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Quebec’s construction holiday: where does it come from?

WATCH: Quebec’s construction holiday has been around for 40 years. Global’s Sarah Volstad finds out about where it comes from.

MONTREAL – Over the next two weeks, roughly a quarter of Quebecers will take vacation.

The province’s unique construction holiday has become an annual tradition − but where does it come from?

As it turns out, Quebec’s construction holiday has been around for over 40 years.

“I think it started with the industrial sector,” said Simon-Pierre Pouliot, spokesperson for the Commission de la Construction du Quebec (CCQ).

“It really was the kind of negotiation that people had trying to have a break in the summer.”

It eventually moved to the construction industry, and then in 1970, was made official by government decree.

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“It’s now part of the negotiations between the syndicates, the unions and the owners,” said Pouliot.

“They decide to have these two weeks.”

Quebec’s first construction holiday took place in the summer of 1971.

Now, decades later, it has become a tradition that touches more than just one industry.

The holiday officially starts Sunday, July 19.

Roughly 200 000 workers, employers and suppliers will be off work until August 1.

“And those are only the people who are in the industry,” said Pouliot.

“If you talk about the province as a whole, it’s something like one out of four who will be on vacation.”

Workers across the province are making plans for their time off.

But not everyone is looking forward to the days ahead.

Taxi driver Mohamed Alameddine said his revenues drop by roughly 40 per cent during the two week break.

He said he has to work overtime to compensate for the lack of business.

At the Chateau Ramezay museum in Old Montreal, business continues as usual during the holiday as many Montrealers choose a stay-cation over a vacation.

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“I think the temperature is more important in determining if we have more visitors or less than the construction weeks,” said Louise Brazeau, coordinator at the museum.

Of course, there are certain exceptions to the mandatory break: road work will continue over the next two weeks and any urgent construction will be carried out.

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