Details of Findings and Observations
The vast majority of issues identified by families were common from one location to the other. Prominent issues had been previously highlighted by families and require additional focus to achieve resolution. Nonetheless, it is important to bring these issues to the attention of RCAF leadership so they may be properly addressed.
Following is a summary of the major issues identified by RCAF families. Due to the complex nature of some of these issues, they are being considered at multiple levels. These are not listed in any order or priority:
Childcare remains the primary concern for families with younger aged children and the acquisition of dependable, quality childcare is a most important aspect for today’s dual income families. In addition, it is often difficult for Francophone families to find adequate childcare in English-speaking communities. The reverse also applies to Anglophone families living in francophone communities. Numerous parents are experiencing significant challenges in securing suitable childcare for children with special needs, or childcare services outside normal working hours;
- Family Doctors
Significant progress has been made in this area in several parts of the country; however, a large number of families are experiencing long delays while attempting to find a family doctor. There is a sense of having to “start from scratch”, every time a move occurs - particularly with regards to wait lists for specialist services and procedures;
- Post Living Differential (PLD) Allowance
A great sense of frustration remains amongst families regarding the current PLD’s inherent discrepancies between location and the complete lack of transparency with regards to its calculation process/model;
- Rental Housing Units (RHUs)
Most RHU occupants were highly critical of the RHUs’ quality and relatively high rental costs. It was also the overwhelming consensus of all occupants that RHU rents must be de-linked from the local market. Better rental cost standardization across the country is an aspect which weighed heavily on the minds of families;
- Spousal Employment
It is commonly difficult for military spouses to pursue and retain a rewarding and challenging career in a specific field. The “stigma” attached to the transient/mobile military spouse significantly decreases the odds of a potential employer hiring these individuals. Specialized qualifications or licenses are difficult to retain when moving from province to province and there is often a need to re-certify and re-qualify. Moreover, substantial fees tend to be associated with re-applying;
- Military Family Resource Centres (MFRCs)
The vast majority of families were very satisfied with the level and quality of services provided by local MFRCs. There are, however, significant variations between locations as it pertains to the depth and variety of services available. Many families were of the opinion that minimal/core military family support services should be mandatory at every MFRC, understanding, of course, that some services must be tailored to the local area. In addition, the vast majority of services currently provided by MFRCs are “female-centric” and tailored to caregivers. An effort must be made to provide inclusive programming that better meets the demands of today’s varied family type and size;
- Personnel Support Programs (PSP)
Many families were extremely pleased with the current level of varied programs provided by the PSP organization. Nonetheless, there is a clear need for better Recreation Pass price standardization across the country, in addition to a requirement for Recreation Cards to remain valid from one military establishment, while visiting another Canadian military installation across the country;
There continues to be a severe gap in communication between the uniformed military establishment and RCAF families. Many families continued to express a sense of frustration at the lack of readily available, accurate sources of information related to family support services;
- Dependant Education – Special Needs
Many families have experienced frustration with the need to have dependants with special needs re-assessed following a move between provinces. Provincial health authorities and local boards of education (or both) often do not recognize assessments and Individual Education or Learning Plans from other jurisdictions. This can result in dependants being unable to access necessary services in a timely manner following a posting. This shortfall can have both short and long term effects on successful dependant education.
Family Support Flowchart
To address the issues listed above, the Family Support Team (FST) will follow the process illustrated in the following graphic (which starts from the bottom and moves upwards).