Skip to Main Content

Trusted to Serve

The CAF Ethos describes who we are as a profession. Ethos is defined as the characteristic spirit of a culture, community or organization as manifested in its beliefs and aspirations. The CAF Ethos comprises seventeen elements categorized as three ethical principles, six military values, and eight professional expectations.

It is our individual level of commitment to a set of principled behaviours that determines our strength of character
It is our individual level of commitment to a set of principled behaviours that determines our strength of character

Culture Change

Every member of the CAF and the Department of National Defence (DND) team is entitled to work in an environment of mutual respect, dignity and inclusion, where they have the opportunity to contribute and achieve their full potential.

What We're Doing

These initiatives are among just some of the work being done across the entire Defence Team to achieve lasting change, as DND/CAF continues to build an environment where all members feel supported by their organization, and are able to achieve their full potential.

  • Addressing Sexual Misconduct

    Recently, a Training Needs Assessment was conducted that primarily focused on sexual misconduct within the ranks and resulted in several recommendations to develop a holistic approach to address training and education requirements across the conduct spectrum. This will be a critical part of targeting and eliminating harmful behaviours from our institution, and will bolster the broader CAF culture change efforts.

  • Gender Inclusivity

    To enable military members to express their rank in the way that best matches their gender and in an effort to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all our members, regardless of their personal gender identity, gender-inclusive military ranks have been introduced. As well, the sex designation on the military’s driver’s licence has been removed.

  • Employment Equity

    The CAF Employment Equity Plan (2021-26) will guide efforts to increase the representation, inclusion, and participation of under-represented groups, across all levels of the organization. Importantly, the CAF Employment Equity Plan holds leadership accountable in measurable ways, by laying out specific reporting questions that they must answer each reporting cycle, to see where they are meeting their goals, and where adjustments need to be made.

  • Inclusive Promotion & Selection Process

    Two key initiatives will improve CAF promotion and selection processes: all scoring criteria (SCRIT) are subject to a Gender Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) review, and the fall National Selection Boards now feature procedural improvements including bias awareness training and mandating that one voting member be from an equity seeking group. Senior leadership appointments and promotions will also be subject to additional evaluations, including a 360 degree assessment.

  • Health & Wellness

    On March 4th, DND/CAF launched the Total Health and Wellness Strategy – a comprehensive strategy that focuses on improving the health and wellness of Defence Team members and promises a strengthened workforce, best able to meet professional and personal challenges. Over $950 million will be invested in new and existing health and wellness programs benefitting all Defence Team members.

  • Updated Nursing & Pumping Policy

    Since March, CAF members have been permitted to wear nursing T-shirts while in uniform and they can now be reimbursed for these items. The CAF’s first Nursing and Pumping Policy provides CAF leaders the necessary guidance on inclusive practices with respect to nursing infants and requires all Commanding Officers to establish a lactation plan to support their members.

  • Compassionate & Short Leave (Time Off)

    The Director of Compensation and Benefits has introduced new sub-types of compassionate leave and short leave, in the Canadian Forces Leave Policy Manual. To help reduce personal and family stress, CAF members will be able to request time off in the tragic situations of pregnancy or adoption loss, as victims of family violence, or as parents of young victims of crime. Short leave may be requested for family-related situations and religious and spiritual accommodation.

  • Updated Uniform and Appearance Standards

    The upcoming Dress Instructions update will provide an inclusive, single standard for all and will focus on removing the barriers to members’ choice of clothing and other aspects of their appearance, honouring the diversity of our members in uniform while continuing to prioritize operational effectiveness and safety.

Ethical Principles

1.

Respect The Dignity Of All Persons

Everyone must be treated with respect and humanity at all times and in all places. Everyone deserves to serve in a safe, inclusive environment. As military professionals, we must respect the dignity of all persons at all times.

2.

Serve Canada Before Self

CAF personnel prioritize service to the country, the military and their teammates ahead of themselves as a personal commitment to mission success. As military professionals, we place service before self to maximize team effectiveness.

3.

Obey And Support Lawful Authority

CAF personnel act decisively in following lawful commands and orders to achieve mission success. As military professionals, we always obey and support lawful orders and the authority that issues them.

Military Values

Those who are loyal always show respect, challenge unacceptable behaviour, support their teammates in difficult situations, help others, ensure that their conduct and performance is always a credit to the CAF, ensure others’ well-being and safety, and are willing to risk their health or life for that of another.

Those who embody integrity take responsibility for their decisions and actions and accept the consequences, good or bad. They own their mistakes, learn from them and share their insights. They assess conduct and performance transparently and honestly. They are reliable and trusted to complete tasks, are sincere, trustworthy and honest, and act on what they believe to be right. Their conduct will stand up to the closest public scrutiny, they are dedicated to fairness and justice, never use their official role for personal gain, and instead of making excuses, they make things right.

Those who are courageous take calculated risks and learn from their mistakes, have the will and drive to get things done despite any danger or difficulty and do what is right despite pressure to do otherwise. They speak out and correct things when something is wrong, admit to needing help and accept it, resist peer pressure, remain steadfast in the face of adversity, and do what must be done despite personal risk.

People who embody excellence seek opportunities for personal improvement, are curious, ask questions and seek advice. They embrace valid standards, they are open to experimenting with new concepts and processes, they help others to improve their standards of conduct and performance, they pursue lifelong learning through additional training and education, and they look for ways to improve their workplace, their trade, occupation and profession.

Those who are inclusive reject racism, sexism, heteronormativity, homophobia, xenophobia or any other form of hateful, discriminatory or hurtful behaviour, conduct or association. They take a proactive approach to prevent, stop and report such conduct and support those affected. Inclusive leaders and team members take deliberate steps to identify and challenge inequities both within their teams and within the institution.

Those who are accountable live our ethos, help others to embody the ethos, do not hesitate to respectfully question or correct others (including superiors) and routinely discuss the application of our ethos in daily military service with others. They identify, report and change any elements of military culture that oppose the CAF Ethos.

Professional Expectations

Those with a strong sense of duty put the mission first, they are dedicated to the completion of a task despite hardship and obstacles, maintain a positive attitude, give focus and attention to the task at hand, are reliable, demonstrate initiative and complete tasks to the highest professional standards.

Those who accept unlimited liability never give in or shy away from work, they are willing to push beyond personal limits to succeed, they do what needs to be done regardless of personal risk, they carry on despite risks and hardship, they ensure other’s well-being, and they take calculated risks for unselfish reasons without thought for reward.

People who embody fighting spirit push past their own perceived limits, they always take on tasks no matter how challenging they might appear, they remain calm, confident and demonstrate resolve in the face of extreme adversity, and they are relentless in ensuring high levels of ethical conduct across the profession.

Leaders make difficult decisions based on sound moral principles and commit to them even in the face of adversity, they seek out and take on responsibility and are accountable for their actions, they recognize their own limitations and that of others, they mentor, coach and develop subordinates, and they provide professional advice to superiors. They also develop CAF culture by purposefully pursuing self-development for the benefit of their team, embodying all aspects of the CAF Ethos and inspiring the same in others, and, most importantly, they promote the welfare of their subordinates by creating a healthy workplace.

Those who are disciplined are critical of their own conduct and behaviour first, and challenge unacceptable behaviour in others. They enforce discipline and uphold professional standards, they take ownership and do what is right without incentive or reward, they demonstrate self-control in the face of adversity, and they cultivate cohesion through teamwork.

Those who strengthen teams prioritize having a positive attitude and influence, they pull the team together to complete a task, they respect, recognize and develop the diverse talent within the team, always contribute to high morale, and foster a safe and healthy workplace.

Those who take readiness seriously attain and maintain high personal and professional standards, they push themselves to higher levels of physical fitness, they maintain open and honest relationships with others, they balance military service and personal life to keep themselves, their family and their friends well, and they communicate honestly with their superiors to ensure such a balance.

Additionally, leaders that commit to stewardship make sure their subordinates are completely prepared for their mission, they prioritize their subordinates’ well-being, keep their subordinates well-informed and highly motivated in the performance of their duties, and shepherd resources to allow for longer-term goals. Stewards ensure the long-term health, credibility and viability of the Profession of Arms.

Duty

Those with a strong sense of duty put the mission first, they are dedicated to the completion of a task despite hardship and obstacles, maintain a positive attitude, give focus and attention to the task at hand, are reliable, demonstrate initiative and complete tasks to the highest professional standards.

Accepting Unlimited Liability

Those who accept unlimited liability never give in or shy away from work, they are willing to push beyond personal limits to succeed, they do what needs to be done regardless of personal risk, they carry on despite risks and hardship, they ensure other’s well-being, and they take calculated risks for unselfish reasons without thought for reward.

Fighting Spirit

People who embody fighting spirit push past their own perceived limits, they always take on tasks no matter how challenging they might appear, they remain calm, confident and demonstrate resolve in the face of extreme adversity, and they are relentless in ensuring high levels of ethical conduct across the profession.

Leadership

Leaders make difficult decisions based on sound moral principles and commit to them even in the face of adversity, they seek out and take on responsibility and are accountable for their actions, they recognize their own limitations and that of others, they mentor, coach and develop subordinates, and they provide professional advice to superiors. They also develop CAF culture by purposefully pursuing self-development for the benefit of their team, embodying all aspects of the CAF Ethos and inspiring the same in others, and, most importantly, they promote the welfare of their subordinates by creating a healthy workplace.

Discipline

Those who are disciplined are critical of their own conduct and behaviour first, and challenge unacceptable behaviour in others. They enforce discipline and uphold professional standards, they take ownership and do what is right without incentive or reward, they demonstrate self-control in the face of adversity, and they cultivate cohesion through teamwork.

Teamwork

Those who strengthen teams prioritize having a positive attitude and influence, they pull the team together to complete a task, they respect, recognize and develop the diverse talent within the team, always contribute to high morale, and foster a safe and healthy workplace.

Readiness

Those who take readiness seriously attain and maintain high personal and professional standards, they push themselves to higher levels of physical fitness, they maintain open and honest relationships with others, they balance military service and personal life to keep themselves, their family and their friends well, and they communicate honestly with their superiors to ensure such a balance.

Stewardship

Additionally, leaders that commit to stewardship make sure their subordinates are completely prepared for their mission, they prioritize their subordinates’ well-being, keep their subordinates well-informed and highly motivated in the performance of their duties, and shepherd resources to allow for longer-term goals. Stewards ensure the long-term health, credibility and viability of the Profession of Arms.