Employer and Legal Support for the Canadian Forces

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.

Shifting gears, I read Omar Ha-Redeye’s recent post discussing the ABA’s U.S. Memorial Day announcement regarding its pro bono support to veterans. It gave me pause to reflect.

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.


  1. On a tangentially related matter, Statistics Canada released a report today: Canadian Forces Cancer and Mortality Study: Causes of Death. The study looked at a 35 year cohort of those who enrolled between 1972 and 2006 (i.e. before the start of Canada’s deployment into Kandahar). The overall result seems to be that

    all-cause and disease-related mortality was lower among individuals with a history of military service compared with the general Canadian population.

  2. This goes back more than a year now Gabriel, but I did do a short post to Slaw back in Jan. 2010 about our firm’s experience with an associate Reservist who switched to active duty for a tour in Afghanistan.

    Thankfully, Mr. Morische has now returned to our office safe and sound and is dutifully back at work on a homicide case but it was (and remains to some extent) a real challenge for a small firm like ours to hold a position open for so long (his leave was extended several times) and we are all now working on the difficult task of growing his practice back to where it was before his departure.