Human Resources and Social Development Canada

Human Resources and Social Development Canada

March 18, 2008 09:30 ET

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) - 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.

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Contact Information

  • Office of Minister Blackburn
    Michael Winterburn
    Human Resources and Social Development Canada
    Media Relations Office