My thoughts on the broken recruiting system in Canada


New Member
VIP Professional
Hey all, my first of many topics that I will discuss about Canada's military, from the good and bad, to how things (in my view) should be changed.

Anyone in our military will know just how broke our recruiting system is - and I am not talking from a monetary position (although that has played a role). I am talking about the entire process - from initial application to enrolment to first posting - that is broken. Let me break down the steps for you, as they appear on paper, then I will provide my own analysis and thoughts on it, drawing primarily from my own experience but also from what I have been told from many other people several of which are my friends.

Step 1: Initial application. You fill out many forms, supply school records, birth certificate, health records, 2 letters of reference, job history and fill out a security form.

Step 2: You get your medical and physical tests done. Medical consists of hearing and vision tests and a blood test to make sure you're clean. After that is the physical test where you do the CF express test which is just a step test to measure your VO2 max, and pushups/situps to test your basic strength.

Step 3: You are called in for a final interview. Provided all goes well, you are told to wait for a call with a job offer. When you get the call you are given a date of enrolment and when to appear at the recruiting center for your orders, swearing in ceremony and what to do from here (usually sent to St. Jean Quebec for Basic).

Sounds simple, no? It's anything but. Let's discuss the 3 main steps again but I will now throw in my own/others experiences to see just what this is like:

Step 1 was a pain in the ass. Getting all the forms were a real pain, I had to call back high schools and junk from across the country as we had moved all around being a military family. Everything had to be an original copy, so you had to wait for snailmail to come in. This includes your letters of references and they had to have known you for a good while. Your security clearance form is investigated and that alone takes about a month if you are a clean, law problem free born in Canada citizen. If you are from a risk country (lets say... Bosnia) even if you have been in Canada for the last 10 years and are fully assimilated expect that clearance to go from 1 month to 6 - yes 6. Once Lebonese-Canadian got his call after TWO YEARS - most of which was the ridiculously long and drawn out security investigation.

On top of this (this happened to me) the clerks and civilian staff (more on them later) are very clumsy and can lose your file. At one point, my file was completely and utterly lost and was in limbo between 38 Brigade, 26 Field Regt and CFRC/Winnipeg. My father - being a Chief Clerk and a Warrant Officer, actually had to use his power and connections to track it down and get it to CFRC WPG intact. They were too incompetent to do this on their own. Expect to wait about 2-3 months for all of this paperwork to clear and you be entered into the system.

Step 2: Ahh, the medical and physical. The former being the worst. The medical first needs to be signed and authorized by a military doctor. You think that would be it right? Nope.. After that, your medical actually gets sent to Borden to go under review of a panel of four military doctors. Apparently, one doctors advice/sign off is not enough. Now, every medical file of every recruit gets sent to Borden for this fucking team of doctors to analyze. Do you have any idea how bogged down they are? Here is another thing: When my medical went to the review board, THREE of them were on vacation. That leaves one doctor to handle about 200 medical files in a single day. Good luck with that, Doc. More unncessary red tape.

On top of that, your medical file being lost in the flood of other med files are not an uncommon thing. If it's lost: you may have to repeat it all over again.
Expect to wait roughly 3 months for your medical file to clear if you are perfectly healthy. I had two surgeries on my left knee. My sports doctor gave me an "a-ok" to go -yet I still needed this panel to give me the final green light. Doctors are doctors, this is just time consuming bullshit.

Step 3: The absolute worst. Once everything else is done, it can literally take them about 4 months to contact you. They will not call and give heads up, or tidbits of information - nothing. I went 3 months without hearing a word and I actually had to contact a recruiting officer on the
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
forums and he was kind enough to check his computer for me and tell me my current status. I had to go throught the backdor to find out I was accepted. To make it worst, recruiting officers are discouraged from giving out information to recruits as Borden or National Defense HQ (NDHQ) may change things at any time and god forbid any negative PR falls on them.

One of my friends was recently slated to go to Borden for firefighters training after his basic training in August. They called him MID JULY to tell him "oh by the way, you didn't qualify for fire fighter training" he cursed them out for telling him this late in the game and he walked out on them. Another recruit lost due to this BS.

The Canadian recruiting system is losing a LOT of potential recruits due to their blundering, mishaps, mismanagement and red tape crap. My friend is just one of many who turned his back on the system and left. And what kind of first impression is this? It looks like the military is some sort of third rate shoddily run business.

Average time of waiting from initial application to enrolment: One year - assuming things go OKAY.

Average time my friend in the US waited to join the US Rangers: 3 months

Average time another friend I know who joined the US Army: 2 months, 1 week

Do we see a problem here?

Anyhow, I have some solutions in mind for this problem.. I'll lay them out in plain sight:

First, re-arrange the entire staffing of recruiting centers. We do not need all the recruiting officers there - they have many there just for make work projects. Get rid of all but one R. officer - maybe keep two for larger centers. Eliminate all civilian workers from the centers - they got no fucking clue what they are talking about (case in point: when asked if I was going to Borden to do my QL3 course or Soldier Qualification course, she repeated over and over: "uhh it says you're going for basic occupation training" - which could have meant either or.. She had no fucking clue what an SQ course was). Eliminating the civvies from the centers will reduce valuable time lost for them pulling their heads out of their asses, and will military personnel who know the system to take care of all the files and explaining this and that to recruits.

To make matters worse, civvies fall under different control groups than military. We cannot directly order them to work, cannot directly ensure they work and cannot punish them the same way we could a military member. They are unionized and exploit that at every opportunity to slack off, do work halfassed and most notably: have no idea about the military machine and terms. With military personnel (probably clerks) taking over their jobs, we can do things with military efficiency. Ditch the civvies and let them bitch to Ottawa and NPF and junk so we can get our jobs done.

Every section of the CFRC could consist of 4-5 Privates to do the initial work. Two Corporals would be there working alongside them to help them and to gather the data they create. The Master Corporal would oversee all of them, and is responsible for making appointments and making sure things get done on time as well as contacting applicants. The Sergeant manages this entire team, correcting errors and handles the more pressing administrative problems. The recruiting officer is there for leadership! As an officer it is his job to motivate the team and strive to make them better and better. The RO would convey what he wants done to the Warrant Officer who acts as the bridge between the officer and the men and lets his Sergeant know what new policies the Officer wants made.

In short: 5 Privates, 2 Corporals, 1 Master Corporal, 1 Sergeant, 1 Warrant Officer. This would create one section - or even better, one Company. You could have two-three companies for an average recruiting center - more for the big ones.

Alpha, Bravo and Charlie companies all work independently of eachother but still communicate back and forth as all coy's must do. Each coy warrant officer would talk to the WO of the other coy's to ensure a standard of training and each WO answers/reports to the recruiting officer who oversees all coy's. See how this would work now? It's militarized and efficient. The way we have it now is just a jumble of civvies and military members unorganized and doing whatever.

Second, outsource half (or at least the average citizen) security checks to the RCMP. Letting our own agencies do it (CSIS in the cases of that Lebonese-Canadian guy) take way too long. I say half because we cannot in the same breath overflow the RCMP with forms either - they have their own security checks to do. However, a partnership with the RCMP in this case would drastically increase waiting time. I once got a criminal record and security check done with the RCMP when I was considering becoming a city cop. It was done in 2 weeks. Compare that to the month, month and a half normally for a clean guy. If you were to send half of the normal applicants plus a few who may need a bit more indepth checking into to the RCMP, it frees up our own agencies to take care of the guys who do need looking into (either from record or from heritage).

Third, eliminate the absolute stupidity of having a four doctor panel review all the med files of every reg force applicant in Borden! This is absolute absurdity: Are we Canada or the new Soviet Union? Cause this reeks of Centralized BS. Here is a fix: Either have your own civilian doctor and military doctor at the CFRC okay you, or accept just one. One doctor opinion should be as good as the other. I say, if the military doctor gives you the green light then that alone should be enough - what we don't trust our own doctors word now? This could reduce medical file time from 2-3 months to 2-3 hours, as it's just a matter of a trip down the hall and coming back with the paper and forms.

This was the way it used to be by the way, back in the later 70's and early 80's, until these civilian policy makers in NDHQ backed by spineless military members screwed it all up.

Lastly, make it mandatory for the recruiting Sergeant to give updates - even if there isn't much or anything to give - every month to every applicant. Do not let them feel they are forgotten! I felt that way and so have countless others and it's a reason why many leave. A simple update call every month gives reassurance to uneasy applicants and lets them know they still exist to the military and gives them a feeling that they are wanted.

Finally, go back to the way it was.. REGIONAL RECRUITING CENTERS. As it is now everyone reports to Borden and Ottawa. Let the centers in each province do their own recruting, get everything squared away, and send the end result to Ottawa/Borden! Enough of this Sovietesque centralization already! The military loves to reinvent the wheel so this should be no exception....go-back-to-the-way-it-used-to-be.

So, these are my thoughts on how to improve things. Rumour has it, the Borden board may be dissolved and all medical files sent to Ottawa to let teams work on them. This .. may reduce waiting time. However, now you have more hands on your med file and more chains it must go through - medical files may be lost at a higher rate and due to redtape it may even be SLOWER. Time will tell.

Hope someone reads this and has something to say or at the least learned a few things.


Bow Seat
VIP Professional
Well, that's not lucky, I wonder if I was a special case... Well, since I give back all the forms including the application, 3 month pass before I started my SQ, I was inform by recruiting officer of my unit that I was accepted. I can admit that the Canadian recruiting system is sometime slow but I found that's a great system, you cannot forget the army-public relationship, if all the guys in your army are criminals and stupids people, can the citizens have any trust in their army?? The main goal of this recruiting system is give an image to the army, that we are trustable, yeah we also need better equipment and better SUBS, lol, but, that's another details.
Last edited:


New Member
VIP Professional
Well that's the point of outsourcing the average applicant to the RCMP, they're more efficient with background and reliability checks anyhow.

Civilians still have a worth with the military, I just don't find they have any place in recruiting


Junior Member
VIP Professional
I think one aspect that needs to be revised is the physical test itself. Running slowly on a treadmill for a few minutes and lifting thirty or fourty pounds is not the same as what you will be doing in the service. You will be doing 13km runs (though only 3-4 km with full gear in the heat back to back up and down hills at first), lifting all sorts of heavy things like boxes of mortar or artillery shells, being run from dawn to dusk high-intensity all day, etc...

If you are going into a combat arm, the test should reflect that. As is, it is at less than a bare minimum. The physical weeds out those who are very out of shape, but it does not require the actual strength and endurance you will need in early basic training, never mind anything serious. But that's just my opinion. Perhaps there is a reason why the physical is so easy, like getting more recruits - though it must be expensive to "weed out" those unfit during the training itself!

So I say: make the physical require capabilities related to the service being entered, not some minimum standard suitable for CF lawyers or whatever.


Junior Member
VIP Professional
When I enrolled in 4RCR back in '91, CFRC London was a joke. You could stand around at the front desk forever waiting for someone to even acknowledge you were standing there as they walked past and stood around talking to each other.

The medical was even worse as a civilian doctor was performing the medical which amounted to him asking a few questions, checking off a form, getting a urine sample, and giving you a handshake. Something seriously wrong there.

I waited about four months without hearing a thing before finally calling not CFRC, but 4RCR directly, and the recruiting officer there told me to come to Wolseley Barracks itself.

There were a few other things too, which I won't go into, but when I applied for Reg Force a few years later things weren't much better (and there were a few things there also that I won't go into). The last time CFRC London called me after I made out my Reg Force application I actually yelled at the guy and hung up on him. They never called me back after that.

General Hillier has a thankless task trying to streamline the recruiting system in this country, but I very much fear that it is more or less permanently disabled, so to speak. That, and the fact that recruitment standards keep having to be lowered in order to get warm bodies means that the recruitment system in really just in a near-desperate condition. It hurts to see this.