Why Imposed Restriction is sometimes necessary

General’s apartment rental tab picked up by taxpayers for the last seven years.

This article in the National Post by David Pugliese caught my attention – and made me rather angry. I’ve written about Imposed Restriction (IR) before and the 2012 budget cuts to IR.

I do not know LGen Wynnyk. I do not know his family. However, after reading his official biography, I can understand what his family has endured.

So, to journalist David Pugliese, let me describe the family perspective for you and perhaps you’ll understand why IR is not a “perk.”

Military families are expected to pick up and move whenever the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) says so. We give up our homes, jobs, friends, and family. This is not easy for us. We are not employed by the military, yet we are expected to serve. Many people say, “Oh, it’s your choice you married a military member.” Well, I ask you, would you give up someone you love, the parent of your children, just because they get a new job in a new city? Really think about that. If you’re thinking yes, maybe your marriage/partnership isn’t as strong as you think.

Let me tell you, Mr. Pugliese, some of the other reasons a military member might choose IR. As I am sure you know, it is a challenge for many Canadians to find a family doctor. Imagine never having one. Imagine being on a waitlist so long that you move to another city before getting referred to a doctor. Now, imagine that you have a spouse or child with special medical needs. Now, imagine dealing with that while living far away from a support network of family and friends – and possibly in another language. Imposed Restriction allows the member to move, but the family remains in one place and has consistent medical care.

For a military member to move, spouses (and children) quit their jobs. Many do not meet the criteria to collect employment insurance. They either did not work the required number of weeks because they did not live at that location long enough or had to work part-time because the military member’s job was so demanding. And what about daycare, you ask? Finding quality, affordable daycare in a new city is like winning the lottery. Waitlists are long – so long, in fact, that you might be posted out before your children get placed.

This assumes that spouses have a job to resign from. Many spouses are unemployed. If you are posted to a part of the country where you don’t speak the language, it is almost impossible to get a job. Military Family Resource Centres (MFRCs) offer second language training, but learning a language well enough to be employed takes time (so much time that you may be posted out before you become employed). The MFRCs also have a spousal employment service, but if the Cheesi-Mart is the only place in town that’s hiring, listing your Ph.D. in bioengineering on your résumé will not help you get a job bagging groceries.

Is it so wrong that LGen Wynnyk recognized the sacrifices his family made over the years, and he chose IR so his family could have someplace to call home and his wife could pursue a career?

I guess in your eyes, Mr. Pugliese, military families should endure hardships (little access to healthcare, daycare, employment, and living as a single parent), and pay for it out of our own pockets when the government expects the CAF member to perform their duties. Have I got that right? Or do you just believe that military spouses/families should just be quiet and keep the home fires burning because we happen to love someone in uniform?

Mr. Pugliese, I suggest that if you continue to write about the military, you investigate what military family life is like before you start ranting to the taxpayers about subsidies that you don’t fully understand.

35 thoughts on “Why Imposed Restriction is sometimes necessary

  1. I’m neither in the military, nor from a military family. I read this, and your original IR post, because I’d never heard of IR and knew you would present a factual, insightful perspective.

  2. Thank you for this viewpoint. I would suggest, however, if you are going to write about one of my articles you at least accurately report on it. Contrary to your claims the article never referred to IR as a “perk.” Contrary to your claims the article never suggested or stated “not only should military families endure hardships (little access to healthcare, daycare, employment, and living as a single parent) but we should also pay for it out of our own pockets when the government expects the CAF member to perform their duties.”
    These are complete fabrications on your part.
    In addition, the article isn’t a “rant” as you claim. It is a factual article, citing only information provided officially by the Canadian Forces, about a Lt.-Gen. who has spent 7 years – the longest so far – on IR.
    I noticed as well you do not have the courage to put your name to your claims or personal insults against me.
    I have been told I should only write positive articles about the military praising the Canadian Forces and their families. I have been told I should not write about misspending in the DND and Canadian Forces. I have been told I shouldn’t have reported on the $367,000 spent on the “Party flight” for generals and VIPs that resulted in the laying of a sexual assault charge against one of the VIPs.
    Yet I am receiving the other viewpoint from taxpayers who say this reporting should continue. I will follow that path.
    David Pugliese

    1. Your headline draws readers in. No, you do not state that IR is a perk. You do not state that families should endure hardship at their own expense but your article definitely implies that IR is inappropriate. You did not provide any context into why the subsidy may be granted except that it is granted in certain cases. Certainly 7 years is a long time to be on IR. I can’t imagine what the Wynnyk sacrifices family has gone through to support the CAF during this time.
      As for my name? No, it is not on this blog (which is an oversight but everything else about me is here) You can find my name on all my social media feeds and my business website.

      As a tax payer myself (yes, all military members and their families pay income tax and sales taxes) I want to be able to read well-researched, unbiased reporting on the military. This particular article comes across as biased and poorly researched.

      1. The article does not imply that all IR is wrong or inappropriate. That is, once again, a fabrication on your part, aimed to advance your viewpoint.
        Second, I had nothing to do with the headlines. That is the editor’s call. So please before you make such false claims educate yourself.
        You have fabricated claims against me to attack my professionalism and my reputation.
        As for the context the article included what CAF provided. I asked Lt.-Gen. Wynnyk for an interview. He didn’t respond. Despite your claims to the contrary that this article paints all IR as inappropriate, this article is about one single IR claim that now appears (at least according to DND) the longest yet.

    2. While you are expected to write truthful, unbiased articles, this particular one came off in a derogatory manner. This is no disrespect to you or your other articles. This article is clearly well researched, however I must urge you to understand the point this blog post by Army Wife is trying to make.

      The derogatory manner in which you explain how much tax payers are paying may not have been intended, but it is how it can come across to some readers – as you have witness from this blog post.

      As a military daughter and a very new recruit myself, I have seen my family give up many aspects of our lives to accommodate the military. It is overwhelming and very stressful at times. If you have never been or are not a part of the military lifestyle it can be very difficult to comprehend everything that happens on our end. It is necessary to try and understand the complications and set backs that give military families the need for things like Imposed Restrictions, including the length of time it is needed.

      You states facts in your article about the tax payers, the amount they’re paying, and what it is for. While it may not be convenient for their pockets, it means a significant deal to the military member and military families.

      On a side note: I believe it is insensitive and demeaning to declare it a lack of courage that Army Wife does not post their name. This has no relevance to the matter and is not required when sharing personal views.

      Again, this comment is not meant to disrespect you or your article, it is simply to provide my personal opinion going off of your article and this blog post.

      1. Thanks for your comment. The reason I used the term “taxpayer” is because the taxpayer is paying. There is a view in the some portions of the federal government/DND that indicate such funds seem to just be there. I don’t see it as derogatory to point out where the money comes from. I use taxpayer in many of my articles (not just this one) because this is where the money comes from (Not DND, Not CAF, not the federal government).
        As I have said, the article at no point claims that IR is not needed (this is despite the false claims made by Army Wife.)
        I also don’t think “it is insensitive and demeaning to declare it a lack of courage that Army Wife does not post their name.” The lack of name does have relevance. If you can’t post your comments using your real name, then what does that say about the individual? If you truly believe these comments then I don’t know why you would post anonymously.
        I don’t write my articles anonymously. I still don’t know who this individual is – instead of coming out and identifying herself she states I should look around the internet to find out who she is. What’s the big secret? Why not have the courtesy to identify yourself and put your name to your comments?
        I think “Army Wife” raised some good points about IR and the value to military families.
        What I have challenged is her fabrications and defamatory claims she has made about me (as I have outlined in my other posts here).
        I get it that it’s open season these days on journalists. I’ve written about how the Canadian Forces leadership has tried to get me fired (particularly for my reporting on the VIP Party Flight that ended up in the sex assault charge). I’ve had the office of then Defence Minister Peter MacKay put me under police investigation for reporting on a news release. Twitter attacks and personal insults on-line are common. There’s a couple of death threats a year.
        But if you think I am going to stand by and let an anonymous individual called “Army Wife” just make up claims about my reporting, you’re sadly mistaken.
        I’m glad I’ve come here and stated my views using my real name. I think her defamatory false claims and fabrications about me are more of reflection of her than it is of my reporting.
        David Pugliese

    3. Congratulations! You’ve just bashed a military wife who, after supporting her family through absences imposed on her by her country, attempted to help you understand the challenges experienced by every military family across the country!! You speak of her being a coward for remaining anonymous, while you sit at your computer enjoying the freedom that her husband provides you!! You’re a piece of work, man! A real piece of work! Again, Congrats!! Oh, and my name is Byron Kendell.

      1. Thank you Bryon. I stood up for myself against the false claims that Army Wife has made about me. Obviously you disagree that I should have done that and instead allowed those false claims to stand.
        As for her husband “providing” me with my freedom, you obviously don’t understand the role of the Canadian Armed Forces in society. The CAF is an instrument of the state. If the state (i.e. government) decides to remove the basic freedoms of some or all Canadians, for whatever reasons and through legal measures (i.e. as it has in the past with the War Measures Act which involved the arrest of journalists and others…or the roundup of Japanese Canadian citizens during the Second World War) then the CAF and other instruments of the state (police, etc.) would follow the orders given. So while such jingoistic phrases like you are claiming might sound good, they aren’t accurate.

    4. While you dont use the word “perk”, your title of “rental tab picked up by taxpayers” does have an implication that something improper is happening. Using that phrasing has about as great an effect as if you said that the taxpayer was picking up someone’s bar tab. Any taxpayer with no knowledge of military life would go, “hey, what?! I’m picking up who’s tab?!” But we’re not talking about beer. We’re talking about cost of housing … and a cost that meets the amounts set out by the Treasury Board. Nothing improper … no rules broken … but a suggestive headline. Was that unintentional?

      1. Sounds to me like you are grasping at straws….certainly not liking criticism.

    5. David, you can make all the excuses you want, but the headline implied that the taxpayers were being ripped off. If you are going to write about the military, at least get your facts straight and stop trying to sensationalize.

  3. The Canadian Forces has many ways, means, platforms and practitioners to explain military life and service to Canadians at large. And, about a million Canadians are directly connected in some ways to Defence (serving, retired, etc.) so there is a huge community that can help. Blogs like this can provide an important ground truth to the challenges of being in CAF or being spouse of CAF member. In the case of this story though, Defence chose to ‘explain’ the IR decision by trotting out some rather silly lines about how great the Vice is for having sacrificed and how Canada and the Forces is better for him doing so. That is surely all well and true given his impeccable service record. But why don’t they simply explain just as you have done, Army Wife, some of the trials, tribulations and challenges? Or have made a decent business case? Or made a decent ‘family’ case? Or why wouldn’t the Vice have used the opportunity to personally explain and share at least the gist of his case however uncomfortable in the moment, to help show IR is a perfectly valid and reasonable instrument that is being responsibly applied?! The very small percentage of members on long term IR as a percentage of the Forces was real insight to me – it’s astonishingly low. This suggests quality administration of the tool. The reporter has simply provided a factual story without a subjective comment on its value: he never wrote that it was wrong or a perk.

  4. As a 25 year veteran and retiree from the CAF I found nothing wrong with Mr. Pugliese’s story. He was merely pointing out a fact in my opinion. BTW my father and Grandfather were career military so I (family) have been displaced and know of what you speak.

    1. Alright, ladies… the men have arrived and explained that we’re all wrong because one fact was correct (he’s been on IR for 7 years) even though other GLARINGLY OBVIOUS facts that provide additional context were omitted (the cost of constant moves and the significant loss of revenue to the taxpayers’ coffers when high-income spouses are unemployed both far exceed IR costs). Let’s all go back to the kitchen, shall we? We’ve forgotten our place.

  5. Mr. Pugliese also doesn’t recognize how much IR costs… Food, phone, cable, internet, hydro and sometimes water for two households get paid our if the member’s pocket

  6. The overarching question I have is why this particular member on IR came to merit Mr. Pugliese’s attention in the first place? A well-rounded article would have provided more context and explanation, such as the actual cost of moving a family, and the loss of taxpayer money when the spouse is unable to procure meaningful employment (I’m sure the General’s wife contributes to the tax base in an amount commensurate to what it has cost her husband to remain on IR). Perhaps all of this was in the article that Mr. Pugliese submitted, and then it was edited to include none of it? Surely more than just a CAF statement and CAF policy would need to be consulted before submitting an article for consideration, especially given that as taxpayers, the General and his wife have likely paid more than enough over the last seven years to cover the amount his IR has cost.

  7. Why is it that a soldier’s tax-funded expenses can be publicized like this, but staff in the PMO office dont get their expenses publicized because it’s “personal information”?! The media should maybe focus their attention on a real news story!

  8. Mr. Pugliese,
    Your piece on the unusual circumstances, most notably the length, of Lt.-Gen Wynnick’s IR is appreciated; I think it is important to continually ask questions about how our government is allocating taxpayer’s money. So, thank you for that.

    However, as part of a military family that has just completed a 10-month IR separation, I am quite disappointed at how unbalanced your piece is. Not once did you provide information about the circumstances surrounding more typical IR separations, including the average length of IRs, the reasons for which they are requested and granted, the rank of the members for whom IR is granted, etc. Beyond referencing another unusual case dating back almost 20 years ago to 1998, prior to changes in the IR rules which you did not note in your article, you did not offer any current, real-life examples of IR members and their families. If I may offer some constructive criticism, that is a significant weakness in your article; contrasting Lt.-Gen Wynnick’s situation with more typical, and recent, scenarios may have enhanced the point you were attempting to make, which is clearly that a 7-year IR is excessive, and perhaps alternatives should be considered.

    Granted, you do provide statistics that indicate that there are over 600 IR situations currently, with only 12 since 2013 given approval to extend beyond the 5-year mark. But you don’t delve into that any further. Again, I feel you missed a real opportunity to educate the public about the reasons and the realities behind IRs. If you had been able to flesh out some of those 600+ situations, you would have given your readers a much more well-rounded, informative piece.

    Finally, most significantly absent from your piece is the cost, both financial and social, if IR is not granted to Lt.-Gen. Wynnick and other members. Is IR cheaper than multiple, short-term moves? What about about the unemployment costs of spouses and other family members? What about the mental health toll that repeated moves take on members and their families? And, most urgently, what about the serious recruitment and retention issues that the CAF is facing? Is IR a reasonable and cost-effective attempt to retain valuable military members, into which the government, and by extension, taxpayers, have already poured thousands upon thousands of dollars training?

    Yes, I realize that to attempt to answer any of these questions you would have to do a fair amount of digging. It would have greatly added to the value of your piece though. I realize that you are likely limited by word counts and deadlines. However, your piece feels incomplete, rushed and one-sided; therefore, I am sure the ire which you have raised in the military community is not a complete surprise.

    You criticize Army Wife for hiding behind her writing pseudonym. I am not hiding. My name is Lisa Taylor, and I would love to chat with you further and answer any questions, sincere and honest questions, about IR. I could certainly give you a spouse’s perspective, which you might find useful.

    Thank you again for shining a light on a critical issue, and I hope you take the feedback which you are getting and write a follow-up piece.
    Lisa Taylor

    1. Dear Lisa, thank you for your comments and your courtesy of not hiding behind anonyminity.
      The information that was presented in the article took between two and three weeks to gather from the Canadian Armed Forces. To be clear, it is the Canadian Armed Forces that was/is in control here. It was the CAF’s decision to not provide an individual to explain IR to me. The CAF could have provided a family, for instance, to explain the value of IR but decided not to. It was the CAF’s decision to answer by email only and with the limited information provided.
      What is the average length of IRs? I don’t know. CAF didn’t provide the answer to that question.
      You ask many good questions about IR.
      I think the key question, however, as retired Col. Brett Boudreau (a former senior public affairs officer) points out in this forum, is why didn’t the CAF provide more information?
      To be clear, interviews with CAF personnel or their families are very rarely granted these days by the senior CAF leadership and when they are, it is in a very controlled setting. Most information passed to journalists is done via email.
      In fact, the CAF originally declined to even pass my questions on to Lt.-Gen. Wynnyk. As a result I tracked down the general to ensure he had an opportunity to provide any comment he or his wife so desired. He did not respond, so that was his decision.
      I could have submitted an Access to Information request to get more information on IR but that process can take one to two years for a response, maybe more.
      While this doesn’t fit into the narrative that Army Wife has claimed here about me, it is indeed the reality of how the CAF deals with inquiries from journalists.
      Dave Pugliese

  9. Mr Pugliese, I have been serving for over 25 years now. I was lucky in my career I hade to move just a few time. 3 time to be exact. Sailor I need water close by…Your last comment said and I quote ” The CAF could have provided a family, for instance, to explain the value of IR but decided not to.” well most of us do not want to talk to journalist. We do not trust them. DND will not force a family to talk to you or any journalist. We are not paid to answer questions you may have about our personal and family life.

    I know I will not do interview with journalist nor my wife and children.

    I apologise for spelling mistake as my first language is French.

    Stephane Drolet

    1. Hello Stephane, no need to apologize for your spelling and thank you for your comment. You point out you would not answer questions from a journalist about military family life. Yet some of the folks on this forum are stating journalists should talk to military families about IR. Kind of ironic….

      1. You have stated several times that Army Wife’s blog post contains false and defamatory claims. Could you please ellaborate on your allegation? I have read and reread her post and see nothing that meets either of those labels. She expressed opinions, and asked questions of you to ascertain your viewpoint on the topic. And even her use of the word “perk” does not state that you used it in your article. What are you referring to, exactly?

      2. If you read my responses above, they are specifically laid out.

      3. I read that too. But you’ve actually misquoted her to some extent. She does not make any claims about what your article says. Rather she expresses her views and seeks to clarify your’s. She does not say that your article called IR a “perk” (though some may perceive that your article implied as much), but instead sets out to explain why it is not a “perk”. And in your quote of her other statement that you allege to be about your article, you failed to quote where she says, “I guess in your eyes Mr. Pugliese …”. She is expressing her perception of what she thinks your personal opinion might be on the topic. And then she follows her statement with “Have I got that right?” Rather than making false statements about what you said in your article, she is expressing her perception of how you view the military. If she doesnt “have it right”, then perhaps you could clarify your views rather than throwing around the word “defamatory” in an apparent attempt to intimidate her.

      4. David.

        I did not say no one would not talk to journalist, I said most. I agree, you should have the point of view of a military family, but again many of us lost all faith in journalist.

        How hard it is to move a family, well Sir back in 2004 I got an Out Can posting (I was posted in the US) MY kids had to leave all friends school behind, My wife had to quit her job. We hade to leave friends and family behind. When I came back to Canada I had put my family trout that again. I swear that day I will never do that again. There for I do understand the reason why member will rather go on IR instead of moving the family again. My family got lucky, our family doctor took my wife and kids again, but my family was lucky. I know too many military family that did not get the chance we had.

        I am not informed of what type of reporting you do, so I will not judge you on one report only.

        Thanks for reading

        Stephane Drolet

  10. Well said.

    It was never easy for our spouses, hence we always said, it takes someone special to become a military spouse. I salute you Mam, well written rebute to an un informed journalist.

    There was never any perks to be in the military, there is only the priviledge to serve.
    Which we cannot carry on without a strong family unit.

    Per Ardua Ad Astra

    1. Sue, Was it a “rant” as Army Wife claimed? No it was a factual story based entirely on CAF provided information. It wasn’t an opinion piece. Was it “my headline.?” No. I didn’t write the headline. So why make such claims?
      But I don’t think I’ll be changing many minds here…I mean look at Byron’s comment about Army Wife’s husband providing my freedom. Look at Mr. Demers comment…still suggesting the article claimed it was “perk.”
      I’ve stood up for myself against these false claims. People don’t seem to like that.

      1. Well, she clearly perceived it to be a rant … as much as you perceive her to be cowardly for not blogging under her real name. People are entitled to have opinions which may or may not be correct.
        As for the headline aspect, I was not aware that journalists do not select their own headlines. It must be annoying to have an editor potentially throw an unintended slant on your article!

  11. Mr Pugliese, I find it interesting that you (and many journalists for that matter) seem to abdicate responsibility for headlines. Why is that you have no influence? Why do editors seem to routinely write inflammatory headlines that have little connection to the actual meat of the articles they introduce? You may not write the headlines, but your name is on the byline, so you have to assume some responsibility for what it says. Perhaps you and all journalists should protest to your editors that their headlines are causing you grief.

    One thing I have learned over the years is that perception is reality. You may not have intended to write a derogatory article about Imposed Restrictions, but an awful lot of people certainly seem to think you did. It really doesn’t matter what you intended if people perceive something different. Whether you intended to do so or not, you have touched a nerve.

    IR is not a perk by any stretch of the imagination. I have deployed to some of the nastiest places on the planet and spent a lot of time at sea, but my time spent on IR (which was significantly less than all of that) was one of the lowest points of my career – to the point where I swore I would never do it again. It’s one thing to be in some horrible place on the wrong side of the world, but significantly worse to be sitting in a lonely apartment in your own country, separated from your family. More than one family has not survived the experience. Are you aware that the monetary compensation for IR has not changed in over 10 years? It’s $1600 (+$100 for parking) today, just as it was in 2007, when I last did it. Rental rates have gone up since then. To make things worse, ten years ago, people also received an allowance for food. That has since been cancelled, so all people get is a rent subsidy, which may not cover all the costs. To put it bluntly, IR sucks and any family that is willing to make that sacrifice deserves every penny they get.

    It seems to be open season on military families lately. Recently there was a woman ranting on YouTube about the unfair advantage that military spouses have in getting government jobs, “simply because they sleep with a military member.” Luckily, the backlash from military spouses caused her to take down her video, but we really shouldn’t have to be fighting the public like this. Rather than writing articles about what military members and their families receive why not write about what they don’t receive? I wrote you a few years ago about how my wife was denied Employment Insurance benefits (a program to which she contributed for many years), as a result of our overseas posting. Yes, she was denied a benefit she paid for by the same government that created the situation they used as an excuse to deny that benefit. You never responded to my email, despite my invitation to do so.

  12. Mr. Pugliese,

    I am a fan most times, and a sharp critic of your stuff sometimes. On balance, you’re very good and do an excellent service to Canada with the pieces you write. However… This article, in a word, is tripe. I believe you sensed scandal, and you’re right, DND did a poor job of defending the benefit. Which brings me to my point; as so many have said here on this blog, IR is not a “perq” (I prefer the Oxford way – the short form of perquisite). It is a “benefit”, provided to certain families to offset a hardship; the hardship being the requirement to separate families for military service. I did IR twice. It was freakin’ horrible and I only did IR for 16 months total. Like most people, I love my family and I hated missing my boy’s milestones and achievements. Also, the amount of money I spent maintaining a fair quality lifestyle at two residences was immense (out of pocket for cable, internet, food etc *2). As well, I spent thousands on travel to see my family when I could. Do you and your readers really expect me and my comrades to pay for the shitty, 2-bit apartment too?

    You struck a nerve, to be sure. And, if I may be so bold, I think you missed the mark. The fair question is this; is the benefit allocated evenly across the CAF population spectrum? Go hunting. There might be a story there.

    My name is Jim Irvine. 35 years service. Son and grandson of veterans. Moved more than most. Served with pride.

    Keep doing the good work you do. As I said, on balance you do an admirable service to Canada.

  13. I wonder where he was brought up and what background he comes from!?

    My own wife would be able to recount our life with me away in the British Forces. I’m a reserve soldier now and that has its own challenges but the reason I mention this is that (in my own experience) the civilian world has no clue about what we actually do in the service of our country….. no idea at all so it doesn’t surprise me this journalist is ignorant and lazy and didn’t do his homework. Lastly, I wonder what his relationship status is….. is he married, does he have kids? The sacrifices service personnel and their families make are difficult for civilians to grasp…… ask us …….. but that’s not news worthy I guess!

  14. What would be the cost of *not* going on IR for 7 years?

    Figure at least 2-3 cost moves in 7 years. Each move runs the taxpayer maybe $40k in real-estate commission, legal fees, moving expenses. By avoiding a cost move over 7 years, the member likely saved the crown / taxpayer $80-$120,000 against the $140k of the IR.

    If you want to get really detailed; by having the spouse remain gainfully employed at the original location, vice unemployed or subject to min-wage entry jobs at the destination, the crown collects more income tax revenue from having the husband and wife both employed.

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