December 11, 2007

Reservist job protection: kudos

I do think praise is more than in order for the current Ontario government of Premier Dalton McGuinty, which last Monday with all-party agreement signed and enacted in a single day the Fairness for Military Families Act. The act gives strong job protection to any military reservists from this province (with some exceptions like federal employees and police) who are selected for overseas military service or employed in a domestic emergency situation.

It's really the best of all possible worlds for part-time soldiers, who in Canada at least have never really been enamoured of the kind of forced-participation provisions that attach to Reserve or National Guard service in the States. (Not only can reserve call-ups be onerous, but the potential of them has been shown to limit the civilian job prospects of reserve members in that country... if the government can suck you back at any time for an unspecified period of service, you can risk losing in selection for jobs or promotions to an equally qualified applicant who is not a reservist. This should in theory at least be less of an issue so long as overseas service callups themselves remain entirely voluntary, as they are now.)

Basically, in a province where legislation of this sort applies, a citizen-soldier still has full choice whether to participate in an overseas mission, but if they volunteer and they are selected they can be confident that unpaid leave without job loss will be granted them. Ontario becomes the fifth Canadian province to give military reservists some level of legislative support like this.

There really is no downside... in the current Afghan-style deployment environment, at most only a couple hundred employees and their supervisors across the whole province would ever be affected at the same time by this. And in a domestic emergency, this legislation could lead to hundreds of additional military relief workers being available sooner and for longer periods than they could easily be previously.

Praise should also go to Gerry Martiniuk, Conservative MPP for Cambridge, who managed to get a similar private members' bill through first reading in the last assembly, and can now take some satisfaction that the new government took up his personal cause as one of its first acts after the Legislature resumed sitting.

Posted by BruceR at 12:32 PM