Human Resources and Social Development Canada

Human Resources and Social Development Canada

March 18, 2008 10:55 ET

CORRECTION FROM SOURCE/The Government of Canada Takes Action to Protect the Civilian Status of Reservists: Minister Blackburn Meets Reservists at HMCS Scotian

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwire - March 18, 2008) - In the release issued for HRSDC this morning at 9:30 am ET, a backgrounder was omitted. The complete and corrected release follows.


The Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, today met with reservists to discuss the Government of Canada's proposed legislation to protect the civilian jobs of reservists who work for employers in federally regulated sectors and to support student reservists.

"Our government made this issue a priority in the Speech from the Throne last October," said Minister Blackburn. "We must do everything that we can to ensure that the men and women of our Canadian Reserve Force never have to worry about being penalized for serving their country. They deserve it."

The Bill passed unanimously in the House of Commons on February 4 and is currently being considered by the Senate.

The proposed legislative amendments will be made to the Canada Labour Code, the Public Service Employment Act, the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act, the Canada Student Loans Act and other statutes and regulations as necessary. They will provide legal protection to some 2,000 reservists working in federally regulated industries and the federal public sector, and 12,000 student reservists attending a post-secondary institution full time.

Minister Blackburn addressed members of the HMCS Scotian as part of his national dialogue to ensure reservists are successfully reintegrated into the Canadian work force. Canadian Reserve Force personnel play a vital role in protecting Canada's interests at home and abroad. Reservists have been called upon frequently to contribute to international peace, stability and human security throughout the world.

Key elements of the proposed legislation include the following:

- reservists employed in federally regulated industries will be entitled to take leave without pay;

- changes to the federal government's employment legislation and policies will ensure that reservists who are federal public servants have the same right;

- for the purposes of the Canada Student Loans Program, reservists attending a post secondary institution full-time who have student loans will not accrue interest on their loans and will not be required to make payments while on active duty.

This legislation is a key initiative in the reinstatement strategy for the Canadian Reserve Force personnel announced on January 8, 2008. In addition, the federal government will continue to work with the provinces and territories to look at complementing the legislative initiatives with strategies to promote and facilitate a consistent approach to reservist reinstatement in civilian life.

Minister Blackburn congratulated the Government of Nova Scotia for being one of the first provinces to adopt legislation giving reservists a guaranteed right to return to a job with their employer. Similar measures are now in force in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick as well as in Ontario. Newfoundland and Labrador has also recently introduced legislation to protect reservists.

For more information, please visit Labour.gc.ca.

This news release is available in alternative formats upon request. For more information, please see backgrounder.


BACKGROUNDER

Job Protection for Canadian Reserve Force Personnel

Amendments to Part III of the Canada Labour Code (Labour Standards)

Proposed Amendments

New legislation proposes to amend Part III of the Canada Labour Code in order to provide job protection for reservists who work for employers in federally regulated industries and the federal public sector.

- The proposed amendments will allow reservists who have completed at least six months of continuous employment with their employer to take a leave of absence without pay to participate in annual training or volunteer for designated domestic or international operations (e.g., Operation ATHENA in Afghanistan, peacekeeping missions, disaster relief and search and rescue operations).

- Reservists will also be entitled to reinstatement in the position they held prior to the leave or in an equivalent position, with some exceptions in case of a workplace reorganization or where accommodating an employee can only be done by offering a different position.

- In addition, new provisions of the Canada Labour Code will prohibit employers from refusing to employ a person because he or she is a reservist. They will also prohibit employers from penalizing employees who are reservists, or who apply for or take leave. Reservists will also be able to defer taking vacations while they are on leave.

- The leave will be unpaid, and employers will not have to provide benefits or make pension contributions during an employee's leave. Reservists receive pay and benefits from the Canadian Reserve Force during their periods of service. However, seniority will continue to accrue, and the periods of service with the employer immediately before and after the leave will be considered continuous service.

- Employees will have to provide advance notice of the start and end dates of their leave to their employer.

- Regulation-making powers will allow the Government, if necessary, to clarify certain terms or prescribe circumstances in which an employer may be exempted from one or more obligations related to these new provisions.

- Amendments to the Public Service Employment Act and to Treasury Board policies would provide equivalent protection to reservists who are employed in the federal public sector.

Canada Labour Code

The Labour Program of Human Resources and Social Development Canada is responsible for developing, administering, and enforcing legislation and regulations related to the workplace, including the Canada Labour Code. The Code governs industrial relations (Part I), occupational health and safety (Part II) and labour standards (Part III).

The primary objective of Part III is to establish and protect the employee's right to fair and equitable conditions of employment. It contains provisions setting out minimum labour standards for employers and employees under federal jurisdiction, including leave and vacation.

Part III of the Canada Labour Code applies to employees and employers in works, undertakings or businesses under the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada.

Activities that fall within federal jurisdiction include:

- air and marine transportation;

- interprovincial and international rail, road and pipeline transportation;

- banking;

- broadcasting;

- telecommunications; and

- Crown corporations.

Contact Information

  • Office of Minister Blackburn
    Michael Winterburn
    819-953-5646
    or
    Human Resources and Social Development Canada
    Media Relations Office
    819-994-5559