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Canadian military cadets programs face cuts

March 28, 2014, Ottawa - Canada’s military cadet program hopes to cut its full-time administrative staff by half and redirect the savings into more programs for youth, says the organization’s top officer.


March 31, 2014
By The Ottawa Citizen

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Rear Admiral Jennifer Bennett  said she hopes to cut the 806
full-time staff by about 400 over a five-year period. The move is part
of a larger overhaul of the program that involves youths aged 12 to 18
who participate in various activities while learning about the Canadian
Forces. There are almost 53,000 cadets in units across the country.

“I need to renew,” said Bennett, chief of reserves and cadets. “I need to update. I need to refresh.”

The
proposed reductions in administration also come after a recent National
Defence audit raised concerns the cadet program had grown bloated with
managers whose salaries eat up much of the budget that is supposed to be
used to support youth.

The cadet program is funded by the
Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces with help from
civilian sponsors, the Navy League, Army Cadet League and Air Cadet
League of Canada. It is one of the largest federally sponsored youth
programs in Canada.

The program is under the control and
supervision of DND, although cadets and the Junior Canadian Rangers, in
northern communities, are not members of the Canadian Forces.

The
2013 evaluation by the Department of National Defence’s internal auditor
pointed out that costs for the cadet program have jumped by 40 per cent
over the last 20 years while numbers of participants dropped by 15 per
cent.

DND’s chief of review services also noted that management
and administration is consuming more than half of the cadet budget. The
budget for 2012-2013 was $213 million, Bennett said.

Most of the
increases can be linked to the growth in full-time paid managers at its
national headquarters and at regional offices, according to the
evaluation. Over the past two decades, management of the cadet program
has been “professionalized,” it added.

Bennett said some of the
increases in full-time staff came when regular force military members
were sent overseas and the cadets had to rely on reserve members to fill
staff positions. Salaries for regular force personnel do not come out
of the cadet budget, while pay for reserve force members does.

In
addition, Bennett noted that some of the activities that cadets take
part in, such as glider training and adventure camps, require more adult
supervision.

Still, Bennett noted that the system will have to
change. “I have to review everything from the employment model we have
for our adult leaders, who needs to be paid, how often, whether we use a
stipend or the reserve pay scale.”

In addition, the review and
renewal process unfolding over the coming years will examine the various
programs offered to cadets and whether there is overlap in those
activities.

In October, the Conservative government announced the
five-year renewal plan for the cadets. The plan proposes to increase
participation in the program to 70,000.

Defence Minister Rob
Nicholson said at the time that the cadets offer young Canadians a
chance to experience the military as well as foster good citizenship.
Highlighting the military for Canadians has become part of the
Conservative government’s brand.

The government is not expected to provide any new funding for the expansion.

Bennett said the focus will be ensuring proper support to cadets at the unit level.

“I
think this program is incredible,” she said. “I want to do everything
possible to enhance and expand that experience so more Canadians have
that opportunity.”


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