Ontario Creating Job-Protected Leave for Injured Military Reservists
Changes would guarantee reservists can return to their civilian careers after recovery and treatment from mental and physical injuries
March 17, 2023
Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development
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TORONTO – The Ontario government is working for workers by introducing new legislation that, if passed, would guarantee military reservists can return to their 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.
“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. The changes also reassure our Citizen-Soldiers that when they are called upon to serve in a time of need, or, if that service and sacrifice results in physical or mental injuries, that they won’t need to worry about being abandoned in their darkest hours. Premier Ford and Minister McNaughton should be proud of introducing changes that ensures the great province of Ontario has the backs of those who serve.”
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. They are part of a larger package that expands on the ground-breaking actions in the Working for Workers Acts, 2021 and 2022, which are already helping millions of people by introducing additional supports that embrace the future of work.
- 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.
“Military Leave is key to helping unlock the potential of the many Canadians who serve in the Reserve Force by giving them peace of mind while participating in military operations or activities. Expanding eligibility to include time to recover from injuries sustained by military service further enables Reservists to deliver full-time capabilities through part-time service in their communities, and around the world.”
– Major-General Rob Roy MacKenzie
Chief of Reserves, OMM, CD
“The Province of Ontario’s leadership in expanding job protection leave for the thousands of reservists living and working in Ontario is a much welcomed initiative that will allow our proud and dedicated reservists to serve their country at home and abroad knowing they will be able to return to their civilian places of employment and be entitled to post-deployment care and leave. Bravo Zulu Minister McNaughton and the Province of Ontario.”
– Charles S. “Duff” Sullivan
CD, Major General (ret) RCAF Former NATO Air Component Commander Afghanistan, Director of Operations NORAD
“Helmets to Hardhats welcomes the expansion of job-protected leave for military reservists. 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. 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.”
– Joe Maloney
Founder and Executive Director, Helmets to Hardhats Canada
“As a Military Connected Campus, Fanshawe welcomes this initiative in providing expanded job-protected leave for reservists. It will complement our academic promise to provide access to barrier-free learning and institutional support for students who may need to delay their continued learning to undergo military training, deployment or commitments. We recognize the Canadian Armed Forces’ critical role in deployment across Canada and around the world.”
– Peter Devlin
President, Fanshawe College
“As Canada’s Foundation for the military community, True Patriot Love welcomes this significant change in support for our Reservists. The Government of Ontario is taking action to offer enhanced job protection and security to those who serve in uniform, ensuring that they can continue to support the Canadian Armed Forces while also maintaining their civilian careers. True Patriot Love applauds the Ontario Government’s proposal and looks forward to continuing to work closely together to promote Reservist and Veteran hiring amongst Ontario employers.”
– Nick Booth
CEO, True Patriot Love Foundation
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