Diversity & Inclusion
What each province, territory is doing on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
By Brittany Hobson
Today is the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange Shirt Day.
The federal government made Sept. 30 a statutory holiday for its workers and federally regulated workplaces last year. And it is up to each province and territory to decide whether to also make it a statutory holiday for workers in their governments, schools and businesses.
Here is what they are doing:
Similar to last year, B.C. has advised public sector employers, including those in public schools, that the day should be observed as a statutory holiday by those who are normally entitled to federal and provincial stats. Essential services will operate as normal. The province has consulted with residential school survivors, Indigenous partners and communities about creating a new holiday, and is seeking input from employers and employees. The province has said that the earliest changes can be made under the Employment Standards Act would be for 2023.
Alberta has left it up to employers to implement it as a statutory holiday. A spokesman with Indigenous Relations, Ted Bauer, says the province has chosen to commemorate the day through education and action, as work is being done to create a residential school monument and garden. The United Nurses of Alberta has said Alberta Health Services told it to recognize the day as a named holiday after the union filed a grievance.
Saskatchewan says it is not considering additional statutory holidays at this time. Matthew Glover, director of media relations with the government, says Sept. 30 will continue to be an important day for reflection, recognition and an opportunity for all citizens to learn more about the legacy of residential schools.
The Manitoba government is observing the day for a second year, while discussions continue about making it a statutory holiday. Schools and non-essential government services and offices will be closed. The province says it is consulting with Indigenous and labour groups.
Sept. 30 is not a statutory holiday in Ontario. Schools will be open and operating as usual. Erika Robson, a spokesperson for Minister of Indigenous Affairs Greg Rickford, says the day is a time for schools, workplaces and communities to honour those affected by the legacy of residential school policies, and is similar to how Remembrance Day is observed across the province.
They day is not a statutory holiday in Quebec. Last year, the government said it had no plans to make it one.
Nova Scotia will be observing the day for a second year in a row. Provincial government offices, public schools, regulated childcare and other non-essential public services will be closed. Businesses have the choice to remain open. The day is not a general paid holiday. The government is in discussions with Mi’kmaw leaders and communities, as well as businesses and organizations, on how best to honour the day in the future.
The province recently declared Sept. 30 a provincial holiday. All essential services, including health care, will continue to be delivered. The holiday is optional for private sector businesses.
Prince Edward Island
P.E.I. said last year it would recognize the day. It is one of eight paid holidays in the province under the Employment Standards Act. Provincial government offices and schools will close.
Newfoundland and Labrador
The government says consultations continue with Indigenous governments and organizations and the business and labour sector about making the day a public holiday under the Labour Standards Act. For now, provincial government offices, schools and other entities will be closed. The province is encouraging businesses and other organizations to commemorate the day.
The territory announced last month that changes had been made to the Labour Standards Act, Legislation Act and Public Service Act to make the day a statutory holiday, which applies to public service employees and those with territorially regulated businesses.
N.W.T. amended the Employment Standards Act in the summer to add the day to its list of statutory holidays to be observed annually beginning this year.
The territory surveyed members of public, First Nations, businesses and other groups to get feedback on what the day should look like. It says support was mixed for making it a statutory holiday. The government says it is continuing consultations but the earliest Sept. 30 could become a stat would be next year. This year, the territory is observing the day and Yukon government employees will not be required to work. Schools will be closed.
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