Statutory holidays are typically consistent across jurisdictions. But not always
By Stuart Rudner
The answer to the Civic Holiday question is simple: it is a holiday for some, but not for others.
Every jurisdiction in Canada has its own employment standards legislation. That means that every province and territory, as well as the federal jurisdiction, has their own rules and regulations. That includes statutory holidays.
For the most part, the statutory holidays are consistent across the jurisdictions. However, there are some differences which are important to be mindful of. The one that is of more immediate relevance is the Civic Holiday, or the August long weekend, as is typically referred to.
I grew up in Montreal, where we did not recognize the August long weekend but we did have an extra holiday in June (St. Jean Baptiste). When I moved to Ontario and heard people talking about the August long weekend, I was surprised. Conversely, people that grew up with the holiday weekend are shocked to be told that officially, it is not a holiday to Ontario.
The bottom line is that most people assume that it is a holiday to which they are entitled. And many businesses do shut down and give their employees the day off.
However, if they are provincially regulated, then they are not obligated to if they are located in
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
- Federal jurisdiction
Other organizations give their employees the day off, but do not treat it as a statutory holiday, with applicable payment obligations. And still others offer floating holidays which most will use for the Civic Holiday.
For employers with workers in several Canadian jurisdictions, it is critical that they confirm the statutory holidays in each jurisdiction. First, they might be inadvertently breaching employment standards if they are not providing all required holidays. Second, they may be giving their employees more holidays than they are entitled to.
For those who will be enjoying the August long weekend, think of those less fortunate.