Canadian military reports steady decline in sexual misconduct complaints

OTTAWA — Canada's military says it is making progress in the fight against sexual misconduct in the ranks, citing a new report that documents a steady decline in the number of complaints lodged with commanders over the past three years.

Still, Canadian Armed Forces members continue to report hundreds of incidents of inappropriate and even criminal behaviour to their chain of command each year.

The report, released today, says commanders received a total of 302 complaints of sexual misconduct between April 2018 and March 2019, a 25 per cent decrease from 2017-18 and 33 per cent fewer than 2016-17.

The head of the military's sexual-misconduct response team says more information is needed to ensure the trends are real.

But Commodore Rebecca Patterson says there are reasons for optimism given the report's findings and those of a Statistics Canada survey whose results were released earlier this year.

That survey of 36,000 service members found 70 per cent of military members had witnessed or experienced sexualized or discriminatory behaviour over the previous 12 months — 10 per cent fewer than when a similar poll was conducted two years earlier.

© 2019 The Canadian Press