Enhanced job protection is coming for military reservists in Ontario.
Labour Minister Monte McNaughton announced Friday the provincial government is planning to create a new job-protected leave for injured military reservists. The proposed new legislation would guarantee those who need additional time off due to physical or mental injury following a deployment can return to their civilian job once they have recovered.
“The brave men and women in our Canadian Armed Forces put their lives on hold to protect our freedom," said McNaughton. "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.”
According to officials, nearly one in seven of the 40,000 soldiers sent to Afghanistan suffered a mental injury related to the deployment.
"We often think of the physical injuries soldiers suffer, but mental trauma experienced is no less severe,” McNaughton said.
If passed, these proposed changes would amend Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000, to expand reservist leave to cover employees in need of physical or mental treatment, recovery or rehabilitation related to participation in a military operation.
The province is also changing it so reservists can respond 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. Ontario would be the first province in Canada to make such an allowance. Reservists deployed aboard or upgrading military skills would also be offered job-protection after just two months at their civilian job, down from the previous three month rule.
"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 Retired General and Former Federal Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hillier (retired), who appeared alongside McNaughton for Friday's announcement. “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 Canadian Armed Forces has approximately 27,000 reservists in Canada, 11,000 of whom live in Ontario.