Province introduces legislation that would also make it easier for reservists to respond to domestic emergencies
Ontario is introducing legislation to guarantee military reservists can return to their civilian jobs after deployment, even if they need time off to recover from physical or mental injuries.
The proposed legislation would make Ontario one of the first provinces in Canada to allow reservists to respond and deploy to domestic emergencies, like search and rescue or natural disasters, even if they just started a new job.
“We often think of the physical injuries soldiers suffer, but mental trauma experienced is no less severe,” says 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.”
The Canadian Armed Forces has about 27,000 Reserve Force members and about 11,000 of them live in Ontario. The CAF is also experiencing a shortage of reservists and troops, with about ten percent of positions currently unfilled.
General Rick Hillier (retired), Former Chief of the Defence Staff of Canada says the legislation will make it easier to serve.
“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.”
If passed, the 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.