Public holidays in Canada

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Public holidays in Canada, known as "statutory holidays", "stat holidays", or simply "stats", are legislated at the national, provincial and territorial levels. Many of these holidays are observed nationwide, but each province and territory has its own holidays as well.

While major Christian holidays such as Christmas and Good Friday are officially observed,[1] leave is permitted for other religious holidays as well. For example, some school children and employees take days off for Jewish holidays, Muslim holidays, or Eastern Orthodox observances according to the Julian calendar. While not normally taken off work, Valentine's Day, Saint Patrick's Day, Halloween, Mother's Day, and Father's Day are traditionally observed by Canadians. The Celebrate Canada series is a collection of important cultural days beginning with National Aboriginal Day on June 21, and followed by St-Jean Baptiste Day on June 24, Canadian Multiculturalism Day on June 27, and concluding with Canada Day on July 1.

Statutory holidays[edit]

A statutory holiday (also known as "stats" or "general" or "public" holiday) in Canada is legislated either through the federal, or a provincial or territorial government.[2] Most workers, public and private, are entitled to take the day off with regular pay. However, some employers may require employees to work on such a holiday, but the employee must either receive a day off in lieu of the holiday or must be paid at a premium rate – usually 1½ (known as "time and a half") or twice (known as "double time") the regular pay for their time worked that day, in addition to the holiday pay[citation needed] (except for high technology workers in British Columbia).[3] In most provinces, when a statutory holiday falls on a normal day off (generally a weekend), the following work day is considered a statutory holiday. Statistics Canada shows an average of 11 paid statutory holidays per year in regard to all firms and corporations operating within the province[citation needed].

Nationwide statutory holidays in Canada[edit]

Date English name French Name Remarks
January 1 New Year's Day Jour de l'An Celebrates the first day of every year in the Gregorian calendar.
Friday before Easter Day Good Friday Vendredi saint Commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus. In Quebec, non-federally regulated employers must give either Good Friday or Easter Monday as a statutory holiday, though some give both days.
July 1 (July 2 when July 1 is a Sunday) Canada Day Fête du Canada Celebrates Canada's 1867 Confederation and establishment of dominion status.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, observed as Memorial Day.

First Monday in September Labour Day Fête du travail Celebrates economic and social achievements of workers.
December 25 Christmas Day Noël Celebrates the Nativity of Jesus.

Statutory holidays for federal employees[edit]

In addition to the nationwide holidays listed above, the following holidays are mandated by federal legislation for federally regulated employees. All banks commemorate these holidays, and they are statutory in some provinces and territories.

Date English Name French Name Remarks
In lieu of Good Friday (Stat Holiday), Monday after Easter Day Easter Monday Lundi de Pâques Celebrates the resurrection of Jesus.

Not a statutory holiday in any province or territory; however, in Quebec employers must give either Good Friday or Easter Monday as a statutory holiday, though most give both days.

Banks remain open (legally they cannot close for more than three consecutive days except in emergencies[citation needed]), but employees often receive a "floating" paid day off to be taken on or near the holiday.

This is not one of the nine "General Holidays" as defined by the Canada Labour Code – Part III. As such, there is no legal requirement for private sector employers in federally regulated industries to provide Easter Monday as a paid holiday to employees. However, many federal government offices will be closed on this day.

Monday on or before May 24 Victoria Day Fête de la Reine ou Journée nationale des Patriotes Celebrates the birthday of the reigning Canadian monarch; however, the date does not change with the change of monarch, being instead fixed on the birthday of Queen Victoria, the sovereign at the time of Canadian Confederation and establishment of dominion status in 1867. Some French-Canadians celebrate instead Adam Dollard des Ormeaux a French-Canadian hero from the New France times.

Statutory holiday in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Ontario, Quebec (coincides with National Patriots' Day), Saskatchewan, and Yukon. A holiday in New Brunswick under the Days of Rest Act.

Not a statutory holiday in the eastern maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island or in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Second Monday in October Thanksgiving Action de grâce A day to give thanks for the things one has at the close of the harvest season.

Statutory holiday in most jurisdictions of Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and Yukon.[4]

An optional holiday in the Atlantic provinces of Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.[4] In New Brunswick, included under the Days of Rest Act.

November 11 Remembrance Day Jour du Souvenir Commemorates Canada's war dead. Anniversary of the armistice ending World War I in 1918.

Statutory holiday in Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, and Yukon.

In Manitoba, an "Official day of Observance", not a statutory holiday.

In Ontario and Nova Scotia, not a statutory holiday in that employers have the option of giving Remembrance Day or an alternate day off.

Not a statutory holiday in Quebec.

December 26 Boxing Day Lendemain de Noël A holiday with mixed and uncertain origins and definitions.[5]

Provincially, a statutory holiday in Ontario. A holiday in New Brunswick under the Days of Rest Act.

Many employers across the country observe Boxing Day as a paid day off.

Other common statutory holidays[edit]

Date English Name French Name Remarks
Third Monday in February (BC 2nd Monday in February) Family Day Fête de la famille Statutory holiday in Alberta, Ontario, and Saskatchewan.

British Columbia celebrated its first Family Day in 2013 (on the 2nd Monday in February).[6]

Celebrated as Louis Riel Day (statutory holiday) in Manitoba.

Celebrated as "Islander Day" in Prince Edward Island.

Not observed elsewhere.

First Monday in August August Civic Holiday Premier lundi d'août Statutory holiday in British Columbia (British Columbia Day), New Brunswick (New Brunswick Day), Northwest Territories (Civic Holiday), Nunavut (Civic Holiday), and Saskatchewan (Saskatchewan Day).

Civic holiday (may be a paid vacation day depending on employer) in Alberta (Heritage Day), Manitoba (Civic Holiday), Ontario (Colonel By Day + John Galt Day + Simcoe Day + others), Nova Scotia (Natal Day), Prince Edward Island (Federal Civic Holiday).

Not observed in Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, or Yukon.

Provincial and territorial holidays[edit]

Provinces and territories generally adopt the same holidays as the federal government with some variations:

Date English Name French Name AB BC MB NB NL NT NS NU ON PE QC SK YT
January 1 New Year's Day Jour de l'An National
Second Monday in February Family Day Fête de la famille - V - - - - - - - - - - -
Third Monday in February Louis Riel Day Journée Louis Riel - - V - - - - - - - - - -
Third Monday in February Islander Day Fête des Insulaires - - - - - - - - - V - - -
Third Monday in February Family Day Fête de la famille V - - - - - - - V - - V -
March 17 Saint Patrick's Day Jour de la Saint-Patrick - - - - V - - - - - - - -
Friday before Easter Day Good Friday Vendredi saint National
Monday after Easter Day Easter Monday Lundi de Pâques V - - - - - - - - V - - -
April 23 Saint George's Day Jour de St. George - - - - V - - - - - - - -
Monday on or before May 24 National Patriots' Day Journée nationale des patriotes - - - - - - - - - - V - -
Monday on or before May 24 Victoria Day Fête de la Reine ou Journée nationale des Patriotes V V V V - V V V V V - V V
June 21 National Aboriginal Day Journée nationale des Autochthones - - - - - V - - - - - - -
June 24 Discovery Day / National Holiday Journée découverte / Fête nationale / Saint-Jean-Baptiste - - - - V - - - - - V - V
July 1 Canada Day Fête du Canada National
July 12 Orangemen's Day  ? - - - - V - - - - - - - -
First Monday in August Civic Holiday Premier lundi d'août - - V - - V - V - - - - -
First Monday in August Heritage Day  ? V - - - - - - - - - - - V
First Monday in August Natal Day  ? - - - - - - V - - - - - -
Third Friday in August Gold Cup Parade Day  ? - - - - - - - - - V - - -
First Monday in September Labour Day Fête du travail National
Second Monday in October Thanksgiving Action de grâce V V V V - V V V V V V V V
November 11 Armistice Day Jour de l'Armistice - - - - V - - - - - - - -
November 11 Remembrance Day Jour du Souvenir V V - V - V V V - V V V V
December 25 Christmas Day Noël National
December 26 Boxing Day Lendemain de Noël V - - V - - V - V V - - -

Alberta[edit]

  • 5 nationwide statutory holidays, 4 provincial holidays as well as 3 "optional holidays".[7]
Provincial statutory
Optional
  • Easter Monday – optional Holiday, variable date
  • Heritage Day – optional holiday, first Monday of August
  • Boxing Day – optional Holiday, December 26.

British Columbia[edit]

  • 5 nationwide and 5 provincial statutory holidays.[8]
Provincial statutory
  • Family Day – second Monday of February
  • Victoria Day – last Monday before or on May 24
  • British Columbia Day – first Monday of August
  • Thanksgiving – second Monday of October
  • Remembrance Day – November 11

Manitoba[edit]

  • 5 nationwide and 3 provincial statutory holidays, as well as 2 optional holidays.[9] Remembrance Day and Boxing Day are not statutory holidays.
Provincial statutory
  • Louis Riel Day – third Monday in February
  • Victoria Day – last Monday before May 25
  • Thanksgiving – second Monday in October
Optional
  • Civic Holiday – first Monday in August; not a statutory holiday.
  • Remembrance Day – an "Official day of Observance", not a statutory holiday.[10]

New Brunswick[edit]

  • 5 nationwide and 5 provincial statutory holidays.[11] Although prescribed as public holidays, Victoria Day, Thanksgiving, and Boxing Day are not paid public holidays.[12]
Provincial statutory
  • New Brunswick Day – first Monday in August
  • Remembrance Day – November 11
Optional
  • Victoria Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Boxing Day

Newfoundland and Labrador[edit]

  • 5 nationwide and 1 provincial statutory holiday.[13] Thanksgiving is not a statutory holiday. Canada Day is not a statutory holiday as July 1 is Memorial Day.
Provincial statutory
  • Memorial Day (July 1)
  • Armistice Day (November 11)
Optional

These have not been observed as statutory holidays since 1992. They are, however, observed by the provincial government. Unlike most other provinces, there is no province-wide holiday on the first Monday in August. It may be seen as redundant due to the Royal St. John's Regatta, which is observed as a civic holiday in St. John's on the first Wednesday in August (or, in case of poor weather, the next suitable day thereafter). Harbour Grace and Labrador City have a similar holiday for their regatta in late July. All other municipalities are entitled to designate one day a year as a civic holiday, however many do not take advantage of this.

Northwest Territories[edit]

  • 5 nationwide holidays and 5 territorial statutory holidays.
Territorial statutory
  • Victoria Day
  • National Aboriginal Day – June 21
  • Civic Holiday – First Monday in August
  • Remembrance Day
  • Thanksgiving

Nova Scotia[edit]

  • 5 nationwide holidays plus Remembrance Day. Victoria Day, Thanksgiving, and Boxing Day are not statutory holidays but most businesses and retail are closed Boxing Day. Most statutory holidays can be substituted for a mutually agreeable alternative paid day off in lieu or employers can require employees to work at a premium rate of pay. Several types of employment, including workplaces covered by a collective agreement, are exempt from provincial rules governing statutory holidays.[14][15]
Provincial statutory
  • Remembrance Day – This holiday is governed separately from all other public holidays in Nova Scotia as of 1998. It is illegal for any person to offer any goods or real property for sale on this date, or to accept or offer employment in exchange for gain or reward. There are special exemptions for workers who are employed in certain categories but an alternative day off with pay must be offered in lieu.[16]
Optional
  • Natal Day – first Monday in August; not a statutory holiday but a common day off in Halifax Regional Municipality.

Nunavut[edit]

  • 5 nationwide and 4 territorial statutory holidays. Boxing Day is not a statutory holiday.
Territorial statutory
  • Victoria Day
  • Civic Holiday – first Monday in August.
  • Thanksgiving
  • Remembrance Day
Optional
  • Nunavut Day – July 9, originated as a paid holiday for Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated and regional Inuit associations. It became a ½ day holiday for Government employees in 1999 and a full day in 2001. Most employers give the day off with the notable exceptions being the Federal Government and the North West Company. Not a statutory holiday.

Ontario[edit]

  • 5 nationwide and 4 provincial statutory holidays plus one common municipal holiday.
Provincial statutory
  • Family Day – third Monday in February.
  • Victoria Day – on the Monday before May 25
  • Thanksgiving
  • Boxing Day
Optional
  • August Civic Public Holiday – first Monday in August. This is not a statutory holiday,[17] and, as such, only federal employers are required to give the day off.[citation needed]
  • Remembrance Day – This is also not a Paid Public (Stat) Holiday[17] and as such provincially regulated employers are not required to treat this as a holiday.

Prince Edward Island[edit]

  • 5 nationwide and 7 provincial statutory holidays (Gold Cup Parade Day may be substituted for Civic Holiday for some workers).
Provincial statutory
  • Islander Day – third Monday in February (originally second).
  • Easter Monday
  • Victoria Day[disputed ]
  • Civic Holiday – first Monday in August (Federal government only)
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Remembrance Day
  • Boxing Day
Optional
  • Gold Cup Parade Day celebrated mainly in the capital city of Charlottetown on the third Friday in August marking the end of the Provincial Exhibition and the Gold Cup and Saucer race at the Charlottetown Driving Park, which is a bank and contract holiday for some Civil Servants (others get the first Monday of August as a Civic Holiday).

Quebec[edit]

  • Five nationwide and three provincial statutory holidays. Remembrance Day and Boxing Day are not statutory holidays, and there is no Civic Holiday in August. Many of the specific details of employment law are quite different in Quebec.
  • Employers must give either Good Friday or Easter Monday as a statutory holiday, though some give both days.
Provincial statutory
Optional
  • Construction Holiday (French: Vacances de la construction) takes place during the last two weeks of July — while it applies officially only to the construction industry, many other Quebecers arrange to take their vacations during these two weeks.

Saskatchewan[edit]

  • 5 nationwide and 5 provincial statutory holidays.
Provincial statutory
  • Family Day – third Monday in February
  • Victoria Day
  • Saskatchewan Day – first Monday in August. Celebration of Saskatchewan history and culture similar to Canada Day.
  • Thanksgiving
  • Remembrance Day

Yukon[edit]

  • 5 nationwide and 4 territorial statutory holidays. In addition, Easter Monday, Boxing Day, and Heritage Day are statutory for public service workers. Many employers give their employees days off that may not be statutory holidays in the particular province, particularly Boxing Day.[19]
Territorial statutory
  • Victoria Day
  • Discovery Day – third Monday in August
  • Thanksgiving
  • Remembrance Day
Optional
  • Heritage Day – Friday before the last Sunday in February[citation needed] – optional for non-public service workers

Municipal holidays[edit]

Some municipalities also have local statutory holidays. For instance, the morning of the Stampede Parade is often given as a half-day holiday in the city of Calgary. In Ontario, the August Civic Holiday is not defined provincially, but by each municipality.

Civic holidays[edit]

In Canada, there are two definitions of the term "civic holiday":

Legal definition[edit]

By law, a civic holiday is defined as any holiday which is legally recognized and for which employers are obliged to offer holiday pay.

The August Civic Holiday[edit]

In parts of Canada, the term "Civic Holiday" is a generic name referring to the annual holiday on the first Monday of August. However, this definition is far from uniform nationwide as Quebec, Newfoundland and Yukon do not recognize it at all. Five other provinces (Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island) do not oblige employers to offer holiday pay on this day, thus not making it a civic holiday in the legal sense. No universal name is recognized for this holiday – the official name varies between the provinces and even between municipalities within Ontario. In Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories it is a statutory holiday.

The Civic Holiday is meant to replace a city's birthday aka Natal Day. Instead of each city and town having a separate birthday celebration and day off the August Civic Holiday is observed. For example, the Halifax Regional Municipality is made up of former cities Halifax and Dartmouth and the town of Bedford. Each of these places used to hold civic birthday celebrations on different days. Many people lived in one jurisdiction but worked in another. This would be very confusing as to which day a person would be excused from work.

This holiday is commonly referred to as "August Long Weekend" but this is not a government term.

Proposed holidays[edit]

In recent years there has been a call for the Canadian government to recognize Saint Patrick's Day as a national holiday. Currently it is a holiday only for provincial government employees in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The other leading candidate for a new holiday is a weekend in February to celebrate the anniversary of the Canadian flag, or more likely a general "Heritage Day". February 15 is already designated as Flag Day, but this is simply a day of commemoration, not a statutory holiday.

In the province of Nova Scotia, which has relatively few days off, a bill has been introduced for a new holiday for the third Monday in February, to start in 2015.[20]

Holidays occurring on non-work days[edit]

If a holiday occurs on a day that is normally not worked, then "... another day off with pay will be provided."[21] There are some exceptions, however. In Alberta, an employee is not entitled to compensation if a holiday falls on a non-work day.[22]

When New Year's Day, Canada Day, Remembrance Day, Christmas Day or Boxing Day falls on a Saturday or Sunday you would not normally work, you are entitled to a holiday with pay on the working day immediately before or after the holiday. If one of the other holidays falls on a weekend, then your employer must add a holiday with pay to your annual vacation or give you a paid day off at another mutually convenient time.

Other observances[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ "Statutory Holidays". Government of Canada. 2012-02-15. Retrieved 2012-03-30. 
  2. ^ "Work Rights – Statutory Holidays". Canadian Labour Congress. 2007-01-17. Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  3. ^ "High Technology Professionals and High Technology Companies in[British Columbia Fact Sheet". Government of BC, Labour & Citizens' Services, Employment Standards Branch. 2007-05-18. Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  4. ^ a b "Statutory Holidays in Canada". Retrieved 2012-10-06. 
  5. ^ Snopes.com – "Boxing Day"Urban Legends Reference Pages. Retrieved 2010-03-22.
  6. ^ http://www.theprovince.com/Family+holiday+coming+2013+Throne+speech/5496298/story.html
  7. ^ "General Holidays and General Holiday Pay in Alberta". Employment.alberta.ca. Retrieved 2011-02-20. 
  8. ^ "Statutory Holidays in British Columbia - 2012 - 2015". Labour.gov.bc.ca. Retrieved 2013-12-25. 
  9. ^ "Manitoba Retail Businesses Holiday Closing Act". Web2.gov.mb.ca. Retrieved 2011-02-20. 
  10. ^ "Paid Statutory Holidays in Employment Standards Legislation". Hrsdc.gc.ca. 2010-12-14. Retrieved 2011-02-20. 
  11. ^ "Prescribed Days of Rest in New Brunswick 2011-2014". Government of New Brunswick. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  12. ^ "Post-Secondary Education, Training, and Labour: Paid Public Holidays and Vacation/ Vacation Pay". Government of New Brunswick. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  13. ^ "Shops' Closing Regulations, C.N.L.R. 1115/96". 
  14. ^ "Labour Standards Code". Office of the Legislative Council, Nova Scotia House of Assembly. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  15. ^ "General Labour Standards Code Regulations". Office of the Legislative Council, Nova Scotia House of Assembly. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  16. ^ "Remembrance Day Act". Office of the Legislative Counsel, Nova Scotia House of Assembly. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  17. ^ a b "Public Holidays". Ontario Ministry of Labour. 2013-05-17. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  18. ^ "Québec's Holidays". 
  19. ^ "Government Services - Holidays". Government of Yukon. 2012-09-26. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  20. ^ Carter, Pat (2013-12-05). "New bill would create N.S. February holiday starting in 2015". The Canadian Press/AP. Retrieved 2014-02-25. 
  21. ^ "General Overview - Statutory Holidays". Human Resources and Social Development Canada. 2011-10-05. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  22. ^ "General Holidays and General Holiday Pay". Human Services - Government of Alberta. March 2011. Retrieved 2012-12-28. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]