On June 3, 2021, Parliament passed an Act to establish a new federal holiday called the “National Day for Truth and Reconciliation”. This new federal holiday will be observed on September 30, starting in 2021. The purpose of this holiday is to honour First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Survivors and their families and communities, and to ensure that public commemoration of the legacy of residential schools remains a vital part of the commitment to reconciliation.
With the introduction of this federal statutory holiday, there are now ten (10) paid statutory holidays in a calendar year under the Canada Labour Code. The federal government announced that September 30 will be a statutory holiday for employees in federally-regulated public and private sectors across Canada.
At the provincial level, some provinces have publicly announced their recognition of National Truth and Reconciliation Day, however none have announced that provincially-regulated, private-sector employers will be required to observe September 30 as a statutory holiday.
Employees in federally-regulated public and private sectors in all provinces and territories are entitled to have the day off from work, or receive holiday pay in lieu of time off if they are required to work. Examples of these federally-regulated workplaces include:
- post offices (e.g., Canada Post)
- railways (e.g., ViaRail)
- air transportation
As noted above, no provinces have established September 30 as a statutory holiday. As such, no provincially-regulated, private-sector employers in Canada are required to close and/or provide holiday pay to employees for September 30. Nevertheless, the following provinces and territories have announced that they will join the federal government in recognizing September 30 as a statutory holiday in a variety of manners, as set out below:
British Columbia has advised provincial public-sector employers to honour the new statutory holiday. Many public services will remain open but operate at reduced hours, however most schools, post-secondary institutions, some health sector workplaces and Crown corporations will be closed.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador announced that September 30 will be observed as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. All government entities and offices in the province will be closed on this day.
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island announced that the new federal statutory holiday will be observed on September 30. On this day, provincial government offices and schools in the Public Schools Branch and la Commission scolaire de langue française will be closed.
The provincial government announced that they will recognize September 30 as a day of observance for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. On this day, schools will be closed and Manitoba’s public employees will receive the day off from work to observe the statutory holiday. Non-essential government services and offices will also be closed for the day.
Nova Scotia announced that they will annually recognize September 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation starting in 2021. On this day, provincial government offices, public schools, and regulated childcare centres will be closed.
The Northwest Territories announced that September 30 will be established as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Public employees in the Northwest Territories will receive the day off to observe this statutory holiday.
The Government of Yukon announced that September 30 will be marked as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. On this day, Yukon government employees will receive the day off. Schools will also be closed across the territory.
The following provinces will not be observing September 30 as a statutory holiday this year for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation:
- New Brunswick
Takeaways for Employers
Federally-regulated and applicable public sector employers should be aware of their obligation to provide employees with a day off of work to observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, similarly to other statutory holidays.
Employers should be mindful of whether their individual municipality has announced that September 30 will be observed as a statutory holiday in that specific jurisdiction, and of any subsequent closures of businesses or establishments. Furthermore, employers may wish to consider how they can respectfully observe and reflect on the important purpose behind this new federal statutory holiday, which may take a variety of forms, including a paid day off work, workplace events or otherwise.
Moving forward after 2021, employers should also keep an eye out for any future announcements that provinces may make with respect to observing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday on September 30.
This blog is provided as an information service and summary of workplace legal issues.
This information is not intended as legal advice.