The federal government is moving forward with plans to add a new statutory holiday to mark the legacy of residential schools in Canada.
While a date has not yet been decided for the holiday, it is meant to offer a solemn reminder of the thousands of Indigenous children who were taken from their families, forbidden to practice their culture and subjected to physical, psychological and sexual abuse in the schools.
It’s something the Trudeau government pledged to do while accepting all the recommendations made in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report in 2015.
But whether provinces will adopt the statutory holiday remains unclear.
On Wednesday, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said the province will consider whether the day will be observed in the province.
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“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,” Moe said.
The premier said that even if Saskatchewan doesn’t adopt the holiday, it doesn’t mean the province doesn’t support the message behind it.
“There’s actually four provinces that have not adopted Remembrance Day as a statutory holiday, Manitoba being one of those,” Moe said. “I think it’s safe to say the people of Manitoba very much respect Remembrance Day and everything it signifies.”
There’s no set timeline for when the stat holiday will be in place, but once it is, federally governed employees will be given a paid day off. That includes federal employees, banks and some transportation companies.
Provinces in Canada have the ability to decide which stat holidays are extended to other workers within their employment standards acts, Toronto-based employment lawyer Jon Pinkus told Global News.
“Workplace law, for the most part, is a provincial issue, and the provinces have power over things like that,” he said.
“There’s rules about what the holidays are. Some industries are exempt, some industries don’t have a right to have time off, some don’t have the right to premium pay for working on holidays,” Pinkus explained, highlighting some areas the provincial legislations cover.
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He noted Remembrance Day as an example of a holiday that’s observed as a stat holiday in some provinces but not others.
Pinkus added that even if a province decides not to enforce a stat holiday, individual companies can still decide to offer it as a paid day off.
“The government is not going to stop companies from being generous,” he said.
— With files from Global News reporters David Baxter and Amanda Connolly
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