In A Flash

Federal and Some Provincial Governments Announce Day Off for Certain Employees on September 19th Honouring the Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II

The Federal Government has announced a day off to coincide with the Queen’s funeral on September 19th, but would apply to certain government and public sector employees only.  Some, but not all, provinces have followed suit. The following is a summary of the announcements from the various levels of government as of today.

It is important to note that most levels of government have not actually declared a holiday for all employers. Rather, the announced day off would apply to only certain government and public sector employees.

Here is what we know so far:

While the initial press conference by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau referred to the step as declaring a holiday, the Federal Government has since clarified that it will be a day off with pay for Federal Government employees only. It is not being made a holiday under the Canada Labour Code (the “CLC”), and Federally-regulated private sector employers and Crown Corporations governed by the CLC are not required to observe a holiday but “are free” to choose to do so.  For example, Canada Post has announced that it will provide a one-time paid holiday to its employees.

Ontario has stated that it will not be observing a provincial holiday for the Queen’s funeral, and will instead mark the date as a special day of “mourning”.

Quebec has similarly stated that it will not be observing a provincial holiday, and will instead observe a special day of “commemoration”.

British Columbia has stated it will follow the Federal Government’s lead. The holiday in BC will largely apply to the public sector, as public schools, public post-secondary institutions, and most Crown corporations will be closed.

Alberta has stated it will not observe a statutory holiday. The province has declared a provincial day of mourning on September 19th. Employers are encouraged, but not required, to make accommodations for employees to either attend an outdoor ceremony in honour of the Queen at the Alberta Legislature at 10 AM on Monday morning or otherwise mark the occasion of the Queen’s funeral.

Newfoundland and Labrador has declared a “one-time” provincial holiday in the public service, with provincial government offices and schools closed. However, the private sector will not be required to follow suit.

New Brunswick has declared a “one-time” provincial holiday, with government offices and public schools closed. The holiday is optional for the private sector.

Nova Scotia has stated that it will recognize the date as a provincial holiday, with government offices, public schools, and regulated child care closed, but with healthcare services remaining available. Private businesses will have the choice to remain open. It is not a statutory holiday.

Prince Edward Island has declared a statutory holiday for all provincially-regulated workers in both the public and private sectors, with government offices and public schools closed. The Prince Edward Island government has stated that September 19th will be treated “like other statutory holidays as outlined in the Employment Standards Act”.

Saskatchewan has set September 19th as a “day in tribute and commemoration” of the Queen, but will not be observing a statutory holiday.

Manitoba has declared that it will observe a “day of mourning”, with all non-essential government services and offices closed, but with schools, childcare facilities and healthcare services continuing to operate.

A Special Note for Employers with Unionized Workforces:

Many unionized employers have collective agreements that include language granting holiday entitlements for any day declared by either the Provincial or Federal Governments as a general or statutory holiday.  This sort of language is typically applied to provide those working at both provincially and federally regulated workplaces with all general or statutory holidays declared by either government.  However, in this unique situation, it does not appear that the Federal and some Provincial Governments have declared a statutory or general holiday.

That said, the language from one collective agreement to the next will differ.  Accordingly, employers with unionized workplaces should carefully review their collective agreement language – and seek legal advice where needed – to determine if the current circumstances give rise to a holiday entitlement.

We will continue to monitor federal and provincial plans to commemorate the day of the Queen’s funeral, and provide updates as they become available. Employers are encouraged to check back frequently to ensure they are up-to-date on federal and provincial requirements with respect to potential closures and required time off.

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

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