10/28/2015 04:00 EDT | Updated 10/28/2016 01:12 EDT

CF watchdog takes aim at DND's reluctance to monitor health of reserve soldiers

OTTAWA — The country's military ombudsman has found that National Defence is reluctant to conduct regular health assessments on reservists because over one-third of them have no family doctor — and if they're sick it would be the department's responsibility to care for them.

Gary Walbourne's latest report shows only four of the military's 18 field ambulance units, which are responsible for part-time soldiers, are conducting exams and that the vast majority of them are not properly equipped to carry out the job.

He says the detachments are understaffed and often don't have access to the military's central medical data base.

The report comes at the same time as questions are being raised about the health of Canadian Rangers who patrol the Far North.

Since reservists are part-time members, they are generally expected to seek care under their provincial health systems, even though the military requires them to be medically fit to deploy at all times.

Walbourne has outlined several areas of concern, including the liability for so-called "orphan patients" with no family doctor.

The Canadian Press