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July 1, Canada Day/Dominion Day, a public national holiday

july-1-canada-day-holiday-2014On June 20, 1868, a proclamation signed by the Governor General Lord Monck called upon all Her Majesty’s loving subjects throughout Canada to join in the celebration of the anniversary of the formation of the union of the British North America provinces in a federation under the name of Canada on July 1.

The employment/labour standards legislation of every Canadian jurisdiction makes Canada Day a public (statutory) holiday. Most employees get a day off with regular pay or public holiday pay (depending on the province or territory of employment). If the employee is required to work on the holiday, the employee must be paid regular wages and get a substituted day off with pay at a later date (depending on the jurisdiction).

Under the federal Holidays Act, Canada Day is observed on July 1. The only exception is if July 1 falls on a Sunday, it is observed the following business day, which is Monday. As it turns out, this year July 1 falls on a Tuesday.

For certain employees, Tuesday, July 1st, may not be a day they will receive as the holiday. Depending on the jurisdiction, employment/Labour standards legislation allows an employer to substitute another working day for the employee to take off work if the employer meets certain conditions. A substitute holiday is another working day off work that is designated to replace a statutory holiday. Eligible employees are entitled to be paid statutory holiday pay for a substitute holiday. For specific requirements for your jurisdiction, consult the Library section of HRinfodesk or the legislation/regulations.

In accordance with local Shops’ Closing Acts, Retail Business Holiday Acts, Urban Municipality Acts, Commercial Establishments Business Hours Acts or Days of Rest Acts, provinces such as Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces must close retail businesses and commercial establishments on July 1, Canada Day (or July 2 if July 1 is a Sunday). These same Acts and municipalities (through bylaws) may further restrict hours of operation or allow certain businesses and those in designated tourist areas to open regardless.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, where July 1 is also Memorial Day, there is a different rule under the Shops’ Closing Act. (Memorial Day commemorates the heavy loss of life in the Newfoundland Regiment on the first day of the Battle of the Somme during World War I). This rule ensures that the Memorial and Canada Day holiday takes place on July 1, even if it falls on a Sunday.

Again, for specific requirements for your jurisdiction, consult the Library section of HRinfodesk or the law.

Happy Canada Day!

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Yosie Saint-Cyr

Managing Editor at First Reference Inc.
Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B., is a trained lawyer called to the Quebec bar in 1988 and is still a member in good standing. She practiced business, employment and labour law until 1999. For over 15 years, Yosie has been the Managing Editor of the following publications, Human Resources Advisor, Human Resources PolicyPro, HRinfodesk and Accessibility Standards PolicyPro from First Reference. Yosie is one of Canada’s best known and most respected HR authors, with an extensive background in employment and labour across the country. Read more
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