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For additional information relating to this article, please contact:

Thomas StorringDirector – Economics and Statistics
Tel: 902-424-2410Email:

August 28, 2019

Statistics Canada has released a summary of the report “Pre- and Post-Release Income of Regular Force Veterans: Life After Service Studies 2016”. This study examined Veteran’s outcomes pre- and post-release, including income sources and prevalence of low-income, employment outcomes (including industry and continuity of employment) and changes to family characteristics. Administrative data from the Department of National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) were linked to Statistics Canada’s T1 Family File, providing annual income data for up to 16 years after release from the military. In general, this study does not make comparisons to the general population.

This study is limited to Regular Force Veterans released between 1998 and 2014 with linked records from the pre-release year and thee years post-release (42,645 Veterans), excluding Primary Reserve Forces. The sample was predominantly male (87 per cent) and Veterans were likely to be 30 years of age or older (73 per cent). The majority had served 20 years or more (54 per cent), were junior and senior non-commissioned members at release (57 per cent) and not clients of VAC (63 per cent). Around 10 per cent of the Veterans in the sample resided in Nova Scotia in 2014.

Average total income (before-tax) in the year prior to release was $65,470 (constant 2014 dollars). Income increased in the year of release due to severance pay and subsequently declined in the year after release. Income then rose, reaching pre-release parity by three years post-release. After three years, income continued to increase. The average decline in income from the pre-release year to three years post-release for the Regular Force cohort studied was 3 per cent. The largest declines were among Veterans who were female (-21 per cent), medically released (-19 per cent) and those who served 2 to 9 years (-16 per cent).  

Using the Census Family Low-Income Measure (before tax), about 6 per cent of Veterans were in low income during the first year after release. Over the full period post-release, 15 per cent of Veterans were in low income for at least one year. The highest rates were among those released as recruits (38 per cent), involuntary releases (37 per cent) and those with less than 2 years of service (37 per cent). The lowest rates were among Veterans released at retirement age (1 per cent), those aged 50 or older at release and senior officers (both 2 per cent).

Most Veterans (93 per cent) had labour-market earnings post-release and this remained, on average, the largest source of earnings over the period studied. Among those who reported earnings, the highest average earnings were among those whose pre-release service was in medical occupations, and the lowest were among those who were in combat arms. The highest post-release earnings were earned by those working in mining, utilities and professional services, while the lowest was in accommodations and food services, retail trade and agriculture. These patterns are not unlike those in the overall population of individuals living in Canada with employment income in 2017.

The single largest employer of Veterans (among those not self-employed) in the year after release was public administration (34 per cent), followed by administrative services and manufacturing (both 10 per cent), retail trade (7 per cent), construction and transportation and warehousing (6 per cent). Most Veterans (58 per cent) changed employers during the first three years post-release.

Family structure was established based on the presence or absence of a spouse and/or children according to tax records. Pre- and post-release, about 70 per cent of total family income came from the Veteran. Spousal total income rose from $33,000 in the year prior to release to almost $37,000, on average, in the first three years post-release. Changing family structure was common post-release, as 8 per cent became separated (left their couple relationship), about 20 per cent entered a couple relationship, and about 20 per cent had their first child. The highest rates of separation were among those aged 30 to 34 or those who had 10 to 19 years of service at release (both 13 per cent).

More research could be conducted using this data, including exploring well-being areas beyond income, the effect of military experience, reasons for release, and the impact of service-related impairments on civilian earnings following release. This could also be used to compare outcomes of Veterans to outcomes in the general population.

Source: Statistics Canada. Daily ReleaseFull Report

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