I was recently asked to join the Canadian Forces Liaison Council (CFLC) as the Québec Chair for a three-year term. I intend to devote myself fully to this role, with the pride, humility and sense of great responsibility that goes with it. I have been given an exceptional opportunity to support the dialogue between the Canadian Armed Forces and employers in Quebec and Canada in a unique way, and to thus be of service to my country.

Canadian Armed Forces Reservists are members of the National Defence. These women and men carry out their military duty part-time, and most work civilian jobs or are students. Unlike regular-force members, reservists participate on a completely volunteer basis, so they choose the trainings and missions that they complete, without any obligation.

The experience and the professional and military training that reservists receive are seen in their values, abilities and skills that are highly regarded and sought after in the civilian workforce. There are already plenty of employers who are thrilled with the positive outcome of hiring reservist employees, both for their technical know-how and their invaluable skill sets: discipline, loyalty, initiative, leadership and a heightened sense of duty that can all be transferred to the civilian workplace.

As the Quebec Chair, I will work to further strengthen ties between the military community and the civilian world. I hope to create a ripple effect that will in turn inform and mobilize other business leaders in order to gain their support and increase their awareness of the impact the Reserve Force could have on their organizations. Likewise, by encouraging employer support and collaboration, I will continue efforts to maintain and improve flexibility for reservists so that they may honour their commitments and military duties.

VIA Rail is an environment that is open and conducive to such conditions. I have the immense privilege to grow within a company with a long and proud tradition of supporting members of the military and veteran communities by providing them with quality employment and facilitating their military activities. For example, VIA Rail has adopted a leave policy that lets employees who are in the Reserves continue their military training or participate in temporary missions without having to use vacation days or take a cut in their total compensation. I hope to convince other businesses to adopt similar policies.

We consider it our duty to facilitate the transition and integration of military personnel to a civilian career. In 2017, VIA Rail was honoured as the best employer in Quebec by the CFLC in recognition of the company’s outstanding support. Our organization currently includes over 70 reservist and veteran employees, who are a great asset for us. As part of our 2018 hiring plans, we expect 5% of our new employees to be reservists or veterans.

It is up to every organization to decide how it is going to put reservist employees’ military training and experience to good use. The Canadian Forces Liaison Council ensures that the needs of our military and employers who support reservist employees are fully met. It is with humility that I take up the torch from my seasoned predecessor, Jean Fournier, and continue his work to the best of my ability.

For more details on VIA Rail initiatives, visit the military community page at: career.viarail.ca/en/why-choose-us/veterans-program

Top image: VIA Rail Canada was honoured on March 18, 2017 as the best employer in Quebec by the CFLC. Left to Right: Yves Desjardins-Siciliano,Lieutenant Sebastien Langlais, Combat engineer officer, 34 Combat Engineer Regiment, and Senior project manager, Rolling stock, VIA Rail; Major Daniel Doran, 34 Combat Engineer Regiment; and Adjudant Jean-Philippe Léonard, 34 Combat Engineer Regiment

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