Is Remembrance Day a Statutory Holiday in Ontario?
On November 11, 2015, we will remember the military men and women, who have served, and continue to serve our country during times of war, conflict and peace. Though we recognize Remembrance Day across Canada, in Ontario it is a federal statutory holiday and not a provincial statutory holiday (also not a statutory holiday in Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Manitoba). This means that government employees and federally regulated employees (e.g. most employees who work in banking, transportation, telephone, radio, television, communication or broadcasting, and federal crown corporations like Canada Post) are entitled to take the day off with regular pay.
If a federal regulated employee is required to work on Remembrance Day, the employee must either receive a day off in lieu of the holiday or must be paid at a premium rate – usually “time and a half” of the employee’s regular wages.
In Ontario, Remembrance Day is a regular workday – there is no requirement for employers to give employees paid time off on Remembrance Day. This is why most private sector, provincially regulated workplaces (e.g. retail establishments, restaurants, professional services offices etc.) remain open on November 11th.
The Remembrance Day Observance Act, 1997, S.O. 1997, c. 18, encourages Ontarians to observe two minutes of silence at 11:00am on November 11th. However, the Remembrance Day Observance Act is voluntary, so an employee would not be entitled to refuse to work at 11:00am to observe 2-minutes of silence: an employer would have discretion and the final say about whether or not it would permit the observance.
There are those who feel that Remembrance Day should be a statutory holiday for all provinces across Canada. Bill C-597, which received a third reading on June 19, 2015, aims to make Remembrance Day a national legal holiday, like Canada Day and Victoria Day. However, for those of us in Ontario, even if Bill C-597 were to pass in the next session of Parliament, it would still be up to the province to decide whether Remembrance Day would be a statutory holiday in Ontario.
What are your thoughts? Should Remembrance Day be a statutory holiday in Ontario?