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Canada Day, a statutory (public) holiday: Canada turns 149!

Photo: Government of Canada

Photo: Government of Canada

Every July 1, Canadians commemorate their country’s birthday. Canada turns 149 this year!

Canada Day is a celebration of Confederation in 1867. The Fathers of Confederation were a dream team of lawyers, doctors, journalists and businessmen. They worked jointly to negotiate the terms of Confederation. For instance, George-Étienne Cartier and John A. Macdonald, both lawyers, presented arguments supporting confederation, and Alexander Galt, a businessman, explained the possible financial arrangements of the union.

In all provinces and territories, Canada Day is a statutory (public) holiday. Typically, employees get Canada Day off with regular pay or public holiday pay (depending on the province or territory of employment). In the event employees are required to work on the public holiday, the employee must be paid regular wages and get a substituted day off with pay at a later date (again, this depends on the province or territory of employment). Depending on the jurisdiction, eligible employees are entitled to be paid public holiday pay for a substitute holiday.

Retail business owners

There are various rules and exceptions in relation to Canada Day retail hours, based on jurisdiction and type of retail store. Therefore, retailers should ultimately consult with their local municipality or provincial/territorial government to ensure that they are not violating any laws.

For specific legislative requirements and entitlements to Canada Day in your jurisdiction, consult our payroll publication PaySource, which is the most comprehensive source for Canadian payroll compliance information.

2016 a milestone

The following are significant milestones in Canada’s history:

  • 75th anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong.
  • 100th anniversary of women’s first right to vote in Canada. In 1916, the first provinces to grant women the right to vote were Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
  • 100th anniversaries of the battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel (First World War). On July 1, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador also celebrate Memorial Day, which commemorates the Battle of the Somme.
  • 150th anniversary of the Fenian Raids.
  • 175th anniversary of the Election of Baldwin and Lafontaine – Leaders for responsible government.
  • 175th anniversary of Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s birth.

Did you know?

  • July 1 is also known as Moving Day in Quebec. Several people in Quebec spend Canada Day moving their belongings from one house to another because many leases commence on July 1 and last for one year.
  • Canada Day was originally referred to as Dominion Day, but was renamed Canada Day in 1982. Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau signed the Proclamation of the Constitution Act that same year in April.

Happy Canada Day and have a great long weekend!

Cristina Lavecchia

Cristina is an editor and researcher at First Reference. She is a licensed paralegal and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree, Political Science major at York University. During Cristina's paralegal and undergraduate studies she studied employment standards, occupational health and safety, and workplace safety and insurance. Read more
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2 thoughts on “Canada Day, a statutory (public) holiday: Canada turns 149!
  • Thank you for your comment Michele. The answer depends on the particular jurisdiction involved or if unionized your collective agreement.

  • Michele says:

    If an employee is not regularly scheduled for the statutory holiday, do they still get another day off paid, in lieu of the statutory holiday?

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