Barrack Green Armouries’ doors were open to the public on Saturday, along with more than 100 other armouries across the country, as the Canadian Armed Forces tries to address its shrinking number of part-time members.
Reservist numbers have been dwindling in New Brunswick for about the last five years. In 2012, the province had 1,539 army reserve members. Now, that number has dropped to 1,321 soldiers.
Enrolment process was too slow
Provincially, it may not seem like a massive loss, but nationally, the numbers are much more alarming for the Department of National Defense. Auditor General Michael Ferguson reported last year that only about 14,000 of the approximately 21,000 part-time soldiers in the country were considered active and ready for service.
At the Saint John armoury, information about the government’s new strategy for an expedited recruitment schedule was available for anyone interested in joining.
“The enrolment process took too long,” said Second Lt. Jannah Mead, recalling the paperwork required for others when she got involved two years ago.
“Some people that I did basic with that had been a year since they had signed up before they got in uniform and were able to do the job.”
Mead, who teaches the fourth grade when not in uniform, said the open house was to let people know how much easier it now is. DND wants to get new recruits enrolled after three visits, as opposed to the former six-to-12 month process.
A streamlined process
“We’re trying to make that process a lot more streamlined, a lot quicker, a lot easier,” said Mead. “So they’re not in a holding pattern deciding ‘this is taking too long, I gotta do something else’.”
Bombardier Andrew Vail joined five years ago to have a part-time job while in university, and he too is hoping Saturday’s open house encourages new recruits.
“The numbers are definitely thinning out,” he said. “It’s time that we get some more people in.”
Vail said he was hoping new recruits could help lighten his workload while on exercises.
New recruits signing up
“It’s always good to have full gun detachments and a full roster because it really does make your job easier,” said Vail.
Among those taking-in the open house, were several people already interested in signing up.
Jordan Renner is waiting until he’s finished with Army Cadets before joining. He said the ability to get training on the job is one of the most appealing parts of signing up.
“I’ll apply online at the end of the year, once I’m finished Cadets and hopefully I can move forward through the reserves,” he said.