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Navy Public Affairs sent this out today:
Today, Command Chief CPO1 Tom Lizotte, and I conducted a Town Hall with sailors currently serving as Stewards to announce that the Steward occupation is being eliminated. This was a very tough decision that was not taken lightly and, while the Steward occupation will phase out over the next three years, we value every one of our Stewards and will work with each of them individually to find the best way for them to continue their careers in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN).
I need to thank all those individuals who participated in the Town Hall today. Their concerns and questions were all heard. It takes a lot of courage to speak out and share your thoughts in an open forum like today, and for that I thank you all. Stewards have been managing uncertainty for many years especially with the Occupational Analysis ongoing since 2017. While I know that hearing this decision today was very tough, I hope that it provided a firm footing for us to move forward from and I believe that we are in better shape to plan the transition. Though the ultimate outcome won’t change, every steward will have a very strong say in how their transition plans are implemented.
As I said today, we don’t have all of the answers now, but, rather than trying to work behind the scenes to figure out every last detail, we wanted to be open and transparent that we have made this decision and work with all of you in the Steward community to determine how to best move forward.
One main concern heard was “what’s next for me?” The only immediate change is that we are going to stop recruiting new stewards as of this month. Those who are already serving will continue to be employed in all the jobs that they’ve been doing and we will take at least three years to complete the transition so that everyone will have time to determine the best option for themselves. Everyone is unique, and this will not be a one-size fits all situation. Each individual will be managed separately, according to their own circumstances and desires.
“Why?” We carefully considered options to continue the Steward occupation, and many of our Stewards were a part of those discussions. I know that the proposal developed was appealing to many. As we did the analysis, there was nothing that could not be performed by other occupations. Given the success of the all-ranks cafeteria on the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships, and a careful study of the expected roles and functions required aboard the future Canadian Surface Combatants, we realized that even the revamped occupation was simply not going to be viable. Now that this decision has been announced, we will work to identify how the many important roles and functions performed by stewards today will be done in the future and what changes in the establishment and tasks of other occupations will be required as a result.
Today was about being accountable for the difficult decisions that sometimes have to be made: as the Commander of the RCN I felt it was essential to take the time to announce and explain the decision directly to the Stewards and answer their questions to the best of my ability. I feel that we accomplished that today. We don’t yet have all the answers, but as was made clear, we will do everything in our power to ensure this transition is as painless as possible for everyone. I also want to be clear that my goal is to retain every steward within the RCN and, for that reason, we will work to provide the most attractive possible options to each one of them.
Our people are our strength. Stewards have a long and honourable service record for which we are all proud, and this decision is not reflective of the valuable and dedicated service they have provided to the RCN. To all Stewards, please accept my sincere appreciation for your loyal service to the RCN, the CAF and our country. I hope that you will continue to serve, and know that you will be supported whatever your decision may be. On behalf of the entire RCN leadership team, thank you for all that you do for the Royal Canadian Navy, and your fellow Canadians.
Vice-Admiral Angus Topshee
Commander Royal Canadian Navy