Canadian Forces may recruit landed immigrants

The Canadian Armed Forces may consider allowing landed immigrants to enlists in order to meet its increasing recruitment targets.

The Canadian Armed Forces may consider allowing landed immigrants to enlist in order to meet its increasing recruitment targets.

The change in policy was being considered and would be decided upon in the next few months, Capt. Helene Tremblay told The Gazette in a report published Mondayby theMontreal daily.

The military has been focusing on the recruitment process due to increased demand and reports that have indicated a need for specialized human resource strategies and better customer service when dealing with applicants.

Speaking to delegates to a conference of the Canadian Bar Association in St. John's last week Gen. Rick Hillier promised big changes

"We've thrown, if you will, a transformational grenade in the middle of our recruiting process," the chief of defence staff said.

"[In] a 15-minute conversational interview, you can pretty much make a judgment whether this is a winner — a swimmer or a non-swimmer."

Hillier said he wants 30 per cent of recruits enrolled within a week, and an additional 40 per cent within a month. Currently, it takes 90 days on average for a recruit to be finished with the process and ready for basic training.

Boosting the ranks

In February, Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor announced the government's commitment to increase the size of the regular force by 15,000 members to 75,000 and augment the reserve force by 10,000 personnel.

Two separate reports this year have highlighted the challenges the military faces in meeting recruitment targets. In May, Auditor General Sheila Fraser outlined several technical shortfalls as well as the challenges faced by shifting demographics.

In a report released last month, military ombudsman Yves Côté said more timely, service-friendly recruiting needed implementation at all stages of the process in order to both meet target numbers and prevent applicants from being deterred.

Hillier acknowledged that the Canadian military has lost out on qualified recruits in the past due to delays.

One cause has been the need for physical exams conducted by military physicians. A report in the Toronto Star last week indicated the military was also contemplating accepting recruits who bring along a note from their own doctor saying they're fit for military service.

The military has unveiled Operation Connection as one part of their strategy. Representatives will be on hand to talk to the public at Toronto's Canadian National Exhibition, Vancouver's Pacific National Exhibition and the Calgary Stampede, in addition to several smaller events.

The U.S. military includes naturalized citizens and non-citizens. In 2002, the traditional five-year waiting period to apply for U.S. citizenship was waived for foreign-born members of the military.