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Victoria Day, public (statutory) holiday in Canada

may24victoriaday2011In Canada, Monday, May 23, 2016 is recognized as a public (statutory) holiday known as Victoria Day, except in the Atlantic provinces (New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island). In Quebec, the public holiday is referred to as National Patriots’ Day (Journée nationale des patriotes).

Typically, employees do get Victoria 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).

For specific requirements for your jurisdiction consult one of our HR/Payroll publications like PaySource, a comprehensive source for Canadian payroll compliance information.

Retail business owners

Victoria Day is not a public holiday recognized under employment/labour standards in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Although, in these provinces, a day off may be granted to retail industry employees under the Shops’ Closing Act or similar legislation.

There are various rules and exceptions in relation to Victoria 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. This information is also found on HRinfodesk.

Why is Victoria Day recognized in Canada?

Victoria Day has been predominately known to honour Queen Victoria’s birthday. Although, the holiday is also dedicated to celebrating the birth of Britain’s reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II (whose actual birthday is April 21).

Victoria Day was established as a holiday in the Province of Canada in 1845, before confederation in 1867 and Queen Victoria’s death in 1901.

Victoria Day was later made a national holiday in 1901 and first observed on May 24, 1902. Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier had designated the public holiday to fall on May 24, Queen Victoria’s actual birthday.

In 1952, Parliament declared that Victoria Day would be celebrated on the Monday proceeding May 25 every year.

Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, as well as Empress of India. She was only 18 when she inherited the throne in 1837. Queen Victoria was the last teenager to rule England.

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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