Canadian Rangers are the eyes and ears of the military in isolated, coastal and sparsely populated areas of northern Canada. However, in order to carry out their duty, members of self-sufficient force often have to resort to using their personal equipment.

The problem is when a Ranger’s equipment is lost or damaged in the line duty that Ranger has to wait several weeks. It’s a loss that impacts more than a single person, according to the Canadian Armed Forces’ Ombudsman.

The office of the CAF Ombudman is currently conducting interviews across the country as part of an overall examination of the Rangers organization. The issue of delays in being reimbursed for the loss or damaged personal equipment is especially troubling for Rangers.

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“This is because the impact of the delays extends beyond the individual Ranger – it can be felt throughout the community,” according to Ombudsman Gary Walbourne. “For example, when personal equipment is damaged or lost during an operation, a Canadian Ranger may not be able to hunt or fish, activities often critical to their livelihoods.”

Reimbursements are handled by the Directorate of Compensation Benefits Administration, located in Ottawa.

According to the DCBA, loss, and damage claims are processed as quickly as possible once a claim is received. In 2016, that meant a majority of claims were processed within 8.5 to 17 weeks.

Walbourne said his office found the most common reasons for the delays were:

1)    Lack of access in remote locations – particularly in those communities only accessible by air

Delay in Reporting: The Ranger will most likely experience a delay in reporting damage to personal equipment that occurs during an authorized activity when no military staff member is present.

Delay in Obtaining Quotes: It is very challenging and takes an unreasonable amount of time for a Canadian Ranger to obtain quotes for damaged parts or equipment.

Delay in Obtaining Signatures: There are instances when computers are not accessible. Claims must be filled out at headquarters and subsequently mailed – and sent back and forth to the community for the Canadian Ranger and then Commanding Officer’s signature or approval.

Delay in Reimbursement(s): The lack of access to staff and to office locations can cause delays for Canadian Rangers seeking reimbursements.

2)    The issue of incomplete and/or inaccurately filled out paperwork

Standard Operating Procedures: There is no standard operating procedure observed by all units for filling out and submitting claims.

File Complexity: More complex claims may require further review, clarification, and additional signatures, by the different levels of the organisation

The office of the ombudsman will continue to provide periodic updates on specific issues, such as health care entitlements, assessing and monitoring medical fitness. It will publish a full report by Fall 2017.