Military recruitment remains short more than 4,000 members despite multi-million dollar advertising campaigns, says a senior officer. Commanders yesterday told the Commons public accounts committee that targets are not being met.
“Our number right now is 56,232 who can go on a mission today at a moment’s notice,” said Lieutenant-General Charles Lamarre, commander of the Military Personnel Command. “So, being 4,000 short – that’s a big target for us to make up.”
Of 44,000 people who applied to join the military last year, a total 4,542 were signed up. Actual recruitment levels must average between 5,000 and 6,000 a year, by official estimate.
The Auditor General in a 2016 analysis concluded the military will not meet its target for a standing force of 68,000 soldiers, sailors and air crew by 2019. Lt.-Gen. Lamarre blamed shortfalls in part on closure of recruiting centres due to budget cuts.
“That resulted in a loss of 180 positions, many of which involved in processing files,” said Lamarre; “By the middle of June we’ll have 20 new file managers and will be receiving another 20 by the end of the fiscal year.”
John Forster, Deputy Defence Minister, said the military faced the same labour shortages as other employers. “In some occupations where we are struggling to recruit, it’s the same all over Canada,” said Forster; “We’re competing with the private sector for pilots and doctors. We’re facing the same challenges as the private sector.”
Forster said women now comprise 15 percent of the Canadian Armed Forces. The military three years ago set a 25 percent target for women recruits. Women were not accepted in all branches of the military until 2000, when female submariners were first recruited.
Research commissioned by the Department of National Defence has concluded the military is unattractive to women and minorities despite a yearly advertising budget of more than $1.7 million. Most women surveyed, 77 percent, said they had have never thought of joining the military and considered the work unappealing and dangerous, according to 2016 polling data by Earnscliffe Strategy Group.
The military in earlier 2014 research found minority groups also considered enlistment a “last resort”; “Most did mention the obligation and a sense of being ‘trapped’ in the military with a lack of personal freedom to leave when they desired,” said a study Visible Minorities Recruitment & The Canadian Armed Forces by Ipsos Reid.
By Jason Unrau