Madam Speaker, I stand here today as the member of Parliament for Fredericton. I am proud that over the last three-and-a-half years I have had the distinct privilege to meet with many of the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces who serve at 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown.
Centred in the town of Oromocto, Base Gagetown is the second-largest military base in Canada and the home of Canada's army. Gagetown is not just a place of work for the 7,500 military members and civilian personnel, it is home to countless families. It is a school. It is a medical centre.
Base Gagetown is an economic driver for New Brunswick. It is the second-largest public sector employer in the province and the third-largest employer overall. It contributes hundreds of millions of dollars to our local and provincial economy each year. The benefits the base brings to our community are far too many to count.
Canadian Armed Forces members at Base Gagetown do not only make Fredericton, New Maryland, Oromocto and the Grand Lake region a more vibrant place to live, as members of the military, they put their lives on the line for our country and give up their own safety to defend ours.
We can never match that honour and sacrifice, but what we can do is ensure that the structures within the military are as strong as they can be so Canadian Armed Forces personnel and their families never have to see their own system as an obstacle to overcome.
Military members keep us safe, but we must protect them as well. By amending the National Defence Act, Bill C-77 is ensuring better protection for the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces under the military justice system. Bill C-77 means a more just and equitable future for the 6,500 members of the Canadian Armed Forces at Base Gagetown and for thousands more who serve across the country.
The very nature of the military means its justice system must consider a different set of demands, from the hazards of war to the hierarchal chain of command. The Canadian Armed Forces must always be able to enforce discipline within that chain of command, so it can be ready and able to respond to any threat.
Bill C-77 commits to strengthening the victims rights within the unique framework of the military justice system. From ensuring that victims of inappropriate conduct by members of the Canadian Armed Forces have the right to information, protection, participation and restitution to establishing a new victim liaison officer to help guide victims through the military justice system, we are ensuring that the victims rights are not only respected but that they are strengthened.
When victims come forward with a complaint, we must ensure they are fully supported. Anything less is unacceptable. Bill C-77 is about making real changes in the lives of our service members. The impact of those changes will be felt across the country, from the Military Family Resource Centre and the Royal Canadian Legion in Oromocto all the way to Alert to Esquimalt to St. John's.
Victims rights matter, and that is why these changes matter as well.
As the Minister of National Defence has made clear, the Canadian Armed Forces welcomes the Auditor General's recommendations on ways to strengthen the administration of military justice. Our government is committed to maintaining a fair, modern and robust military justice system. We thank the Auditor General for this important work and accept the recommendations.
Unfortunately this review reflects the previous government's neglect of not only the military, but also the military justice system, which is an important part of military discipline and morale within the Canadian Armed Forces. Unlike the previous government, we are committed to ensuring the efficiency of the military justice system. Unlike the previous government, which allowed delays to fester, we are committed to ensuring a reliable military justice system.
We have already started to address some of the Auditor General's recommendations, including a case management system to monitor and manage cases as they progress through the system, extending the postings of defence counsel and military prosecutors to better serve both the accused and the Crown and reinstating the military justice round table, which the previous government abolished. These are just some of the measures we have taken to address the report and we will continue to work to ensure an effective military justice system.
To get back to the matter at hand, the Auditor General's findings reinforce that the judge advocate general of the Canadian Armed Forces, or JAG, is taking the right approach to modernizing the system. The JAG, Commodore Geneviève Bernatchez, oversees the administration of military justice in the forces. She has embraced the Auditor General's recommendations, which will guide her efforts to ensure the military justice system meets the expectations of Canadians and the needs of the Canadian Armed Forces. She has already developed a detailed action plan to respond to all nine recommendations, and members of the military are already seeing improvements to the administration of the military justice system.
Many important changes are already under way, with the office of the JAG and the director of military prosecutions actively implementing measures to improve how military justice is administered. For instance, even before the Auditor General made his recommendations, the office of the JAG began to develop a new electronic case management tool and database to capture the relevant data on all military justice cases. This will directly respond to a number of the Auditor General's recommendations to identify and address delays in military justice processes and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the system.
The justice, administration and information management system, JAIMS, will allow for the real-time tracking of files as they proceed through the system. It will incorporate and enable the enforcement of time standards that will be established following a review conducted by the JAG as part of the response from the Department of National Defence to the Auditor General's recommendations. JAIMS will allow military justice stakeholders and decision-makers to access case data in real time and be prompted when their action is required. This will help reduce delays by improving how the military justice system's files are managed.
This is not simply about speeding up the system. We want to ensure the system is working and working well. As members may have heard my colleagues say, the military justice system is vital to the ability of the Canadian Armed Forces to achieve its missions in Canada and around the world. lt cannot and will not remain static. The military justice system, like the civilian criminal justice system, is constantly evolving to remain fully compliant with Canadian law, norms and values. That is why our government tabled Bill C-77, which proposes to introduce a declaration of victims rights to incorporate indigenous sentencing considerations and reform summary trials.
In Canada's defence policy, “Strong, Secure, Engaged”, our government has made an unprecedented commitment to provide the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces with the support they need and deserve. That includes the assurance that military members will continue to have access to a fair and effective military justice system as they bravely serve Canadians at home and abroad. With Bill C-77 and the many progressive changes being instituted by the Office of the Judge Advocate General, we are clearly delivering on this pledge.
The Auditor General's report offers valuable insights and tangible recommendations that will help us further enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the military justice system. The changes the Auditor General has urged, many of which we are already acting on, will ensure the military justice system remains valuable and relevant in contributing to the operational readiness of the Canadian Armed Forces.