Public Holidays in Canada

National Holidays in Canada:

 

Date English Name French Name Remarks
January 1 New Year's Day Nouvel an (Jour de l'an) Statutory. Celebrates the first day of every year in the Gregorian calendar. Also January 2 in Quebec.
Friday before Easter Sunday Good Friday vendredi saint Statutory, except in Quebec where Easter Monday is statutory. Acknowledges the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, traditionally on 3 April, 33 AD; see Good Friday article for details. Not fully observed in Quebec.
Monday on or before May 24 Victoria Day fête de la Reine Statutory, except in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Celebration of the birthday of the current Canadian monarch. (Originally, May 24 was the birthday of Queen Victoria.) In Quebec, Victoria Day and the National Patriotes Day (Commemoration of the Lower Canada Rebellion) are celebrated on the same day.
July 1 Canada Day fête du Canada Statutory. Commemoration of Canada's 1867 Confederation. In Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Day and Memorial Day (Commemoration of the Battle of the Somme) are celebrated on the same day.
First Monday in September Labour Day fête du travail Statutory.
Second Monday in October Thanksgiving action de grâce Statutory, except in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. A day of general thanks for one's blessings. (Note: Thanksgiving is not celebrated on the same day as it is in the U.S.)
November 11 Remembrance Day jour du souvenir Statutory holiday everywhere except Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Commemoration of Canada's war dead. Anniversary of the armistice ending World War I in 1918.
December 25 Christmas Noël Statutory. Celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ; traditionally 25 December 1 BC.
December 26 Boxing Day lendemain de Noël Statutory in Ontario and federal jurisdictions. Day when shops sell off excess Christmas inventory. It is not an official Holiday in Quebec or British Columbia.

Each province of Canada has its own provincial holiday(s). Although not official holidays, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and Hallowe'en are traditionally celebrated by Canadians.

The observance of individuals' religious holidays is widely accepted as well (see Multiculturalism). For example, some school children and employees take days off for Jewish holidays, Muslim holidays, or Eastern Orthodox observances according to the Julian calendar.

Statutory holidays

A statutory holiday (also known as "general" or "public" holiday) in Canada is legislated either through the federal, provincial, or territorial governments. Most workers, public or private, are entitled to take the day off with regular pay. However, for businesses that are normally open employers may require employees to work on such a holiday, but in this case must be paid at a premium rate -- usually 1½ (known as "time and a half") or 2 times (known as "double time") the regular pay. In most provinces, when a statutory holiday falls on a normal day off (generally a weekend), the following work day is considered a statutory holiday.

 

Federal

The nine statutory holidays listed above are mandated by federal legislation for federally regulated employees, as is Easter Monday. All banks apply these holidays to their schedule.

 

Provincial and territorial

Provinces and territories generally adopt the same holidays as the federal government with some variations:

  • Alberta - 9 holidays
    • Employers must give either Boxing Day or Remembrance Day as a statutory holiday.
    • Family Day - third Monday in February
    • Heritage Day - first Monday of August
  • British Columbia - 9 holidays
    • Boxing Day is not a statutory holiday.
    • BC Day - first Monday in August
  • Manitoba - 9 holidays
    • Manitoba's newest unnamed holiday will be celebrated on the 3rd Monday of February starting February 18th 2008. This holiday is similar to Family Day in Alberta and Saskatchewan
    • Remembrance Day and Boxing Day are not statutory holidays, although only the Retail Sector is open on these days within specific regulatory guidelines for hours of service.
    • Remembrance Day is not termed a statutory holiday, but rather an "Official day of Observance", and must be paid overtime if required to work on this day. Most Manitobans, with the exception of the retail sector, get the day off.
    • First Monday in August.
  • New Brunswick - 7 holidays
    • Victoria Day, Thanksgiving, and Boxing Day are not statutory holidays.
    • New Brunswick Day - first Monday in August
  • Newfoundland and Labrador - 7 holidays (most observed on closest Monday)
    • St. Patrick's Day - March 17
    • St. George's Day - April 23
    • Discovery Day - June 24
    • Orangemen's Day - July 12
    • Memorial Day - July 1
    • Regatta Day - Observed in St. John's Metro area first Wednesday in August (Weather dependent)
    • Armistice Day - November 11
  • Northwest Territories - 10 holidays
    • National Aboriginal Day - June 21
  • Nova Scotia - 6 holidays (including Remembrance Day; see below)
    • Victoria Day, Thanksgiving, and Boxing Day are not statutory holidays.
    • Remembrance Day is a special case and employers have the option of giving Remembrance Day or an alternate day off.
    • Natal Day - First Monday in August is not a statutory holiday but a common day off.
  • Nunavut - 9 holidays
    • Nunavut Day - July 9, originated as a paid holiday for Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated and regional Inuit associations. It became a ½ day holiday for Government employees in 1999 and a full day in 2001. Most employers give the day off with the notable exceptions being the Federal Government and the North West Company.
    • Boxing Day is not a statutory holiday.
    • First Monday in August.
  • Ontario - 8 holidays
    • Remembrance Day is not a statutory holiday in Ontario.
    • Although not a statutory holiday, municipalities may designate the first Monday in August as a civic holiday. This is called Simcoe Day in Toronto, and Colonel By Day in Ottawa, with other areas using other names.
  • Prince Edward Island - 6 holidays
    • The August Civic holiday, Easter Monday, Thanksgiving, and Boxing Day are not statutory holidays. However, Federal Government employees (and some Provincial employees) do have arrangements in their collective agreements to receive these as paid days off. Provincial employees in some cases have bargained for the Gold Cup and Saucer Day in place of the August Civic holiday.
  • Quebec - 8 holidays
    • Employers must give either Good Friday or Easter Monday as a statutory holiday.
    • Victoria Day coincides with National Patriotes Day.
    • Fête Nationale (St. John the Baptist’s Day) - June 24
    • Construction Holiday takes place during the last two weeks of July — while it applies officially only to the construction industry, many other Quebecers arrange to take their vacations during these two weeks.
    • Many of the specific details of employment law are quite different in Quebec.
  • Saskatchewan - 9 holidays
    • Family Day - third Monday in February
    • Saskatchewan Day - first Monday in August
  • Yukon - 9 holidays
    • Discovery Day - third Monday in August

Many employers give their employees days off that may not be statutory holidays in the particular province, particularly Boxing Day. Similarly, many federally regulated employees have negotiated additional holidays, that are common holidays in the provinces such that many also take Easter Monday and the first Monday in August.

 

Civic holidays

In Canada, there are two definitions to the term "civic holiday":

 

Legal definition

By law, a civic holiday is defined as any holiday which is legally recognized but where the employer is not obliged to offer holiday pay.

 

The August holiday

Another common definition of the civic holiday refers to a particular annual holiday, celebrated on the first Monday of August in most Canadian provinces. However, this definition is far from uniform nationwide. Two provinces and one territory do not recognize it at all, and five other provinces do not oblige employers to offer holiday pay on this day, thus making it a civic holiday in the legal sense. No universal name is recognized for this holiday, either — the official name may vary from municipality to municipality (e.g. Colonel By Day in Ottawa, Simcoe Day in Toronto, etc.), and in common usage the holiday is simply known as Civic Holiday.

 

City holidays

Some cities also have statutory holidays that are celebrated only within the city limits. For instance, the morning of the Stampede Parade is a legal half-day holiday in the city of Calgary.

 

Proposed holidays

In recent years there has been a call for the Canadian government to recognize St. Patrick's Day as a national holiday. Currently it is an official holiday only in Newfoundland and Labrador. This proposal has been promoted by the Guinness corporation.

The other leading candidate for a new holiday is a weekend in February to celebrate the anniversary of the Canadian flag, or more likely a general "Heritage Day". February 15 is already designated as Flag Day, but this is simply a day of commemoration, not a statutory holiday.

The major Canadian breweries have long lobbied for a holiday in June.

Some Canadians believe that the country does not have enough holidays (in comparison to the United States and the United Kingdom, and although these nations have about the same number of nationally recognized holidays, they generally receive more days off work and school). Proposals for more work holidays are strongly opposed by many employers, however.

In the province of Nova Scotia, there has been debate over a statutory holiday in the month of February, due to a lack of days off. However, no action has been taken so far.

 

Other observances

  • National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women on December 6
  • Canadian Multiculturalism Day on June 27
  • National Aboriginal Solidarity Day on June 21
  • Commonwealth Day on the second Monday in March. This has been observed as a holiday in some Commonwealth countries.