DAOD 5023-0, Universality of Service


Date of Issue: 2006-05-19

Effective Date: 2006-05-08

Application: This is an order that applies to officers and non-commissioned members of the Canadian Forces ("CF members").

Approval Authority: This DAOD is issued under the authority of the Chief of Military Personnel (CMP).

Enquiries: Director Military Careers Policy and Grievances (DMCPG)

Policy Direction


The mission of the DND and the CF is to defend Canada, its interests and its values, while contributing to international peace and security.

To execute this mission the CF must be given broad authority and latitude in utilizing CF members and their skills. The statutory basis for this authority is section 33 of the National Defence Act. The fundamental importance of this authority to the functioning and effectiveness of the CF is recognized in subsection 15(9) of the Canadian Human Rights Act which provides that the duty to accommodate under subsection 15(2) of that Act is subject to the principle of universality of service. Under this principle, CF members must at all times and under any circumstances perform any functions that they may be required to perform.

Effective performance of the broad range of defence and security tasks assigned to the CF requires that CF members be capable of performing a similarly broad range of general military, common defence and security duties, in addition to the more particular duties of their military occupation or occupational specification. This open-ended nature of military service is one of the features that distinguish it from the civilian notion of employment governed by a contract, which obliges employees to perform only those duties specified in their job description or contract.

Principle of Universality of Service

The principle of universality of service or "soldier first" principle holds that CF members are liable to perform general military duties and common defence and security duties, not just the duties of their military occupation or occupational specification. This may include, but is not limited to, the requirement to be physically fit, employable and deployable for general operational duties.

Policy Statement

The CF is committed to the application of the principle of universality of service in the CF.


CMP has the authority to develop and approve policy concerning universality of service.


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