Faster Citizenship Pathway for Permanent Residents Joining Military, Says National Defence

Faster Citizenship Pathway for Permanent Residents Joining Military, Says National Defence
Gen. Wayne Eyre, Chief of the Defence Staff, speaks during a military announcement at CFB Trenton in Trenton, Ont., on June 20, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Lars Hagberg)
Noé Chartier

In order to address a personnel crisis, the Canadian military has now expanded the recruitment of non-citizens who are permanent residents and it says the country will expedite granting them citizenship.

“Enrolment of permanent residents will help us grow our military with qualified, well-trained people who choose a career in uniform,” said Minister of Defence Anita Anand in a Dec. 5 statement.

While the official announcement was made on Dec. 5, a Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) social media account had announced the expanded recruitment policy publicly in early November.

The policy itself also came into force on Oct. 18, and public affairs officer Major Brian Kominar told The Epoch Times the CAF has received 2,400 applications from permanent residents since Nov. 1.

The Department of National Defence (DND) says that the authority for allowing permanent residents to join has now been delegated from Chief of Defence Staff Wayne Eyre to the commanders of the Military Personnel Command and the Canadian Forces Recruiting Group.

Trained soldiers from foreign militaries could already join the CAF if they were permanent residents before the new directive was issued. Now civilians who hold permanent residency status and do not have prior training will be allowed to join as well.

DND says that citizenship applications from CAF members with permanent residency will be processed on a priority basis by Immigration Canada, with the country offering “facilitated pathways.”

Kominar sought to dampen expectations, however, given the length of time it can take to process applications from permanent residents. DND says work is being done with other departments to speed up the security clearance process.

Bringing in non-citizens to defend the country will carry an amount of risk due to potential mixed loyalties, but DND says the commander of the Canadian Forces Recruiting Group will take decisions that avoid being “detrimental to the national interest.”

Kominar remarked that the United States and Australia also offer citizenship pathways for members of its armed forces who are permanent residents.

‘Workforce Crisis’

The move to expand CAF’s recruiting pool comes at a time when the military is facing its highest attrition level in 15 years.
General Eyre called the issue a “workforce crisis” in a leaked briefing note obtained by the Ottawa Citizen, saying a “whole-of-society effort” is needed to bring recruitment to a sustainable level.
Internal CAF data obtained by The Epoch Times showed that as of early November, the attrition rate for the military in 2022 was at 13 percent, with 12,067 leaving the forces this year.

DND says that the Regular Force of the CAF currently stands at approximately 63,500 members and needs to be brought to 71,500 to meet its mandate established by Canada’s defence policy. Its goal is to enrol 6,445 members in the Regular Force per year.

The change of policy on recruitment eligibility has been framed by DND as part of “changing the culture” with the CAF.

DND says this is part of its “efforts to build an institution where everyone feels safe, protected, and respected.”

Kominar says there are currently no ongoing discussions about the length of time the new policy will be kept in place.

Peter Wilson contributed to this report.