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Canadian Army Struggles to Recruit

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Maria Gill
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(Ottawa) The Canadian Armed Forces are sounding the alarm about their recruitment problems: they lack recruits to fill thousands of vacancies in their ranks.

Posted at 9:26
Updated at 12:11 PM.

Lee Bertium
Canadian Press

The problem is so dire that the officer in charge of recruitment and training describes the situation as a crisis.

Brigadier General Christa Brody said the Army has received only half of the applications needed to meet its goal of adding 5,900 new recruits to its ranks this year.

“We started gaining momentum when the pandemic hit,” she points out.

The pandemic has significantly undermined the efforts of the Canadian military. Recruitment centers and training camps had to be closed. As a result, only 2,000 people were recruited in 2020-2021, less than half the required.

The military enlisted nearly 4,800 people the following year after the lifting of restrictions related to combating COVID-19.

“Employment is definitely in a state of crisis right now,” General Brody said.

About one in ten military jobs are vacant. This shortage could also have repercussions on the future hierarchy due to the fact that fewer people are available to climb the ladder.

Cultural issues within the military hampered the military’s efforts. Allegations of sexual misconduct and a growing rift between Canadian society and the military convinced the armed forces to seek greater diversity within their ranks.

Employment has expanded to include underrepresented groups, such as women and indigenous people. The military also wants to create a more inclusive workplace, particularly by relaxing certain dress codes, a strategy that is beginning to pay off, according to General Brody.

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But few Canadians choose a military career without knowing exactly why.

We don’t have a good answer to this question. There are a large number of factors and elements that could explain this, she says.

The Ministry of National Defense is trying to better understand this problem and find solutions. He plans to offer financial incentives and improve the balance between family and work. We also wish the army to be better seen among the population, General Brody states.

The officer cannot say whether prioritizing diversity in recruitment helps or harms the Army’s quantitative efforts. How many applications from white youth have been rejected?

We cannot measure the effect at this time. It’s too early, General Brody says. To be very, very clear, we want qualified candidates and those qualified candidates are those who above all reflect the values ​​of the Canadian Armed Forces. »

first master 2e Row Andrew Clark is the recruiting manager for the Ottawa region. In recent weeks, her teams have visited various events such as the Comic Book Conference and the Aéro Gatineau-Ottawa to entice people to join the Canadian Armed Forces.

“We sell the benefits of being a member of the Canadian Armed Forces,” he says. Pension plan, insurance, permanent training and the possibility of having an interesting career that can take you to many places on the planet and pay for it. »

Recruits have goals to achieve, including a minimum goal for women and a maximum goal for men. They are encouraged to recruit indigenous people and members of what the military continues to call “visible minorities”.

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Mr. Clark agrees, “Diversity is what we’re looking for.”

But recruitment is difficult in many places.

“Recruitment is declining even in places like Kingston where we have received a large number of applications for membership,” regrets Major Simon Rocillo, who is responsible for recruiting in northern and eastern Ontario.

The officer explains this decline by many factors such as the state of the economy, the lack of prestigious operations such as Afghanistan, and concerns about sexual misconduct.

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