For the first time, September 30 will mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This public holiday under the Federal Holidays Act and the Canada Labour Code is meant to give federal public servants and federally regulated employees an opportunity to recognize the legacy of residential schools. Employees will receive general holiday pay depending on the method that they earn their wages. For most employees, their holiday pay will be equal to at least one-twentieth (1/20) of the wages, excluding overtime pay, that they earned in the four-week period immediately before the week in which the general holiday occurs. Note: This is not a public holiday in any of the provinces or territories covered by provincial employment/labour standards legislation.
However, several provinces/territories have decided to observe this holiday as a commemoration day or a public holiday for provincial or territorial government employees while they study covering this holiday as a public holiday under employment/labour standards legislation. This holiday also has an impact on payroll.
Ontario: The Ontario government has announced that they will not make the federal National Day for Truth and Reconciliation holiday a provincial statutory holiday under the Employment Standards Act, meaning only the federal government and federally regulated businesses and organizations in the province of Ontario will have the day off. That said, provincially regulated employers have the discretion to observe September 30 as a public holiday like they do already for the First Monday in August (i.e., Civic Holiday). Provincially regulated employers need to be aware that even if they are open for business as usual, banks and federal government offices will be closed. Payrolls and direct deposits do not process on bank holidays. You must run your payroll on the prior business day.
British Columbia: Although British Columbia recently announced it would honour the holiday for all public sector employees, excluding public sector employers in British Columbia, provincially regulated employers are not obligated to recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a paid general holiday. However, employers should carefully review the specific terms of their collective and employment agreements to determine if there are any provisions that might obligate them to recognize a federally legislated holiday. The British Columbia government will study and consult with interested stakeholders if the holiday should be incorporated in the Employment Standards Act.
Alberta: The Alberta government, meanwhile, has stated it will not recognize the day but will allow employers to decide whether they want to treat September 30 as a general holiday.
Saskatchewan: The Saskatchewan government has also announced that it will not be observing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday. However, the University of Saskatchewan and the City of Saskatoon will honour the holiday.
Manitoba: The Manitoba government recently announced that it will recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30. However, the Day has not yet been proposed as a new general holiday under The Employment Standards Code (Manitoba). Accordingly, unless observance of the Day is mandated pursuant to a collective agreement or employment agreement, provincially regulated employers are not required to observe the Day as a general holiday.
Northwest Territories: On August 26, 2021, the Government of Northwest Territories issued an order to mark September 30 as a holiday for the territory’s public service, commemorating the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation has been established as a holiday for NT public servants on September 30 under section 35(1) of the Public Service Act. Under the Union of Northern Workers Collective Agreement, employees of the Northwest Territories government are provided a paid holiday when proclaimed by an Act of Parliament as a National Holiday or by an Act of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories as a Territorial Holiday. This means territorial government employees will observe this holiday annually starting this year and moving forward.
The Northwest Territories Employment Standards Act has not been amended to make the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation September 30th holiday a territory-wide statutory holiday. This means employees under the jurisdiction of the Employment Standards Act are not entitled to the holiday.
Engagement on potential changes to the Employment Standards Act will be undertaken over the coming months to ensure the holiday is observed in NT in a manner that considers and respects the views of Indigenous governments, Indigenous organizations, community governments, labour stakeholders and private industry.
The Prince Edward Island government will begin this year to observe September 30 as the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. Provincial government offices, schools in the Public Schools Branch and la Commission scolaire de langue française will be closed for the day. Some Island businesses and organizations may decide to also observe the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. This Fall, Premier King will be introducing an amendment to the Employment Standards Act to officially recognize September 30 as a provincial statutory holiday for all Islanders.
Newfoundland and Labrador has announced that it, too, will observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30th. The day will honour survivors and raise awareness about the victims of residential schools in Canada. September 30 will be a paid holiday for government employees and schools will be closed, but for now, the private sector will be free to close or stay open.
Nova Scotia will officially recognize September 30 as the annual Truth and Reconciliation Day beginning in 2021. In a release, the province said provincial government offices, public schools and regulated child care will be closed on that day. Businesses will have the choice to remain open, as they do on other holidays.
New Brunswick will not treat the new National Day of Truth and Reconciliation as a provincial statutory holiday in the province. I will be left up to individual private businesses to decide how they will mark the day.
Nunavut has not yet stated its position on this holiday.
The Yukon government announced it will mark September 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Those working in federally regulated workplaces in the Yukon and Yukon government employees will not be required to be at work on September 30. Schools will be closed across the territory. The Government of Yukon will work closely with First Nations, businesses and communities in the coming months on how to mark this day and to commemorate it with respect and compassion.
Quebec through its premier has stated that it isn’t interested in adding a statutory holiday in the province to recognize Indigenous Peoples. Premier François Legault told reporters that the province has enough statutory holidays and the government isn’t interested in adding another, no matter the reason.
Payroll: The new federal general holiday has implications for financial services such as banks, which are federally regulated. They will observe this holiday. This means that on September 30, there will be no clearing or settlements. Federally regulated and provincially regulated organizations should take extra caution to assess how these closures will affect their operations and ensure they account for this potential disruption, such as issuing payroll.