Most provinces have not made the National day this Friday a statutory holiday
While Canada prepares to honor the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Friday, the majority of provinces have not followed the federal government’s move to make it a statutory holiday for its workers.
New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut have declared Sept. 30 a statutory holiday.
The other provinces and territories are choosing to observe the day in various ways, while some continue consultations with Indigenous groups and businesses about whether to make it a stat.
Some cities, schools and businesses are also choosing different ways to recognize the day.
New Brunswick was the latest to declare Sept. 30 a provincial holiday.
“While this is a day to commemorate the tragic history of residential schools and honour those who did not make it home, as well as their survivors and families, I would encourage all to reflect and be reminded that reconciliation is not just one day of the year,” New Brunswick Aboriginal Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn said in a statement last week.
The day is set to be treated as any other provincial holiday. All essential services, including health care, will continue to be delivered. The holiday will be optional for private sector businesses, the province said.
Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn, a group representing Mi’kmaq communities in New Brunswick, said the day is set aside for people to remember and honor victims and survivors of residential schools, including children from First Nations who attended day schools.
The day, originally known as Orange Shirt Day, was established in honor of the experience of Phyllis Webstad, whose gift of clothing from her grandmother was taken away on Webstad’s first day at a residential school.
The federal government made the day a statutory holiday for its workers and federally regulated workplaces last year.
The discovery last year of what are believed to be 215 unmarked graves at a former school site in Kamloops, B.C., forced the country to listen to what survivors had been saying for years.
Since the discovery, numerous First Nations across Canada have begun their own ground-penetrating searches of school sites, Pope Francis delivered a historic and long-awaited apology on Canadian soil for the role the Roman Catholic Church played in running many of the residential schools, and a flag honouring those impacted by the schools was raised on Parliament Hill.
The Saskatchewan government said it has no plans to make the day a statutory holiday for the province. But the government is encouraging residents to take a moment to reflect and discuss the importance of meaningful reconciliation. Flags will be lowered to half-mast at all Saskatchewan government buildings.
The Manitoba government recently announced it would observe the day for a second year, while discussions continue about making it an official statutory holiday. Schools and non-essential government services and offices will be closed.
The province said it is continuing consultations with Indigenous and labour groups.
In Ontario, the provincial government has not deemed the day a statutory holiday.
That means the stat only applies to federally regulated industries in the province, including federal government employees.
Industries included in the federally regulated private sector are air transportation, banks, grain elevators and feed/seed mills, First Nations band councils and Indigenous self-governments, most federal Crown corporations such as Canada Post, port services, courier services, radio and television broadcasting, railways, transportation services that cross provincial or international borders, telecommunications, and uranium mining or atomic energy workers.
Workers in most other industries in Ontario will have a normal work day, unless their employer has decided to give them the day off or it has been negotiated into collective agreements or employment contracts.
The Retail Council of Canada notes that the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is not recognized by either Ontario’s Retail Holiday Act of Employment Standards Act “meaning it has no legal impact on a head office or retail establishment for retailers.”
Ontario public service employees will not receive the day off, according to one union, but Indigenous employees can make a request to receive a paid compassionate day.
Part of the article was reported by the Canadian Press.