Canadian Provincial Holidays

Canadian Provincial Holidays

A statutory holiday (also known as “general” or “public” holiday) in Canada is legislated either through the federal, provincial, or territorial governments. Most workers, public or private, are entitled to take the day off with regular pay. However, for businesses that are normally open employers may require employees to work on such a holiday, but in this case must be paid at a premium rate — usually 1½ (known as “time and a half”) or 2 times (known as “double time”) the regular pay. In most provinces, when a statutory holiday falls on a normal day off (generally a weekend), the following work day is considered a statutory holiday.

Federal Holidays

The nine statutory holidays listed here are mandated by federal legislation for federally regulated employees, as is Easter Monday. All banks apply these holidays to their schedule.

Provincial and territorial Holidays

Provinces and territories generally adopt the same holidays as the federal government with some variations:

  • Alberta – 9 holidays
    • Employers must give either Boxing Day or Remembrance Day as a statutory holiday.
    • Family Day – third Monday in February
    • Heritage Day – first Monday of August
  • Manitoba – 9 holidays
    • Manitoba’s newest unnamed holiday will be celebrated on the 3rd Monday of February starting February 18th 2008. This holiday is similar to Family Day in Alberta and Saskatchewan
    • Remembrance Day and Boxing Day are not statutory holidays, although only the Retail Sector is open on these days within specific regulatory guidelines for hours of service.
    • Remembrance Day is not termed a statutory holiday, but rather an “Official day of Observance”, and must be paid overtime if required to work on this day. Most Manitobans, with the exception of the retail sector, get the day off.
    • First Monday in August.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador – 7 holidays (most observed on closest Monday)
    • St. Patrick’s Day – March 17
    • St. George’s Day – April 23
    • Discovery Day – June 24
    • Orangemen’s Day – July 12
    • Memorial Day – July 1
    • Regatta Day – Observed in St. John’s Metro area first Wednesday in August (Weather dependent)
    • Armistice Day – November 11
  • Nunavut – 9 holidays
    • Nunavut Day – July 9, originated as a paid holiday for Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated and regional Inuit associations. It became a ½ day holiday for Government employees in 1999 and a full day in 2001. Most employers give the day off with the notable exceptions being the Federal Government and the North West Company.
    • Boxing Day is not a statutory holiday.
    • First Monday in August.
  • Ontario – 8 holidays
    • Remembrance Day is not a statutory holiday in Ontario.
    • Although not a statutory holiday, municipalities may designate the first Monday in August as a civic holiday. This is called Simcoe Day in Toronto, and Colonel By Day in Ottawa, with other areas using other names.
  • Prince Edward Island – 6 holidays
    • The August Civic holiday, Easter Monday, Thanksgiving, and Boxing Day are not statutory holidays. However, Federal Government employees (and some Provincial employees) do have arrangements in their collective agreements to receive these as paid days off. Provincial employees in some cases have bargained for the Gold Cup and Saucer Day in place of the August Civic holiday.
  • Quebec – 8 holidays
    • Employers must give either Good Friday or Easter Monday as a statutory holiday.
    • Victoria Day coincides with National Patriotes Day.
    • Fête Nationale (St. John the Baptist’s Day) – June 24
    • Construction Holiday takes place during the last two weeks of July — while it applies officially only to the construction industry, many other Quebecers arrange to take their vacations during these two weeks.
    • Many of the specific details of employment law are quite different in Quebec.

Many employers give their employees days off that may not be statutory holidays in the particular province, particularly Boxing Day. Similarly, many federally regulated employees have negotiated additional holidays, that are common holidays in the provinces such that many also take Easter Monday and the first Monday in August.

Civic holidays

In Canada, there are two definitions to the term “civic holiday”:

Legal definition

By law, a civic holiday is defined as any holiday which is legally recognized but where the employer is not obliged to offer holiday pay.

The August holiday

Another common definition of the civic holiday refers to a particular annual holiday, celebrated on the first Monday of August in most Canadian provinces. However, this definition is far from uniform nationwide. Two provinces and one territory do not recognize it at all, and five other provinces do not oblige employers to offer holiday pay on this day, thus making it a civic holiday in the legal sense. No universal name is recognized for this holiday, either — the official name may vary from municipality to municipality (e.g. Colonel By Day in Ottawa, Simcoe Day in Toronto, etc.), and in common usage the holiday is simply known as Civic Holiday.

City holidays

Some cities also have statutory holidays that are celebrated only within the city limits. For instance, the morning of the Stampede Parade is a legal half-day holiday in the city of Calgary.

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