Stat or not? Here's which provinces observe Truth and Reconciliation Day

Sep 6 2023, 6:13 pm

Canada designated September 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in 2021 and has observed it as a federal statutory holiday since.

Converting the day formerly known as Orange Shirt Day to a holiday was one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations in 2015.

The day’s purpose is to reflect on the atrocities Canada committed against Indigenous peoples. This year, it will fall on a Saturday.

Schools across the country will close, and many people will get the day off work with pay — but not all.

Truth and Reconciliation Day is a federal holiday where postal workers, federal government staffers, and bank employees get the day off.

However, only four provinces/territories will have the day off for all workers. In parts where September 30 is not a holiday, employers mainly decide whether to grant the day off.

Here’s what workers can expect across the country:

British Columbia

September 30 is a statutory holiday for all workers in BC.

BC passed legislation to make that happen on March 9 this year.

“Enshrining National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in BC law will give more people the chance to commemorate the history and legacy of the residential school system on September 30 each year,” wrote the provincial government, adding that this will be done by creating a new act — the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Act — making amendments to the Employment Standards Act.

“Having a provincial statutory holiday means eligible BC workers will be able to observe September 30 with a paid day off or receive payment at premium rates if required to work,” officials said.

In 2022, BC officials consulted with Indigenous partners and communities across the province, including residential school survivors, about how best to observe September 30.

The groups said that the creation of a new provincial statutory holiday was a way for BC residents to partake in events on the day as well as “publicly acknowledge the history and harms of the residential school system and commit to deepening their own understanding of how these institutions continue to impact Indigenous communities.”

Alberta

The Alberta government has not designated September 30 a statutory holiday, leaving the decision on whether workers have the day off up to employers.

The province does, however, commemorate the day as a “direct response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action 80, which called for a day to commemorate the history and legacy of residential schools.”

“In Alberta, we commemorate the day every year and encourage people to participate in events close to them,” the Alberta government’s website reads.

Saskatchewan

September 30 is not a statutory holiday in Saskatchewan either.

“While it is not a statutory holiday in Saskatchewan, it provides an important opportunity to reflect and continue our reconciliation journey,” reads the province’s official website.

“How you choose to mark this day is personal. You may choose to reflect on your experiences, attend local events or learn more about our history.”

Municipal governments in the province’s three largest cities — Regina, Saskatoon, and St. Alberta — designate the day as a holiday.

Manitoba

Like the last two years, Manitoba’s public servants will observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30 again in 2023, and non-essential government services and offices will be closed.

Schools in Manitoba will also be closed on September 30. Manitoba Education and Early Childhood Learning encourages all licensed early learning and childcare facilities to remain open on September 30 as essential services supporting Manitoba families. Centres that decide to close are to notify families directly.

Ontario

September 30 will not be a statutory holiday in Ontario.

Like many other provinces, employers may agree to give staff the day off, especially if required in collective agreements.

“This is a day to reflect on the tragic legacy of the residential school system and the ways it continues to affect Indigenous Peoples in Canada. It is a day to mourn the children who did not return from residential school and to honour the survivors, their families, and the resilience of their communities,” reads a recent statement from Ontario’s three chief justices.

Québec

September 30 is not a provincial holiday in Québec.

“Although the day is not a statutory holiday in Québec, financial institutions will be closed, which will affect some tax deadlines,” reads a statement from Revenu Québec.

New Brunswick

The provincial government has not designated Truth and Reconciliation Day a holiday, but city governments in Moncton and Fredericton have given municipal workers the day off.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia officially recognizes September 30 as a holiday.

“Provincial government offices, public schools and regulated childcare will be closed on Truth and Reconciliation Day,” reads a release from the province. “Businesses are not required to close and have the choice to remain open.”

Prince Edward Island

September 30 is a statutory holiday for all workers in PEI.

Canada’s smallest province recognizes Truth and Reconciliation as a holiday and will close schools and government offices.

“As the birthplace of Confederation, it is significant that Prince Edward Island, also known as Epekwitk, acted swiftly to formally recognize September 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation,” said Senator Brian Francis. “This day is a direct outcome of decades of work by survivors, as well as families and communities, who fought tirelessly for recognition, healing and justice.”

Newfoundland and Labrador

September 30 has been designated a government holiday — but not a statutory holiday — in Newfoundland and Labrador. Schools and government offices will close, but private-sector workplaces can remain open.

“Businesses and other organizations in the province are encouraged to commemorate the Day for Truth and Reconciliation,” the provincial government said.

Yukon

September 30 is a statutory holiday for all workers in Yukon.

Government of Yukon offices, schools and courts will be closed on September 30, while private-sector employers can observe the day at their discretion.

“As a federal statutory day, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation applies to employees of the federal government and federally regulated industries,” reads a release from the territorial government.

“As on all other statutory holidays in the Yukon, retailers can remain open as long as they pay their employees according to law,” says the Retail Council of Canada.

Northwest Territories

September 30 is a statutory holiday for all workers in the Northwest Territories.

After the Canadian government deemed September 30 a statutory holiday in 2021, the Government of the Northwest Territories conducted engagement with Indigenous governments and organizations, businesses, industry organizations and labour groups, non-profit organizations, community governments, and the general public on whether it should amend the Employment Standards Act should be amended to establish September 30 as a statutory holiday, and to “ensure the holiday would be observed in a way that considers and respects their views.”

In July 2022, the NWT government finally amended its Employment Standards Act to add the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to the list of statutory holidays.

Nunavut

In August last year, Nunavut amended its Labour Standards, Legislations, and Public Service Acts to designate September 30 as a statutory holiday in the territory.

This applies to Nunavut public services employees and employees of territorially regulated businesses.

“Observing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, acknowledging the harm from residential schools, and ensuring there is a day to remember and reflect on this dark period of Canada and Nunavut’s history is consistent with Inuuqatigiitsiarniq and promotes reconciliation and healing,” a public service announcement from the territorial government reads.

With files from Daily Hive’s Megan Devlin

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