Statutory (public) holiday
Thanksgiving Day is a public (statutory) holiday in all jurisdictions across Canada, except for the Atlantic provinces (New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island). Federally regulated workplaces also observe Thanksgiving Day as a statutory holiday, regardless of their provincial/territorial status.
Employees are therefore entitled to a day off with regular pay or public holiday pay (depending on the province or territory of employment). In the event an 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 (again, this depends on the province or territory of employment).
For specific legislative requirements and entitlements to Thanksgiving Day in your jurisdiction, consult our payroll publication PaySource, which is the most comprehensive source for Canadian payroll compliance information. Click here to try PaySource free for 30 days!
Retail business owners
In Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec and Saskatchewan, as long as retailers pay their employees according to the law, they are allowed to be open on Thanksgiving Day.
In the Atlantic provinces, retail business holidays legislation requires certain retail businesses to close on Thanksgiving day.
In Ontario, Thanksgiving Day is a retail closing day for several retailers (with exceptions).
There are various rules and exceptions in relation to Thanksgiving 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 more information on retail business holiday rules and regulations in your jurisdiction, PaySource is a good source of information.
Did you know?
The first Thanksgiving Day in Canada after Confederation was observed on April 15, 1872, to celebrate the recovery of The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) from a serious illness.
Later on, Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday in Canada (1879), with November 6th declared as the official day of celebration.
Eventually, on Thursday, January 31, 1957, the government proclaimed the holiday to be celebrated the second Monday in October for general thanksgiving to Almighty God for the blessings with which the people of Canada have been favoured. This was also because, after the World Wars, Remembrance Day (November 11th) and Thanksgiving Day (November 6th) fell in the same week.
Many Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving with a large family meal consisting mainly of turkey and pumpkin pie over the three-day weekend. It is also often a time for weekend getaways.
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!