Ontario creating job-protected leave for injured military reservists
Ontario has announced plans to pass legislation to create job-protected leave for injured military reservists.
If passed, it would guarantee reservists could return to the civilian jobs after deployment — even if they need additional time off to recover from physical or mental injuries.
Of the Canadian 40,000 soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, nearly one in seven developed a mental injury attributed to trauma from their mission, the province noted.
“We often think of the physical injuries soldiers suffer, but mental trauma experienced is no less severe,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “The brave men and women in our Canadian Armed Forces put their lives on hold to protect our freedom. They deserve to know that their job will not only be protected when they’re away but also should they need time to recover from physical or mental injuries.”
In addition, the proposed legislation would make Ontario among the first in Canada to allow reservists to respond and deploy to domestic emergencies – including search and rescue operations, recovery from national disasters such as flood relief, and military aid following ice storms – even if they just started a new job.
Similarly, reservists would be eligible for job-protected leave when deployed abroad or upgrading their military skills after just two months – as opposed to the current three.
“Our Citizen-Soldiers, the men and women who proudly serve Canadians in our nation’s uniform will truly benefit from these incredible new protections,” said General Rick Hillier (retired), Former Chief of the Defence Staff of Canada. “The changes in the law will give our reservists the comfort and peace of mind they need to ensure that their jobs will be there for them when they are done serving our country, whether at home or abroad.”
These proposed changes build on job protections introduced last year and would give reservists greater peace of mind when putting their jobs on hold after a deployment, the province said.
Joe Maloney, the founder and executive-director of Helmets to Hardhats Canada, welcomed the news.
“Reserve Force members are a vital component of The Canadian Armed Forces but are also crucial in their civilian careers, including careers within the unionized construction industry,” said Maloney. “Allowing additional job-protected leave will support retention in the military and the workforce while ensuring Canadian reservists can return to work safely and sustainably.”
- The Canadian Forces has about 27,000 Reserve Force members. Of these members, about 11,000 live in Ontario.
- The Canadian Armed Forces is still experiencing shortages of reservists and troops, with one in 10 of the military’s 100,000 positions unfilled. This legislation, if passed, will help to ease that shortage.
- Employees on reservist leave are entitled to be reinstated to the same position if it exists, or a comparable position if it does not upon their return. Their seniority and length of service credits would continue to accumulate during the leave, as they do now.
- If passed, this change would amend Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000, to expand reservist leave to include where the employee is in physical or mental treatment, recovery or rehabilitation related to participation in a military operation or specified activity.
- In the case of an operation outside Canada, the leave includes pre-deployment and post-deployment activities that are required by the Canadian Forces in connection with that operation.
Source: Government of Ontario
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