Days after victims of military sexual assault raised concerns about lenient sentences, CTV News has learned of a new directive from Canada’s top soldier to remove from their jobs anyone who has committed sexual misconduct.

Gen. Johnathan Vance told CTV’s Mercedes Stephenson that he will now discharge anyone found to have sexually harassed or harmed another member of the military, even if he or she has struck a plea deal in a military court.

Women and men who spoke to CTV News earlier this week said their sexual assault cases had not resulted in harsh enough punishments. In one case, a man who sexually assaulted a woman of lower rank was punished by losing a rank and a $2,500 fine.

After Statistics Canada reported Monday that the prevalence of sexual assault is far higher in the military than the general population, Vance said, “as far as I’m concerned, I’m happy if they leave our ranks permanently.”

As part of the ongoing sexual misconduct crackdown known as “Operation Honour,” 29 members of the military have already been forced out due to sexual misconduct, while three remain but are receiving counselling and probation, and three remain due to lack of evidence.

Earlier this week, two more soldiers faced courts martial on sexual assault charges but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disgraceful conduct and had their sexual assault charges stayed.

CTV News has learned that both perpetrators will be now be served with “intent to release,” meaning they will be kicked out of the military.

Victims say the news of the new directive has left them with a sense of relief and that other victims are now more likely to come forward.

Defence sources say it addresses some of the frustration inside the military that military courts were not handing down harsh enough punishments to deter bad behaviour.