Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is a pleasure to appear before you today to discuss the rehiring of retired personnel by the Canadian Forces.
Before I begin, let me introduce the other key witnesses present here with me today. First, from the land staff is Colonel Kevin Moher. He is the officer responsible for management for the army of people. Also with me, from the assistant deputy minister, civilian human resources, is Gail Johnson, director general, civilian employment strategies and programs, who is responsible for civilian personnel employment within the Department of National Defence.
My own area of responsibility in the subject of interest today relates to the policy governing the personnel administration of the reserve component of the Canadian Forces in full- and part-time positions. The rules governing the employment of Canadian Forces annuitants are included in this policy. We will begin with a brief overview of the policy to set the scene for the committee.
As you know, the Canadian Forces is a total force comprised of a regular component, made up of personnel who have agreed to serve on a continuing basis, and a reserve component, made up of personnel who have agreed to serve on other than a continuing basis. For a variety of reasons, it is sometimes necessary to employ personnel from one component in units of the other component. Afghanistan is an obvious example of this.
We have large numbers of reservists serving alongside their regular force counterparts in theatre today and expect to do so as long as we are deployed and have troops abroad.
In addition, because we are a volunteer service, movement between the components, the regular force and the reserve force, based on personal decision and personal circumstances, is allowed and relatively common; indeed, it has been going on since the 1950s. This leads to transfers between components whereby personnel from the reserves become members of the regular force and vice versa. It is not uncommon for military personnel to transfer to the reserve component on retirement from the regular component. This allows them to continue to serve and allows the Canadian Forces to benefit from their expertise.
This is, of course, not the only method available to the Canadian Forces to continue to avail itself of the knowledge and expertise invested in its retiring members during their careers with the regular force component. Depending on personal circumstances and long-term objectives, some choose to continue as public servants. Others make themselves available for temporary employment as employees of contracting firms used by the department and the Government of Canada via the PWGSC standing contracts.
Why do we need these people? Why do we not use personnel from the regular component?
As you know, the Canadian Forces is expanding its personnel establishment as directed in the Canada First defence strategy. Indeed, I am pleased to announce today that we did meet our targets for last year, not grosso modo seulement, not in overall general terms only, but it has been the best year in many years in recruiting our stress trades.
While we have been very successful in our recruiting efforts, it takes time to train and to develop new personnel to the point at which they can contribute effectively to military operations and to necessary administrative functions. As a result, we have a large number of personnel in the training pipeline who are unavailable for employment in positions calling for a trained, effective person. Right now, we have approximately 4,800 of these positions without qualified personnel in the regular force to fill them. It is these positions, as well as the mission in Afghanistan, that lead to the largest use of reservists on a full-time basis.
I should also point out that relatively few of these positions require a senior officer. The majority do not. For example, there are slightly over 3,000 corporals and an equal number of sergeants from the reserve component employed full-time with the regular component. This is a case of making use of expertise resident in the reserve component—across the entire rank structure—to satisfy a genuine military requirement.
Let me explain how we go about deciding to use a specific reservist in a specific position.
The first step is to attempt to fill the position with a member of the regular component. Only when it has been determined that this will not be possible do we consider using a reservist. The requirement is then announced, at first locally and then nationwide if required, to all units of the reserve component via an employment opportunity message. This message describes the job to be done, the rank and occupation of the person required, and any other applicable administrative details. There is a minimum period of 30 days within which any reservist who meets the stated requirements may apply for consideration.
Once the 30-day application period has closed, the unit requiring the services of the reservist will review all applications received, conduct interviews as required, and select the individual thus qualified to fill the position.
This is an open, transparent process that is similar to the hiring process used by the public service.
Recently, to enhance transparency and make the process more efficient, we have introduced a web-based application, which we'll be more than pleased to discuss during the question period. This is an in-house application accessible by all reservists, which replaces paper-based processes used in the past. In addition to making the process more efficient, it also allows for better quality control by higher headquarters, thereby ensuring transparency and fairness. At this time there are two pilots going on, with the new software being trialled in my organization at chief military personnel command, and within the army.
It's also important for you to understand that our current need for reservists will not continue forever. The people now in the training pipeline will become functional. In due course the position now occupied by a reservist will be filled by someone from the regular component. So in time our need for reservists will decline. I doubt it will ever completely disappear, but I'm confident that it will be considerably smaller in the future. In the interim it will continue, and there will be periods from one to three years when we will need qualified personnel from the regular component to support and replace those positions that are vacant.
I would also like you to understand that not all the reservists now employed by the Canadian Forces are also annuitants. Of the 3,000 or so corporals, only 336 are annuitants. In fact, only one in four reservists currently employed on a full-time basis is an annuitant.
As mentioned earlier, I'm responsible for the policies that govern the personnel administration of the employment of reservists. This policy allows for augmentation of the regular force by reservists in two ways. The first allows for the temporary employment of reservists in administrative or instructional positions. The second allows for employment of reservists in regular force positions or in approved operations.
Embedded within the policy are also rules relating to the employment of reservists who are also Canadian Forces annuitants. These rules apply to both options just described. The Canadian Forces has two options available in which a reservist who is also a Canadian Forces annuitant can be employed on a full-time basis. Those rules and regulations are defined by the Treasury Board of Canada.
Option one limits the period of employment to a maximum of 330 days in any one period of 365 days.
The second option allows for the continuous, full-time employment of the reservist. In option one, the reservist continues to draw his or her annuity. In the second option, the reservist is required to contribute to the Canadian Forces pension fund after 365 days of employment, and the annuity ceases.
This, in a nutshell, is the policy relevant to today's discussion.
We are now available to respond to your questions and comments. Thank you.