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Canada Introduces New Federal Holiday: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

On June 3, 2021, 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”), received royal assent. The provisions come into force on August 3, 2021.

The Act creates a new federal statutory holiday, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which will be observed on September 30 of each calendar year beginning September 30, 2021.  The new holiday was proposed in 2015 by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which called upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish a statutory holiday to honour Survivors of residential schools, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.

This new statutory holiday applies to the federally regulated public and private sectors including, notably, employers subject to the Canada Labour Code (the “Code”). Such employers should note the amendment to the definition of “general holiday” under the Code as it now includes the new National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The new holiday is also included under section 193 of the Code, which means that if September 30th is a non-working Saturday or Sunday then employees must be given the day immediately preceding or following the holiday.

Accordingly, there are now 10 general holidays under the Code and federally-regulated employers will be required to treat the new holiday in the same manner as other general holidays.  Unionized employers subject to the Code should review the terms of their collective agreements governing holidays and paid time off work, as the Code addresses the interplay between the statutory holiday provisions and relevant provisions of collective agreements.

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If you have any questions about this topic, or any questions relating to workplace law in the federal sector generally, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer.

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