Military’s new housing plan under fire over living allowance cut – National

The Canadian military has been criticized for plans to cut thousands of soldiers from their cost of living benefits without notice.

The military announced last week that about 7,700 military members will no longer receive replacements from July and will be replaced with new housing benefits that commanders say will better help those most in need.

Social media and online forums dedicated to military personnel have voiced their frustration with the plan, including its shortened timeline. Also, some people are unhappy with the new 10% wage increase over the four years going back to 2021.

Experts say the lack of notice speaks to a larger problem with how the military treats people, with them expressing anger and frustration as the Canadian military struggles with recruitment and retention crises. I am concerned that it is causing

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“We’re pissing people off,” said retired Lt. Gen. Guy Thibaud, formerly deputy chief of defense staff. “And this may be the final straw that pisses them off. It’s not about compensation. They just don’t feel worth it.”

The decision to replace the military’s existing cost of living benefit with a new housing benefit follows a 14-year battle between the Department of Defense and the Finance Committee, the central department that controls federal spending.

The allowance rate, established in 2000 as a way of compensating members for the additional costs of having to live and work in certain communities, was frozen in 2009 after defense and finance officials fought over the program’s costs and parameters. rice field.

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Alan Okros, a Canadian Forces College professor, said that when an agreement is finally reached, member states will eventually see fees raised and entitlements expanded as armed forces residing in parts of the country are not eligible. He said he was convinced.

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“There was a generalized tone and expectation: ‘Look, we’re working on it. … We’re going to sort everything out,'” said Okros, who specializes in military and cultural affairs. “There was a generalized expectation that ‘it could be better.'”

Such expectations are based on the belief that the government will put more money into the pot to compensate the military for their service, especially given that the military is currently dealing with a recruitment and retention crisis. rice field.

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it didn’t happen. Instead, the military says the new housing benefits are fairer and more efficient than previous ones because they are tied to salaries, include more geographic locations, and are about $30 million less a year.

Charlotte Duval-Lantoine, an expert on military culture at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute think tank, said some members who received a living allowance would have considered the money in their budget plans.

“This is the difference that frustrates people the most, because some people are not eligible for this[new benefit]even though they are struggling with the cost of living,” she said. Adjustments will be made.”

The fact that it has been removed in months without prior consultation or warning speaks volumes to how the chain of command treats and communicates with the military, she added.

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“It kind of epitomizes how we talk about personnel policy and how the military communicates with its personnel,” she said. Haven’t heard about it for a while, then we have a new announcement.”

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Housing benefits are also under scrutiny, with concerns that the actual rate is based on the cost of renting a two-bedroom apartment without considering the number of family members. There is an upper limit of

Members also complain that the new pay increases have not kept up with inflation.

Nonetheless, the new benefits and pay increases have sparked a bit of controversy over compensation for military personnel, arguing that the military is relatively well paid and that most Canadians face some form of financial pressure.

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“We have a fairly well-paid military, not only for other allied forces and volunteers, but also for civilians,” said Thibault, who is now chairman of the Defense Institute Institute think-tank council. .

“In terms of economic direction, it’s not just about the Canadian military. It’s a social issue right now about interest rates, inflation, the economy and housing.”

Rather, experts feel the reaction is a symptom of a bigger problem, as the military faces growing demands while suffering from understaffing, outdated equipment and an overhaul of its culture. .

“Our government and Canadians seem to care about the Canadian military,” Thibault said. “But we don’t care about them enough to make it a priority or address some of these long-standing issues.”

© 2023 The Canadian Press

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