BG – November 25, 2014
Reservists are essential to the Canadian Armed Forces’ ability to successfully execute international and domestic operations.
The Primary Reserve consists of predominantly part-time professional Canadian Armed Forces members who contribute to the defence and security of Canada. The mission of the Primary Reserve is to provide the Canadian Armed Forces with professional personnel at directed levels of readiness who contribute to the Forces’ capability to achieve its roles and missions. Primary Reservists have made up a significant portion of our deployed forces over the past two decades. They have the unique challenge of balancing the demands of civilian careers with their military duties and rely on the goodwill and support of their civilian employers to allow them to take periods of leave for military training and deployment.
As greater numbers of Primary Reservists have deployed on operations over the past two decades, Canadian employers have been tremendously supportive. The Government of Canada also recognizes that there can be a significant strain on businesses when employers release reservist-employees for military duties, in particular when it may be necessary to hire and train replacements. The Compensation for Employers of Reservists Program is designed to assist employers in supporting their reservist employees as they make important contributions to Canada through their service on operations.
Canada’s reservists make an extraordinary commitment and many personal sacrifices to keep Canadians safe. The Compensation for Employers of Reservists Program will provide compensation in the form of a grant to eligible employers of reservists and eligible self-employed reservists who are selected to serve on a designated Canadian Armed Forces operation for a minimum of 30 days to a maximum of 18 months.
Through the Compensation for Employers of Reservists Program, the Government of Canada is fulfilling its commitment to provide financial support to employers of reservists, to help offset costs incurred when reservists deploy on operational duty.
This compensation program complements and enhances the existing suite of employer support programs currently in place to ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces maintains a sustainable, robust, and effective Reserve Force and that reservists are able to balance the demands of two concurrent careers – one with the military and the other with civilian employers.
The Canadian approach to employer support has evolved significantly as the role, integration and use of our Reserve Force has changed. During the past decade as greater numbers of Primary Reservists have been employed on operations; the Federal Government, the three Territorial Governments and all ten Provincial Governments have passed Job Protection Legislation for Reservists. However, most arrangements between reservists and their civilian employers to deploy on operations continue to be made on an individual and voluntary basis.
Canada has had a formal Reserve Force employer support program since 1978, and it has operated under the organization known as the Canadian Forces Liaison Council since 1993. The Council encourages civilian employers and educational institutions to grant reservists military leave on a voluntary basis, without penalty, to allow them to participate in their military activities, duties and training.
For more than 35 years, Canadian Forces Liaison Council members have worked with the Department of National Defence to develop and deliver a wide range of highly effective employer support programs. These programs inform, engage, educate, and recognize employers as well as provide information and support to reservists.
In 2012, the Government committed to “provide financial support for civilian employers of Canada’s reservists to offset the costs incurred when reservists sign up for full time duty”. The program was highlighted in the 2013 Speech from the Throne, indicating that the Government will, “assist employers of reservists who are required to deploy on missions vital to the security of all Canadians.”
As Canada increased the use of Reservists on operations in the mid-late 2000s during the mission in Afghanistan, there was an increased burden placed on employers, due to the prolonged absence, and increased demands of their reserve employees. Employers typically absorb operational costs, such as hiring contract or temporary workers, training new or existing employees or paying overtime while their Reservist employee is away.
The Compensation for Employers of Reservists Program was designed based upon proposals for employer compensation, a review of employer compensation models of Canada’s Allies, in addition to research and consultation with the private sector, and input from Canada Company, which developed a template for funding included in the 2012 Budget.
The program will provide approximately $403 per week for the duration of the absence of their reservist-employee on operations in the form of a grant to be paid to employers at the end of the Reservists deployment period. The program has been developed in a manner that balances fair compensation with fiscal prudence and Department of National Defence is partnering with Employment and Social Development Canada for delivery of the program.
To be eligible, the employer must have an employee who is a reservist serving on a designated Canadian Armed Forces operation (international or domestic) for a minimum period of 30 days up to a maximum of 18 months. This captures the vast majority of international deployments, as well as major planned domestic operations. Employers whose reservists served on designated operations will be eligible; this is normally restricted to members of the Primary Reserve and Canadian Rangers. To be eligible, the reservist must have worked with their employer for a minimum of 30 hours per week, for three consecutive months. Applicants from the private sector, provincial, municipal or territorial governments may apply and be considered eligible but federal government employers are not.
The introduction of the Compensation for Employers of Reservists Program ensures Canada remains at the leading edge in delivering world-class employer support programs. Employer support is a force enabler, and is key to the generation of skilled forces. By increasing the pool of trained and available reservists for operations, our employer support programs directly contribute to the operational readiness of the Canadian Armed Forces, while also fostering a culture of national support to the Canadian Armed Forces as a whole.
The Government of Canada is working to ensure that reservists receive the best care, widest possible support, and public recognition they deserve for the vital contributions they make to Canada.