Ontario Creating Job-Protected Leave for Injured Military Reservists

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.