New Statutory Holiday for Employees in Federally Regulated Businesses and the Federal Public Sector, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

National Indigenous Truth and Reconciliation Day

The federal government enacted Bill C-5, An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation) (the “Act”). The Act came into force on August 3, 2021.

This legislation establishes a new statutory holiday for employees in federally regulated businesses and the federal public sector, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which will fall on September 30th each year commencing September 30, 2021. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation has been added to the list of general holidays under the Canada Labour Code (the “Code”) to bring the total to 10 holidays each year. In the event that the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation falls on a non-working Saturday or Sunday in the future, employees governed by the Code will be entitled to a paid day off on the day preceding or following the non-working Saturday or Sunday.

Unionized employees governed by the Code may also be entitled to a paid holiday on September 30 this year. Whereas some collective agreements outline a specified list of statutory holidays, others recognize any day proclaimed or declared by the provincial or federal government. Employees are entitled to both the statutory entitlements and collective agreement entitlements unless the collective agreement is found to apply exclusively on the basis that it confers rights and benefits at least as favourable as the general holidays division of the legislation.

For provincially regulated employers (which make up the large majority of the workforce) this new federal holiday will not be a statutory entitlement.  The new holiday has not been added into the definition of “statutory holiday” under section 1 of the British Columbia Employment Standards Act (“ESA”), or any other provincial employment standards legislation to our knowledge.

At the time of this bulletin, this means that employees subject to the ESA are not entitled to a paid day off, or additional wages for working on the new federal holiday. However, the BC Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation has given notice that provincial public-sector employers will honour this day. In addition, some provincially regulated businesses may decide to voluntarily honour this new federal holiday.

Please contact a member of our Labour and Employment Group if you have any questions regarding the above.

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