My last post (on the minimum wage vs. a “living wage”) garnered a good amount of discussion. A comment was made to me that it was surprising given that this is a “legal blog” and my post was mostly about a social issue. I see it from a different perspective. I think that our laws are meant to be a reflection of society – after all, they are passed by a duly elected parliament that is supposed to express the “will of the people”. As we all know, this is not always the case. Our parliament does not always express the will of the people. Indeed, many governments are elected by a minority of voters but get a majority of the seats.
As a serving reservist in the Canadian Forces and one who has had the honour of serving my country overseas, I am always slightly jealous of the recognition that Americans lavish on their veterans and service members. While the Canadian public perception of the military has improved a great deal since we became involved in Afghanistan, the Canadian Forces are still often “out of sight and out of mind” – except when it comes to budget and cost issues.
As a labour and employment lawyer in Québec, I often assist American companies and in re‑working the employment policies for application in Québec. Without fail, all of their policies include provisions that protect military reservists from economic prejudice when they are deployed or are required to attend military training. US law also protects reservists from being terminated if they are deployed for an extended period of time. On top of that, the vast majority of major employers provide some kind of salary “top up” so that service members aren’t financially prejudiced when they go on deployment because the military pays less then their employer.
Canada has recently taken steps to move in that direction. Over the last several years, all of the provinces (and the Federal government) have implemented legislation to protect the jobs of reservists who are deployed and/or who must take part in annual military training. A full description of all provincial laws can be found on the site of the Canadian Forces Liaison Council. Passing this legislation in every province has been an important step and a huge help for reservists.
Nonetheless, I still don’t know of any Canadian employers who “top up” salary when employees are deployed with the Canadian Forces.
Have any of you heard of any? Does anyone have any comments on what, if anything, Canadian employers or legislators should do to help reservists? Again, this is where social issues and the law intersect.