Canadian Military Attrition at Highest Rate in 15 Years: Leaked Documents

Canadian Military Attrition at Highest Rate in 15 Years: Leaked Documents
Chief of the Defence Staff Wayne Eyre arrives to appear before the House of Commons standing committee on National Defence in Ottawa, Oct. 18, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)
Peter Wilson

The Canadian military’s attrition rate has reached its highest level in 15 years amounting to a “workforce crisis,” warned defence chief, Gen. Wayne Eyre, in a leaked briefing note prepared for the Armed Forces Council.

“Although attrition was forecast to be higher than average for two years post-pandemic, we are realizing likely 1000 higher than forecast, the highest in 15 years,” Eyre said in the note, which was obtained by the Ottawa Citizen.

The Department of National Defence told The Epoch Times in an email that the 2021-2022 combined attrition rate for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) regular forces and primary reserve forces was 9.3 percent.

National Defence also said the CAF’s attrition rate is up from 6.9 percent in 2020-2021 and 8.6 percent in 2019-2020.

The Epoch Times also obtained leaked data from the military’s attrition-tracking software that showed the CAF’s attrition rate was just over 12 percent as of May 2022.

The data showed that 20 generals and almost 60 colonels had departed the military at the time, along with about 200 lieutenant colonels. Additionally, over 600 captains and around 400 majors had also left the force.

Corporals had the highest attrition rate at the time, with over 2,700 leaving the force. Over 880 sergeants and 450 master warrant officers had also left.

Eyre’s leaked briefing note also said the military is undergoing a “workforce crisis,” which he plans to combat with what he called a “reconstitution” of the CAF over the next eight years in an effort to raise staffing numbers.

“We need to rebuild the Armed Forces, we need to get the numbers back up,” Eyre told The Canadian Press in an interview earlier this month.
“We’ve got to do it with a sense of urgency and priority because it is affecting our ability to respond around the world,” he said, adding that it will take a “whole-of-society effort” to bring CAF recruitment numbers back up to sustainable levels.


At the beginning of October, Eyre halted all of the military’s non-essential activities in order to focus resources on recruitment and retention.
“Personnel and staffing issues, combined with a changing demographic and expectations of our existing and potential work force, continue to challenge both the strength and the readiness of the CAF,” Eyre wrote in an order issued to senior officers on Oct. 6.

Eyre’s order said the CAF must “create an institutional climate that is more welcoming and inclusive to all Canadians” in order to solve its retention and recruitment problems.

“The interim goal is to address shortcomings that are preventing the CAF more specifically from being in the position it needs to in order to excel as a modern and combat-ready military force,” he wrote.

Eyre added that there has been a “significant loss of experience and expertise” within the military and said Canada has a special need to strengthen its armed forces considering the current “geopolitical environment.”

“Adversaries and Allies are outpacing us in the evolution of technology advancement and ability to operate in a pan-domain environment, making it an imperative for National Defence to evolve and improve itself to ensure we are a relevant and trusted partner.”

The Canadian Press contributed to this report.