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Order reservists to train


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Most of us in the reserves are under the impression that we can't be ordered to train. I'm bored and started looking to see where that policy comes from.

Section 33.2 of the National Defence Act (NDA) states that members of the Reserve force may be ordered to train for "such periods as are prescribed in regulations made by the Governor in Council" -- http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/laws/stat/rsc-1985-c-n-5/latest/rsc-1985-c-n-5.html

This policy is further explained in Section 9.04 (2), Volume 1 of the QR&Os:

Subject to any limitations prescribed by the Chief of the Defence Staff, a member of the Primary Reserve may be ordered to train each year on Class “B” Reserve Service prescribed under subparagraph (1)(b) of article 9.07 (Class “B” Reserve Service) for a period not exceeding 15 days and on Class “A” Reserve Service (see article 9.06 – Class “A” Reserve Service), for a period not exceeding 60 days.

So my question is, have there been any "limitations prescribed by the [CDS]"? Is this the only official policy on the matter? If there have been, can anyone link/copy+paste the CANFORGEN or other policy?

If not, why is almost every reservist (especially the people planning training..) under the impression that they cannot be ordered to attend training?


Army.ca Veteran
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I don't recollect seeing any CANFORGEN etc on limitations on training. I would surmise that such limitations might revolve around such things as budget, or summer break for example; where the affected units ceased training for some period of time.

I think the second part of your question relates to the requirement to maintain effective status. Remember if you don't parade, you get made NES and can be released. The NES warning letter is the CF's order for you to parade. Secondly, things like EXPRES or equivalent evaluations are mandated training. Try telling the system that you can't be ordered to take the EXPRES and see what happens.

There are limitations that restrict one to giving orders to Reservists whilst signed in on the pay sheet, and there's case law to uphold that. However, as given in the examples, Reservists can be ordered to train in specific circumstances. If they fail to do so the outcome is likely to be release rather than summary trial or court martial.


Army.ca Relic
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One needs to approach such areas with a degree of caution.

First, remember that the Reserve Force is a component of the Canadian Forces.  It is sub-divided into four sub-components:  The Primary Reserve, The COATS, the Canadian Rangers, and the Supplementary Reserve.  The "order to train" stipulation of the NDA, as expanded in the QR&O, a regulation issued under the authority of the Governor-in-Council, applies only to members of the Primary Reserve.

All is good so far.  However:

There is no disciplinary tool within the military to enforce such an order.  The Code of Service Discipline does not apply to a member of the Reserve force unless one of the conditions in s60(1)(c) are met; that is, they must be:

(c) an officer or non-commissioned member of the reserve force when the officer or non-commissioned member is

(i) undergoing drill or training, whether in uniform or not,

(ii) in uniform,

(iii) on duty,

(iv) [Repealed, 1998, c. 35, s. 19]

(v) called out under Part VI in aid of the civil power,

(vi) called out on service,

(vii) placed on active service,

(viii) in or on any vessel, vehicle or aircraft of the Canadian Forces or in or on any defence establishment or work for defence,

(ix) serving with any unit or other element of the regular force or the special force, or

(x) present, whether in uniform or not, at any drill or training of a unit or other element of the Canadian Forces;

The only tool available would be under part VII of the act, a civil proceeding:

Liability to civil trial

286. (1) Subject to subsection (2), every person, including an officer or non-commissioned member, is liable to be tried in a civil court in respect of any offence prescribed in this Part.

Special provision

(2) No charge against an officer or non-commissioned member in respect of any offence prescribed in this Part shall, if the complainant is any other officer or non-commissioned member, be tried by a civil court unless the consent thereto in writing of the commanding officer of the accused officer or non-commissioned member has first been obtained.

R.S., 1985, c. N-5, s. 286;R.S., 1985, c. 31 (1st Supp.), s. 60.
Limitation period

287. No prosecution in a civil court shall be commenced against a person in respect of an offence prescribed in this Part, other than any of the offences referred to in section 298, except within six months after the date of commission of the offence charged.

R.S., c. N-4, s. 244.

Failure to attend parade

294. (1) Every officer or non-commissioned member of the reserve force who without lawful excuse neglects or refuses to attend any parade or training at the place and hour appointed therefor is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction for each offence, if an officer, to a fine not exceeding fifty dollars and, if a non-commissioned member, to a fine not exceeding twenty-five dollars.

Each absence an offence

(2) Absence from any parade or training referred to in subsection (1) is, in respect of each day on which the absence occurs, a separate offence.

R.S., 1985, c. N-5, s. 294;R.S., 1985, c. 31 (1st Supp.), s. 60.
Neglecting personal equipment

295. Every officer or non-commissioned member of the reserve force who fails to keep in proper order any personal equipment or who appears on parade or on any other occasion with the personal equipment of that officer or non-commissioned member out of proper order, unserviceable or deficient in any respect is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding forty dollars for each offence.

R.S., 1985, c. N-5, s. 295;R.S., 1985, c. 31 (1st Supp.), s. 60.

One would be hard-pressed to find a court willing to occupy a crown prosecutor for such offences.  So while de jure such orders can be given, with legal sanctions attached, de facto it isn't done.

In the event that pers were called out for duty other than training  - that is, a  formal call-out under 33(1)(b) of the NDA, then it's a different situation.  Unfortunately, to my knowledge, the Governor in Council has issued no regulations for such call-outs; to my knowledge, responses to events such as floods and storms have been voluntary, not obligatory.


Full Member
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Interesting. Seems that s60(1)(c) could be changed to allow CoC action against people not attending training.. Whether one should do that or not, is another question entirely. Thanks.