commander, Recruiting Services: We have looked at this issue closely. I have some figures going back to 1991 all the way up to the present time. We looked at the applications submitted to the selection board and at the make-up of the student population entering the college.

Between 1991 and 1998, based on our review of the files, we note that the percentage of francophone students accounted for between 23 per cent and 41 per cent annually of all student files in a given year. The percentage of francophone students has remained quite steady. There is really no evidence that the closure of the college in Saint-Jean prompted a decline in interest among francophones.

I am talking about students applying for enrollment, not about individuals showing up at the recruitment centre. I am talking about candidates that are considered for acceptance by a selection board.

In looking at candidates to whom an offer of employment has been made and who have accepted that offer, we note that the number of successful applicants has remained at about 30 per cent for each year between 1991 and 1998. Francophone representation nationally is 26 per cent. Our recruitment level is several percentage points above the national average.

Senator Bolduc: And how many of the successful candidates actually go on to graduate from RMC?

Lcol Lavergne: I do not have the figures on the number of graduates.

Senator Lavoie-Roux: That would be interesting to know.

Either last year or this year, the armed forces were in the news on several occasions over incidents of abuse involving female members of the armed forces. Has this problem been eliminated or brought under control? When someone is found guilty of abuse of this nature, is that person court-martialed? What measures are taken when situations like this arise?

I was appalled to hear about the incident in Bosnia involving members of the Canadian Forces who abused nurses and patients at a psychiatric hospital. What kind of sanctions are imposed on members found guilty of crimes of this nature?

Gen Baril: With respect to harassment, sexual abuse or authority problems, these have been brought under control, but the problem will not go away entirely. I can guarantee that. Considering that we have 60,000 regular members, 30,000 reservists, 55,000 young boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 18, 7,000 cadets and 20,000 civilian employees, I would be very surprised if, in two years' time, I was able to admit to you that we no longer have any problems involving harassment or abuse of authority in the Canadian Forces. This is not to say that we cannot try to do better. We have in fact instituted a number of mechanisms to address these problems. One case of abuse is one case too many.

The atrocities that made the headlines back in the early spring were a wake-up call to us that we still had bigger problems to contend with. The worst thing was discovering that our members were afraid even within their own organization. That is why we have taken steps to put some mechanisms in place.

As far as discipline goes, we are the only organization in Canada to have its very own code of service discipline. Bill C-25 is currently before the Senate committee for amendment.

The actions of Canadian forces members involving other Canadian forces members in Canada or abroad are subject to the provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada.

Most cases of sexual assault are dealt with in civil court because it has jurisdiction in Canada. We do not have the authority to hear such cases. As for the incidents in Bosnia, this black mark on the military was the focus of internal as well as external inquiries. Disciplinary action was taken and the books were closed on this regrettable incident last June.

A range of disciplinary measures were invoked. Sixty persons were, if not charged, then at least questioned about a variety of allegations ranging from minor to very serious ones. In all, I believe 28 persons were sanctioned in some way.

Senator Lavoie-Roux: Are these persons thrown out of the armed forces? You said that the armed forces did not have to teach you that such actions were wrong. When you were young, you learned that it was wrong to torture people.

Are people who commit offenses of this nature allowed to remain in the armed forces?

Gen Baril: In the armed forces, as elsewhere in Canada, there is a process in place that we follow. This process must be fair for everyone, and any sanctions commensurate with the crime committed. I cannot stand someone up against a wall and shoot him.

Senator Lavoie-Roux: I am not asking you to do that either.

Gen Baril: There are procedures that we must follow: when a member of the armed forces is acquitted, he is set free, and when he is found guilty, he is sent to prison. In the case of the incident in Bosnia, we advised that no action be taken. A verbal warning was issued and those involved could eventually be dismissed from the forces.

Senator Lavoie-Roux: Are you saying that those involved could eventually be court-martialed?

Gen Baril: Yes.

[English]

Senator Lynch-Staunton: In Bill C-25, which is presently before our Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, there is a provision for the Special Investigation Unit to be brought up to the level of the RCMP, in terms of ability and qualifications. It is the unit responsible for looking into sexual assaults and major crimes such as murder. Are you satisfied that you have the resources and the personnel to meet those obligations outlined in the bill that will be passed in the next few weeks?

Gen Baril: The National Investigation Service has been in place for about a year now, following the recommendations in the Dickson commission and Bill C-25, a bill to amend the National Defence Act. The NIS is professional and improving. We are receiving training from outside. They have the right to lay charges now. If they need help from outside, they get it.

There are members of the RCMP working at our headquarters within the NIS. It is very independent, totally separated from the chain of command. We still refer to it as the Dickson commission because Mr. Justice Dickson was heading it. They are coming to look and see if we have done what they told us to do. Their report should be tabled in a couple of weeks.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: So what is in the bill is already being implemented, if not totally implemented?

Gen Baril: No. The NIS has already been implemented for one year. We are just confirming that the way we have done it is the right way or what kind of fine-tuning we must do.

The Chairman: I, as a Manitoban, would like to thank you on behalf of all Manitobans. In the eyes of the people of that province, that was your finest hour. Being from the Red River Valley and living in an area that was threatened, it was superb to see your troops operate, day and night, weeks on end. That did more good for you and your mates than anything you could possibly create. You are heroes in Manitoba and, as Senator Lavoie-Roux says, in Quebec as well.

We can talk about different issues, however. There is a sense of a plan of action on your part. Can you elaborate on that a little more and give us some time frames? Part of the problem that government has -- and I include the armed forces in that, particularly the Senate as well -- is that we are not very open. The public is tired of that and they want to see us being more open and transparent.

Part of that is historic in nature, but part of it is also that, in government, we tend to do things where we shoot ourselves in the foot. For example, the Somalia Inquiry was terminated without completion. It left you, as a group, with huge questions that the public had a right to know.

In your view, would it have been more beneficial for the armed forces and the Department of Defence to have had the inquiry completed so that Canadians could see that you were laying it out before them? You could have said what occurred, then develop a plan of action and lay it out in front of Canadians, showing them what you were doing to prevent it from happening again.

Gen Baril: It is not for me to decide who stopped this investigation, and it is not for me to criticize those who stopped it. My personal view is that we will never forget the lesson of Somalia. However, we have so much ahead of us that Somalia must now be behind me. I have other priorities and we must move forward in what we have been trying to do in the past few years. I cannot look backwards.

The Chairman: I know there is a plan of action being put in place. Can you briefly describe what that plan of action is and how you will keep Canadians informed? In other words, how you will be transparent?

Mr. Judd: I will try to give you a personal perspective rather than a bureaucratic perspective, because I have spent over 25 years in the public service in six different institutions of the federal government. I arrived at National Defence in March of this year, and perhaps I have a fresher view than people with more time there would otherwise have.

In terms of the plan of action, the Somalia Inquiry and the various other commissions and inquiries that took place in the course of the last several years focused on the military justice system, the Canadian Forces generally. In total, they produced approximately 315 recommendations for change which touch almost every aspect of the organization.

Further to the Somalia commission's report, we were acting on over 80 per cent of the recommendations that were put into place there. It is a process that will take time. At this moment, we are about 60 per cent of the way clear. To ensure that there is a degree of transparency and discipline to the process, our implementation of all these reforms is being monitored by an advisory committee that is headed by a former Speaker of the House of Commons and five or six other Canadians from outside of the government.

The committee reports to the minister on a semi-annual basis. They will have a report coming out imminently on their appreciation of the progress in the last six months. So there is a process of reform underway. It is being externally monitored and publicly reported. We certainly will take the opportunity to put it on our own Internet site and make sure people are very much aware of it.

From a broader corporate perspective, the successful implementation of reforms is one of six principal priorities that we have as an organization for the next several years. On the issue of transparency, I often find it difficult to imagine an organization within the federal government that is now more than transparent than the Canadian Forces. A public affairs policy that is still being implemented allows any member of the Canadian Forces to speak to members of the media. Any reader of Canadian newspapers will know that on a fairly regular basis a lot of them do speak quite frankly to members of the media about what is going on in the armed forces.

We are institutionally meeting the gist of your concerns, but perhaps we are not getting as much daylight on what we are doing.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: The problem with Somalia is that many senior people were associated with the events at the time, including two former chief of defence staff, one judge advocate general, one former deputy minister and one minister of defence. Their activities have been questioned and allegations have been made about their activities which, if substantiated, would indicate that they did not behave in the manner expected, and if not true, would have not have had a chance to be denied. There are people out there who you know well who have never had an opportunity to reply and to give their versions of facts to clear the air on what took place at the highest levels following the tragic events of March 1993 and others.

No one questions that reforms have taken place and are continuing to take place, or that there is increased transparency; it is the black hole that exists that troubles them. It is very unfair for those people's reputations to remain under a cloud. It would be to the advantage of them and to the armed forces as a whole if someone, preferably an independent inquiry, would pick up where the inquiry left off so that we could get to the end of the story and clear the air and allow the innocent to be declared innocent, and if there are guilty ones, to act accordingly.

Right now the reputations of a lot of senior people and others remain under a cloud because of a refusal to find out the whole story of Somalia. It would be to the advantage of the armed forces to see that reputations are cleared as quickly as possible. I know you want to put all the events behind you, with reason. We all do, but I am sure that some of these people would welcome a chance to give their story for the reasons I mentioned.

Mr. Judd: The issue you raised falls in the area of what is beyond our competence to respond to.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Would you disagree that such an approach is not the right one?

Mr. Judd: I would be happy to share thoughts with you privately at some point.

Senator Berntson: The recent record of the Labrador does not inspire confidence. It is more than just the last one that went down. There have been a few in recent history. The cause of any of them going down has not been determined. Nobody knows why these things have been performing at less than peak performance.

Now, that brings us of course to a situation where we are now. We do not have a lot of confidence in this particular piece of equipment. We have a nervous consuming public, whether it be a downed bush pilot in Northern Timbuktu or fishermen at sea in trouble.

When we raised this question in the chamber yesterday, the answer to the question seemed to be, yes, we agree with you that this problem is out there and perception is reality. If it is perceived that this equipment is not safe; it does not matter how many times you call it safe; perception is still reality and the confidence in it is not there.

We recognize that the military has acted with a great deal of sensitivity toward the people in Greenwood, and with justification, of course. However, it does not solve the problem to say that if the people in Greenwood do not want to fly, they will not have to, that we will bring in substitute crews. We pursued that as an option, but all that does is spread the nervousness around.

On the way home last night listening to the radio, the former base commander of Greenwood, a helicopter pilot himself, was being interviewed. He indicated that he was a friend of the current base commander and said that the fellow was very much a professional, very competent and that he should enjoy the confidence of all of his colleagues.

In any event, when the retired fellow was asked whether or not in the circumstances he would go up in a Labrador, he said he would not. That speaks volumes as well. He is unencumbered by any chain of command.

Then we started exploring other options yesterday. There is a rumour out there that there are people or organizations or maybe even countries who have offered either equipment or service which could be made available to Canada or to search and rescue that could solve the problem. The Labrador is back on the ground and you will work at it until you find out why it is not working right. So why would we not, out of an abundance of caution if these offers exist, pursue these options? Maybe we are. Can you comment on that?

Gen Baril: All the options to which you are referring or that you might have heard of have been looked at in great detail by the specialists that we have, especially the air force and our material acquisition specialists. First of all, when we have a fleet of airplanes that we have a problem with, such as search and rescue, we readjust our asset right away. That is why we were using the Sea King and the Griffon and using fixed-wing airplanes that can parachute outside also with search and rescue. Evidently, the Labrador is the specialist helicopter that we have that we must use until they are replaced.

We have said it before -- and it is worth saying it again for the record -- that we have never flown when they are unsafe. They do not now and they will not in the future. People are nervous. It is not just a matter of flying in a helicopter but it is also the job that they are doing. I do not think the fishermen will check what kind of helicopter will hoist them in during a storm. That is not what I worry about.

I worry about the confidence of those who operate and fly and save lives. They must have confidence in those helicopters. The commander of the air force consulted with mechanics and those who fly the helicopters, and these consultations led him to take the difficult decision that we should put them back in flight, put them back in line, with some restrictions. At the same time, he understands that it will be hard for some crew to go back on.

Maybe Mr. Parent, who is a power rescue team member who has flown however many thousands of hours in those things, can give you some comments as to how his colleagues and friends in the search and rescue feel about using the material that we have now.

Mr. Guy Parent, Canadian Forces Chief Warrant Officer: The community is grieving right now. Greenwood is the immediate family. Their grief is much more pronounced. They have a reluctance to return to flight, and that is understandable. We have been flying search and rescue since 1944. In that time we have lost maybe five airplanes. Considering the type of work we do, it is a tremendous record. It certainly does not explain any of the accidents.

A rescue mission is based not only on the platform, it is based on the full integration of the specialist skills, the equipment carried and the platform that is used. To achieve a full operational status in one of those rescue missions or operations, we are talking about 18 months to two years. So really that would cover the gap between now and the acquisition of a new helicopter.

I have flown the Labrador over 2,000 hours. I have talked to the community. Right now, my peers, other than the ones in Greenwood, are quite confident that we trust the system and the people that fly it. In our view, the mission carries on.

Senator Berntson: I happen to have a great deal of confidence in the Canadian military. I accept what you say. I hope that it is heard by all of those who are out there who quite legitimately have some nervousness. This thing has come down on more than one occasion and we still do not know why.

Gen Baril: You mentioned that some of them came down previously and we do know why. We do know why.

Senator Berntson: I do not.

Gen Baril: We do know why they came down. It was corrected. There is only one incident in 1992 in the Rockies when we were hoisting somebody out and the helicopter had a power failure at that time. We knew we had a power failure, and that is the only time that we could not find what happened to the engine. Those engines have been upgraded. All the other crashes that we had, we found out what the cause was.

I was at the hangar in Uplands two nights ago talking to those who are doing the investigation. It is pretty difficult. The airplane is destroyed. They are still confident that they will find out what happened. They have not found a systemic problem with the airplane, and that is why the commander of the air force, in consultation, decided to let them fly again with some restrictions. It reminds us that we are in a dangerous business.

Senator Berntson: They have not been able to rule out a systemic problem.

Senator Kinsella: Are you able to assure this committee and the military personnel, particularly those involved, that the career progress of any pilot or crew member who refuses to fly a Labrador or Sea King on a mission because they do not have confidence in that equipment, will in no way be negatively jeopardized?

Gen Baril: I can answer yes, but on the other hand, somebody who decides not to fly a certain class of helicopter will have to be retrained on another helicopter. If a search and rescue specialist does not want to fly in them, then a big chunk of his profession cannot be exercised in those helicopters. I have great confidence in the leadership of the air force to take care of those people who have been so traumatized.

Senator Kinsella: So there is no discretion. If a mission is assigned the pilot and crew, they must take off if they want to continue to be in that unit?

Gen Baril: No, if someone decides that he will not fly the Labrador, and if we find the cause of the crash in two weeks and find out what happened, if somebody says that he has had enough of flying search and rescue missions in the kind of helicopter that we have, we must retrain him in some other aircraft.

Senator Kinsella: In the estimates, how are you funding the ombudsman? Is that coming out of the Minister's budget, the civilian side of the departmental budget or the military budget?

Mr. Judd: The ombudsman has started on his job. He is engaged in a period of consultations now, which he expects to last until January. He is also in the process of determining resource requirements, budgetary needs and so on. He is hoping to have that more or less finalized in the coming month or two, at which point we will seek funding for it.

Senator Kinsella: Where is the authority to pay him now? Does anybody know who is paying him and where the money comes from?

Mr. Judd: He is a Governor in Council appointee, so we have the authority to pay him.

Senator Kinsella: Does it come out of your budget or the General's budget?

Mr. Judd: It is the same budget.

[Translation]

Senator Bolduc: When you proceeded to adjust your workforce, did you first look to volunteers? Did you start by identifying essential and non-essential positions and then work from there?

I have heard that you have lost some aircraft pilots. I always thought that you needed a specific number of pilots to fly specific aircraft. If you lose these people, you could find yourself in a rather difficult situation. How did this happen?

Gen Baril: The first round of cutbacks targeted employees whose positions could not be eliminated by attrition in the next two years. A program was put in place. The first stage was voluntary. Those wishing to could opt to leave under the workforce reduction program.

Senator Bolduc: Including those in essential positions?

Gen Baril: Unfortunately, yes. The second round of cuts targeted specific areas. We eliminated a number of pilot positions because there were too many of them. These pilots had been trained, but lacked the experience we wanted. I wish they were around today because now, they would have more experience. Back then, decisions were made by the people in place to save money quickly. We let some people we no longer needed go, even if this meant having to hire them back later. Today, we have a problem with a shortage of pilots. Now we have a special program in place to keep our pilots.

Senator Bolduc: I know of some of your members who were colonels and brigadiers and who left the forces. Shortly thereafter, they were hired back on contract to do the same job. Are you aware of this? I know of such cases.

Gen Baril: Perhaps this occurred before I took up this position. Some comments were made. However, our internal investigations showed that those who were hired back on contract had followed all of the rules in place at the time. Perhaps the real problem was one of perception.

Senator Bolduc: Can you give me some assurances that this is not happening today, except in the case of pilots?

Gen Baril: We are prepared to hire back any pilots who want to re-enlist.

Senator Bolduc: Are there other employees in specialized occupational groups whom you would like to hire back?

Gen Baril: During the first round of cuts, we lost people with considerable experience and talent. We would have preferred to pick and choose the people who would be leaving. However, Treasury Board was overseeing this program. We had to be fair to everyone. We could not decide to keep only the good employees or to favour those wishing to take early retirement.

Senator Bolduc: Mutatis mutandis.

[English]

It is the same thing for the civilian side of the department.

[Translation]

Ms Boudrias: On the civilian side of the equation, in proceeding with workforce adjustment, we started by identifying non-essential positions. In the public service, special programs have been set up. Employees not wishing to leave had the option of identifying themselves and of making it clear that they were not interested in availing themselves of the program. Conversely, those interested in opting for the program could identify themselves. This way, employees were given as many opportunities as possible.

[English]

The Chairman: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for coming. After we have had the opportunity to examine the House of Commons report, perhaps someone from your staff, General, could present us with an overview of your reaction to it. It would be important for us as we continue down the road.

The committee adjourned.