The federal government has recently publicly announced that it plans to implement one of the 94 recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 2015 report, Calls to Action, or in French, Appels à l’action, which calls “upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, 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.” The name and date of this new holiday has yet to be announced, but the government has confirmed that such decisions will be made in consultation with Canada’s indigenous peoples.
On June 15, 2017, a private member’s bill, Bill C-369, An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Indigenous Peoples Day), was introduced in the House of Commons. The Bill is currently at second reading in Parliament’s lower chamber. If passed, Bill C-369 would allow a “National Indigenous Peoples Day” to be fixed by proclamation as a statutory holiday, which would apply to all federally-regulated employers in both the private and public spheres. It is not yet clear if the government will implement the new statutory holiday by supporting and possibly amending Bill C-369, or if it will introduce separate legislation.
Territorially, both the Yukon and Northwest Territories observe National Aboriginal Day on June 21 as a statutory holiday. Cultural activities also take place on June 21 in Nunavut and the provinces, but these jurisdictions do not legally recognize the day as a statutory, paid holiday. In Nunavut, the territorial public service does observe Nunavut Day as a holiday on July 9, which celebrates Parliament’s passing of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act and the Nunavut Act in 1993.
Currently, under the Holidays Act, Canada Day, Remembrance Day and Victoria Day are legal holidays federally. In addition to these holidays, the Canada Labour Code also includes New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day in the list of paid days off work. In both non-unionized and unionized workplaces subject to the Code, employers may substitute these days if the prescribed legislative requirements are met in this regard.
We will keep you updated as new developments are announced.