ON THE CALENDAR TODAY
Statutory holidays in Canada
The name of a “statutory”, “public” or “general holiday” in Canada is given to the day when employers are obliged by law to give their workers a paid time off. If an employee chooses to work, he or she must receive a “time and a half” or a “double time” pay check.
These rules are undisputable for five nationwide holidays: New Year’s Day, Good Friday (the day before Easter), Canada Day, Labour Day (first Monday in September), and Christmas.
In some cases, Good Friday may be exchanged with Easter Monday. Territorial and provincial governments may impose the rest of statutory holidays, and there is no restriction to this law. Alberta is a province with the biggest number of paid holidays (12), and Quebec is the one with the smallest (8). There are many commercial holidays in Canada, which are not recognized as civic or federal, like Valentine’s Day or Black Friday.
Apart from the civic holidays that all territories and provinces endorse, there are also seven that definitely concern the paychecks of government employers, but only could be statutory in some territories: Chinese New Year (occurs after the new moon between January 21 and February 20), Easter Monday, Victoria Day (Monday before or during May 24), August Civic Holiday (first Monday in August), Thanksgiving (second Monday in October), Remembrance Day (November 11), and Boxing Day (December 26). Particular provinces celebrate different holidays; besides the ones enumerated above, there are fifteen more distributed throughout the country, such as Heritage Day or Discovery Day.
There is an average of 11 statutory holidays within the Canadian provinces and territories. These special occasions are set in stone in country’s federal calendar, but there are still many proposals as to which events and national symbols still should be honored. For example, although Nova Scotia has already celebrated the third Monday in February as Heritage Day since 2015, some Canadian citizens believe that February 15 should become a nationwide holiday and be also adopted as Flag Day.
The foundation of a statutory holiday is that the day-off is paid; additionally, if such holiday falls on a non-work day, an employee is entitled to another free day. This law does not take effect in Alberta, where there are already many public holidays. Nevertheless, the five main statutory days must be compensated on a preceding Friday or a following Monday. Some free days occur for workers not on a federal or provincial level, but as municipal holidays, such as the August Civic Holiday, which is not recognized by the territory of Ontario, but individual city municipalities.
The curious thing about the name “civic holiday” in Canada is that it applies to the law enforcement of the compulsory paid holidays, but also to the non-obligatory August Civic Holiday, which is a celebration of all cities’ Natal Days. This confusing division might be a kind of encapsulation of the statutory holiday system in Canada: it is complicated, but very reasonable after some deep thought.