: Client Update: Isn't Canada Day always on July 1?

June 11, 2018

Grant Machum and Sheila Lanctôt

While most people think Canada Day is on July 1st, once every 6 years, July 1st falls on a Sunday. When that happens, according to federal legislation, Canada Day is legally observed on July 2nd.

The Holidays Act is a federal legislation that provides for three specific holidays to be observed nationally; Remembrance Day, Victoria Day, and Canada Day. The Act provides that Canada Day is to be observed on July 1st, except if it falls on a Sunday. In that case, Canada Day is observed as a legal holiday on July 2nd.

Why does this matter?

July 1st, 2018 falls on a Sunday.

Employment standards legislation in each Atlantic Province outlines how employees are to be compensated on public holidays. In Nova Scotia (who has recently amended the regulations under their employment standards legislation) as well as Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Day is observed on July 1, regardless of what day of the week it falls.

In New Brunswick and on Prince Edward Island, employment standards legislation does not designate a specific date for Canada Day, which means that when Canada Day falls on a Sunday, it will be observed on July 2nd, in accordance with the Holidays Act.

What observing Canada Day on July 2nd means for employers

  • When Canada Day is observed on July 2nd, July 1st is to be treated the same as any other Sunday would be treated.
  • Provincial employment standards legislation that outlines time off and compensation for Canada Day applies for July 2nd.

What must employers pay their employees who work on a public holiday?

  • Although most retail businesses are required to be closed on public holidays, the legislation exempts some businesses; therefore, some employees are asked to work on public holidays.
  • When scheduling a substitute day off, employers and employees should check their provincial employment standards legislation as there are differing constraints on when the substitute day can be scheduled in relation to the holiday.
If Canada Day falls on a working day in any Atlantic province
  • Qualifying employees who work on a public holiday must receive 1.5 times their regular wage rate for each hour worked, in addition to their regular day’s pay.
If Canada Day falls on a non-working day for an employee in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, or on Prince Edward Island
  • Qualifying employees who do not work on a public holiday must receive their regular day’s pay for that day or a mutually agreed upon day off in lieu of the holiday.
If Canada Day falls on a non-working day for employees in New Brunswick
  • The rules are similar to that of the other provinces in that a paid holiday may be given to the employee on either their next working day, or a mutually agreed day off; or
  • Employees in New Brunswick have the option of taking a regular’s day pay for the holiday and not taking a “makeup holiday”

For Nova Scotia & newfoundland and labrador employers

Amendments made to the regulations under the Nova Scotia Labour Standards Code are coming into force on July 1st, 2018. These amendments specifically define Canada Day as July 1st regardless of which day of the week it falls on, as is the case in Newfoundland and Labrador.
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