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Female and Male Veterans in Canada

Females comprise 14% of the estimated 670,000 Veterans in Canada. Using data from the Life After Service Studies, Veterans who released from 1998 forward (approximately 11% of the total Veteran population) were examined by sex and more than 40 indicators of well-being.

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Service Characteristics

Female Veterans were more likely to:

  • have served in the Air Force;
  • have served for 10-19 years;
  • be medically released; and
  • be in administrative, medical, and overall serve in more transferable military occupations.

Male Veterans were more likely to serve:

  • in the Army; and
  • in combat arms, engineering and technical, and overall serve in non-transferable military occupations.

These differences may be a result of historical regulations regarding women's military service and/or individual characteristics, such as education and skills prior to military service.


Female Veterans were less likely to report work as their main activity in the past year. Female Regular Force Veterans were more likely to report their main activity as being disabled, attending school, caregiving or to be working part-time. This is similar to the general Canadian population, where women are less likely to engage in the labour-market and more likely to assume caregiving roles, report being disabled, and be working part-time.


Female Veterans were more likely to experience low income at least once post-release. Female Regular Force Veterans experience substantial reductions in income post-release. Female Reserve Force Veterans have significantly less income growth than their male counterparts. These differences are a result of lower labour-market engagement and smaller military pensions (related to fewer years of service and lower salaries while serving).


Female Veterans were more likely to:

  • have activity limitations;
  • need help due to an activity limitation;
  • and to see their family doctor in the past year.

Male Veterans were more likely to:

  • report heavy drinking.


Male and female Veterans are similar in many characteristics. However, female Veterans differed from males in some indicators of health, purpose, and finances and across each of the service components. Further research is needed to understand the differences observed.

Info Brief Reference (Female & Male Veterans in Canada):

MacLean MB, Clow B, Ralling A, Sweet J, Poirier A, Buss J and Pound T. Veterans in Canada Released Since 1998: A Sex-disaggregated Profile. Veterans Affairs Canada, Research Technical Report, September 24, 2018.

MacLean MB, Keough J, Poirier A, McKinnon K and Sweet J. (2018). Labour-Market Outcomes of Veterans. Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health, 2018 In press.

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