August 15, 2018 7:56 pm
Updated: August 16, 2018 7:28 am

No guarantee new statutory holiday will be observed in Saskatchewan

Premier Scott Moe discusses the proposed statutory holiday at Government House.

Adrian Raaber/Global News
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The federal government is moving forward with plans to create a new statutory holiday to honour the legacy of residential schools. However, once a date is chosen there is no guarantee the stat will be observed in Saskatchewan.

“We’ll have to have those discussions on whether or not we implement it as a full statutory holiday here in the province, what the cost to employers would be, understanding the government of Saskatchewan is also a large employer here in the province,” Premier Scott Moe said.

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Over roughly a century, thousands of Indigenous children were taken from their families and forced to attend schools where they were forbidden from practicing their culture. There are also accounts of students being subjected to physical, psychological and sexual abuse.

Ottawa will be working with First Nations groups to determine a suitable date. There is no timeline for when the new stat will be introduced.

READ MORE: Feds considering stat holiday to mark legacy of residential schools. Can it be more than ‘just another day off?’

Opposition Leader Ryan Meili is highly critical of the premier’s hesitance to say the new holiday will be observed in Saskatchewan.

“For him to say that this would be an issue of cost fails to recognize the significant ongoing cost to our province of residential schools. Increased health problems, higher levels of poverty, over-representation of Indigenous children in foster care – these are the real ongoing costs of the residential school legacy. Taking the time to recognize this dark period of our history is a key step to remembering our past and ensuring we don’t see similar problems in the future,” Meili said.

“Saskatchewan had many residential schools and thousands of survivors of those schools and their families continue to live with the negative impact. What message would it send if the rest of the country recognized this day, but Saskatchewan refused to do so?”

Moe said that he understands where the federal government will come from, and a future direction will be an ongoing discussion within government.

“I think in no way whether or not you make it an actual statutory holiday does that speak to whether you’re supportive or non-supportive of federal statutory holidays we have,” Moe said.

“There’s actually four provinces that have not adopted Remembrance Day as a statutory holiday, Manitoba being one of those. I think it’s safe to say the people of Manitoba very much respect Remembrance Day and everything it signifies.”

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