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Remembrance Day: We must remember them!

The campaign to have Remembrance Day declared a national public (statutory) holiday in Canada without removing any existing public holiday is ongoing, and according to our recent HRinfodesk poll and comments received, many are of the opinion that it should (139 respondents out of a total of 163 said yes).

The Canadian government has a great web page on the Veterans Affairs Canada website that provides information on why it is important to remember and never forget the courage, service and sacrifice these dedicated veterans who have served Canada in times of war, armed conflict and peace did and do for us and the world as a whole.

Many activities, ceremonies and events across Canada and in communities are being held. If Canada would make Remembrance Day a national public holiday, employers could make it a corporate event for employees to attend one of these activities with their families, as part of the corporate culture, in the morning and then allow employees to enjoy the rest of the day as they see fit.The public holiday would have meaning and would honour what it is meant for.

Also having a national holiday will end the mishmash of rules in various jurisdictions.

State of the law in Canada

In Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador Remembrance Day is a paid public (statutory) holiday under their respective Employment/Labour Standards Acts. Employees get a day off with regular pay and/or holiday pay; 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 province or territory of employment). Federally regulated employees also have a holiday on Remembrance Day.

Currently, in Manitoba and Nova Scotia some employees get a day off under the Remembrance Day Act. Employees who do not work that day, do not get paid for the day, unless the employer offers pay as an added benefit.

In Ontario and Quebec, Remembrance Day is a memorial day and not a public holiday. There are other variations/exemptions and for specifics for your jurisdiction, consult the Library section of HRinfodesk.

Every employer carrying on or engaged in an industry to which the Remembrance Day Act does not apply must relieve all employees from duty, and suspend the operations of the industry or sector, for a period of three minutes, at one minute before 11 o’clock on the forenoon of Remembrance Day (rarely happens). In order to attend ceremonies, employees would have to ask for a paid or unpaid day off (depending on workplace policies) or a vacation day.

In the United States this day is called Veteran’s Day and is also observed on November 11.

What is Remembrance Day?

When World War One ended, (or the Great War, as it was known at that time), an armistice agreement was signed between the Allies and Germany which took place in Paris, France, at 5:00 AM (Paris time), on Monday, November 11th, 1918. Upon signing this agreement, hostilities ceased at 11:00 A.M.

Every person in Canada is called to take a moment of silence on November 11 at 11:00 a.m. every year to commemorate Canadian contributions and sacrifices in wars and international conflicts.

The poppy represents the symbol of Remembrance.

Remembrance is the cornerstone of The Royal Canadian Legion’s work in Canada. The Poppy Campaign is a major source of funds used to assist veterans, ex-service people and their dependents. A writer first made the connection between the poppy and battlefield deaths during the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century, remarking that fields that were barren before battle exploded with the blood-red flowers after the fighting ended. Lieut-Col. John McCrae, the Canadian doctor who wrote the poem In Flanders Fields, made the same connection 100 years later, during the First World War, and the scarlet poppy quickly became the symbol for soldiers who died in battle. In November 1921, the first symbolic poppies were distributed in Canada.

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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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