Bill 2, Fairness for Military Families Act (Employment Standards and Health Insurance, 2007 was introduced on Dec. 1 and received Third Reading the same day.
The Bill represents an amendment to the Employment Standards Act (ESA), 2000, which currently offers no statutory job protection for Canadian Forces Reservists who volunteer for operational military missions. Bill 2 will provide such job protection to reservists who have six months of continuous employment with an employer covered by the ESA.

The legislation entitles reservists to a leave period to engage in the operation for which they have been deployed. For international operations, this includes any pre-deployment or post-deployment activities required by the Canadian Forces. Upon the reservist’s return, the employer is required to reinstate the reservist to the same position if it still exists, or to a comparable position if it does not.

The financial impacts associated with this legislative change are negligible since there is no requirement for the employer to continue benefits during the unpaid leave of absence. Employers’ financial responsibilities are limited to the cost of hiring and training an employee to fill the position temporarily vacated by the reservist. The average reservist’s mission, including training and re-introduction time, is 18 months, although they are entitled to a leave period that is necessary to fulfil the service requirement. Reservists must provide as much notice, in writing, as is reasonable in the circumstances, for both start and end dates.

Currently, there are about 11,675 reservists in Ontario, about 45 percent of whom are employed. Of these, about 50 percent are employed in the public sector. Across the province, there are about 100 public sector employees deployed annually.

To date, 25 municipalities have signed formal statements of support for the protection of reservists’ jobs. Manitoba, Saskatchewan, PEI and Nova Scotia have also recently introduced job protection legislation for reservists.