Public holidays in Canada

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Public holidays in Canada, known as "statutory holidays", "stat holidays", or simply "stats", are legislated at the national, provincial and territorial levels. Many of these holidays are observed nationwide, but each province and territory has its own holidays as well.

While major Christian holidays such as Christmas and Good Friday are officially observed,[1] leave is permitted for other religious holidays as well. For example, some school children and employees take days off for Jewish holidays, Muslim holidays, or Eastern Orthodox observances according to the Julian calendar. While not normally taken off work, Valentine's Day, Saint Patrick's Day, Halloween, Mother's Day, and Father's Day are traditionally observed by Canadians. The Celebrate Canada series is a collection of important cultural days beginning with National Aboriginal Day on June 21, and followed by St-Jean Baptiste Day on June 24, Canadian Multiculturalism Day on June 27, and concluding with Canada Day on July 1.

Statutory holidays[edit]

A statutory holiday (also known as "stats" or "general" or "public" holiday) in Canada is legislated either through the federal, or a provincial or territorial government.[2] Most workers, public and private, are entitled to take the day off with regular pay. However, some employers may require employees to work on such a holiday, but the employee must either receive a day off in lieu of the holiday or must be paid at a premium rate – usually 1½ (known as "time and a half") or twice (known as "double time") the regular pay for their time worked that day, in addition to the holiday pay[citation needed] (except for high technology workers in British Columbia).[3] In most provinces, when a statutory holiday falls on a normal day off (generally a weekend), the following work day is considered a statutory holiday. Statistics Canada shows an average of 11 paid statutory holidays per year in regard to all firms and corporations operating within the province[citation needed].

Nationwide statutory holidays in Canada[edit]

DateEnglish nameFrench NameRemarks
January 1New Year's DayJour de l'AnCelebrates the first day of every year in the Gregorian calendar.
Friday before Easter DayGood FridayVendredi saintCommemorates the crucifixion of Jesus. In Quebec, non-federally regulated employers must give either Good Friday or Easter Monday as a statutory holiday, though some give both days.
July 1 (July 2 when July 1 is a Sunday)Canada DayFête du CanadaCelebrates Canada's 1867 Confederation and establishment of dominion status.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, observed as Memorial Day.

First Monday in SeptemberLabour DayFête du travailCelebrates economic and social achievements of workers.
December 25Christmas DayNoëlCelebrates the Nativity of Jesus.

Statutory holidays for federal employees[edit]

In addition to the nationwide holidays listed above, the following holidays are mandated by federal legislation for federally regulated employees. All banks commemorate these holidays, and they are statutory in some provinces and territories.

DateEnglish NameFrench NameRemarks
In lieu of Good Friday (Stat Holiday), Monday after Easter DayEaster MondayLundi de PâquesCelebrates the resurrection of Jesus.

Not a statutory holiday in any province or territory; however, in Quebec employers must give either Good Friday or Easter Monday as a statutory holiday, though most give both days.

Banks remain open (legally they cannot close for more than three consecutive days except in emergencies[citation needed]), but employees often receive a "floating" paid day off to be taken on or near the holiday.

This is not one of the nine "General Holidays" as defined by the Canada Labour Code – Part III. As such, there is no legal requirement for private sector employers in federally regulated industries to provide Easter Monday as a paid holiday to employees. However, many federal government offices will be closed on this day.

Monday on or before May 24Victoria DayFête de la Reine ou Journée nationale des PatriotesCelebrates the birthday of the reigning Canadian monarch; however, the date does not change with the change of monarch, being instead fixed on the birthday of Queen Victoria, the sovereign at the time of Canadian Confederation and establishment of dominion status in 1867. Some French-Canadians celebrate instead Adam Dollard des Ormeaux a French-Canadian hero from the New France times.

Statutory holiday in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Ontario, Quebec (coincides with National Patriots' Day), Saskatchewan, and Yukon. A holiday in New Brunswick under the Days of Rest Act.

Not a statutory holiday in the eastern maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island or in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Second Monday in OctoberThanksgivingAction de grâceA day to give thanks for the things one has at the close of the harvest season.

Statutory holiday in most jurisdictions of Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and Yukon.[4]

An optional holiday in the Atlantic provinces of Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.[4] In New Brunswick, included under the Days of Rest Act.

November 11Remembrance DayJour du SouvenirCommemorates Canada's war dead. Anniversary of the armistice ending World War I in 1918.

Statutory holiday in Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, and Yukon.

In Manitoba, an "Official day of Observance", not a statutory holiday.

In Ontario and Nova Scotia, not a statutory holiday in that employers have the option of giving Remembrance Day or an alternate day off.

Not a statutory holiday in Quebec.

December 26Boxing DayLendemain de NoëlA holiday with mixed and uncertain origins and definitions.[5]

Provincially, a statutory holiday in Ontario. A holiday in New Brunswick under the Days of Rest Act.

Many employers across the country observe Boxing Day as a paid day off.

Other common statutory holidays[edit]

DateEnglish NameFrench NameRemarks
Third Monday in February (BC 2nd Monday in February)Family DayFête de la familleStatutory holiday in Alberta, Ontario, and Saskatchewan.

British Columbia celebrated its first Family Day in 2013 (on the 2nd Monday in February).[6]

Celebrated as Louis Riel Day (statutory holiday) in Manitoba.

Celebrated as "Islander Day" in Prince Edward Island.

Not observed elsewhere.

First Monday in AugustAugust Civic HolidayPremier lundi d'aoûtStatutory holiday in British Columbia (British Columbia Day), New Brunswick (New Brunswick Day), Northwest Territories (Civic Holiday), Nunavut (Civic Holiday), and Saskatchewan (Saskatchewan Day).

Civic holiday (may be a paid vacation day depending on employer) in Alberta (Heritage Day), Manitoba (Civic Holiday), Ontario (Colonel By Day + John Galt Day + Simcoe Day + others), Nova Scotia (Natal Day), Prince Edward Island (Federal Civic Holiday).

Not observed in Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, or Yukon.

Provincial and territorial holidays[edit]

Provinces and territories generally adopt the same holidays as the federal government with some variations:

January 1New Year's DayJour de l'AnNational
Second Monday in FebruaryFamily DayFête de la famille-V-----------
Third Monday in FebruaryLouis Riel DayJournée Louis Riel--V----------
Third Monday in FebruaryIslander DayFête des Insulaires---------V---
Third Monday in FebruaryFamily DayFête de la familleV-------V--V-
March 17Saint Patrick's DayJour de la Saint-Patrick----V--------
Friday before Easter DayGood FridayVendredi saintNational
Monday after Easter DayEaster MondayLundi de PâquesV--------V---
April 23Saint George's DayJour de St. George----V--------
Monday on or before May 24National Patriots' DayJournée nationale des patriotes----------V--
Monday on or before May 24Victoria DayFête de la Reine ou Journée nationale des PatriotesVVVV-VVVVV-VV
June 21National Aboriginal DayJournée nationale des Autochthones-----V-------
June 24Discovery Day / National HolidayJournée découverte / Fête nationale / Saint-Jean-Baptiste----V-----V-V
July 1Canada DayFête du CanadaNational
July 12Orangemen's DayFête des orangistes----V--------
First Monday in AugustCivic HolidayPremier lundi d'août-VV-VV-V-----
First Monday in AugustHeritage DayFête du patrimoineV-----------V
First Monday in AugustNatal DayJour de la Fondation------V------
Third Friday in AugustGold Cup Parade DayDéfilé de la Coupe d'or---------V---
First Monday in SeptemberLabour DayFête du travailNational
Second Monday in OctoberThanksgivingAction de grâceVVVV-VVVVVVVV
November 11Armistice DayJour de l'Armistice----V--------
November 11Remembrance DayJour du SouvenirVV-V-VVV-V-VV
December 25Christmas DayNoëlNational
December 26Boxing DayLendemain de NoëlV--V--V-VV---


Provincial statutory

British Columbia[edit]

Provincial statutory


Provincial statutory

New Brunswick[edit]

Provincial statutory

Newfoundland and Labrador[edit]

Provincial statutory

These have not been observed as statutory holidays since 1992. They are, however, observed by the provincial government. Unlike most other provinces, there is no province-wide holiday on the first Monday in August. It may be seen as redundant due to the Royal St. John's Regatta, which is observed as a civic holiday in St. John's on the first Wednesday in August (or, in case of poor weather, the next suitable day thereafter). Harbour Grace and Labrador City have a similar holiday for their regatta in late July. All other municipalities are entitled to designate one day a year as a civic holiday, however many do not take advantage of this.

Northwest Territories[edit]

Territorial statutory

Nova Scotia[edit]

Provincial statutory


Territorial statutory


Provincial statutory

Prince Edward Island[edit]

Provincial statutory


Provincial statutory


Provincial statutory


Territorial statutory

Municipal holidays[edit]

Some municipalities also have local statutory holidays. For instance, the morning of the Stampede Parade is often given as a half-day holiday in the city of Calgary. In Ontario, the August Civic Holiday is not defined provincially, but by each municipality.

Civic holidays[edit]

In Canada, there are two definitions of the term "civic holiday":

Legal definition[edit]

By law, a civic holiday is defined as any holiday which is legally recognized and for which employers are obliged to offer holiday pay.

The August Civic Holiday[edit]

In parts of Canada, the term "Civic Holiday" is a generic name referring to the annual holiday on the first Monday of August. However, this definition is far from uniform nationwide as Quebec, Newfoundland and Yukon do not recognize it at all. Five other provinces (Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island) do not oblige employers to offer holiday pay on this day, thus not making it a civic holiday in the legal sense. No universal name is recognized for this holiday – the official name varies between the provinces and even between municipalities within Ontario. In Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories it is a statutory holiday.

The Civic Holiday is meant to replace a city's birthday aka Natal Day. Instead of each city and town having a separate birthday celebration and day off the August Civic Holiday is observed. For example, the Halifax Regional Municipality is made up of former cities Halifax and Dartmouth and the town of Bedford. Each of these places used to hold civic birthday celebrations on different days. Many people lived in one jurisdiction but worked in another. This would be very confusing as to which day a person would be excused from work.

This holiday is commonly referred to as "August Long Weekend" but this is not a government term.

Proposed holidays[edit]

In recent years there has been a call for the Canadian government to recognize Saint Patrick's Day as a national holiday. Currently it is a holiday only for provincial government employees in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The other leading candidate for a new holiday is a weekend in February to celebrate the anniversary of the Canadian flag, or more likely a general "Heritage Day". February 15 is already designated as Flag Day, but this is simply a day of commemoration, not a statutory holiday.

In the province of Nova Scotia, which has relatively few days off, a bill has been introduced for a new holiday for the third Monday in February, to start in 2015.[20]

In November 2014, Bill C-597 passed second reading in the House of Commons by a margin of 258 to 2. If the bill becomes law, Remembrance Day would become a federal holiday in Canada.[21]

Holidays occurring on non-work days[edit]

If a holiday occurs on a day that is normally not worked, then "... another day off with pay will be provided."[22] There are some exceptions, however. In Alberta, an employee is not entitled to compensation if a holiday falls on a non-work day.[23]

When New Year's Day, Canada Day, Remembrance Day, Christmas Day or Boxing Day falls on a Saturday or Sunday you would not normally work, you are entitled to a holiday with pay on the working day immediately before or after the holiday. If one of the other holidays falls on a weekend, then your employer must add a holiday with pay to your annual vacation or give you a paid day off at another mutually convenient time.

Other observances[edit]


  1. ^ "Statutory Holidays". Government of Canada. 2012-02-15. Retrieved 2012-03-30. 
  2. ^ "Work Rights – Statutory Holidays". Canadian Labour Congress. 2007-01-17. Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  3. ^ "High Technology Professionals and High Technology Companies in[British Columbia Fact Sheet". Government of BC, Labour & Citizens' Services, Employment Standards Branch. 2007-05-18. Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  4. ^ a b "Statutory Holidays in Canada". Retrieved 2012-10-06. 
  5. ^ – "Boxing Day"Urban Legends Reference Pages. Retrieved 2010-03-22.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "General Holidays and General Holiday Pay in Alberta". Retrieved 2011-02-20. 
  8. ^ "Statutory Holidays in British Columbia - 2012 - 2015". Retrieved 2013-12-25. 
  9. ^ "Manitoba Retail Businesses Holiday Closing Act". Retrieved 2011-02-20. 
  10. ^ "Paid Statutory Holidays in Employment Standards Legislation". 2010-12-14. Retrieved 2011-02-20. 
  11. ^ "Prescribed Days of Rest in New Brunswick 2011-2014". Government of New Brunswick. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  12. ^ "Post-Secondary Education, Training, and Labour: Paid Public Holidays and Vacation/ Vacation Pay". Government of New Brunswick. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  13. ^ "Shops' Closing Regulations, C.N.L.R. 1115/96". 
  14. ^ "Labour Standards Code". Office of the Legislative Council, Nova Scotia House of Assembly. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  15. ^ "General Labour Standards Code Regulations". Office of the Legislative Council, Nova Scotia House of Assembly. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  16. ^ "Remembrance Day Act". Office of the Legislative Counsel, Nova Scotia House of Assembly. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  17. ^ a b "Public Holidays". Ontario Ministry of Labour. 2013-05-17. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  18. ^ "Québec's Holidays". 
  19. ^ "Government Services - Holidays". Government of Yukon. 2012-09-26. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  20. ^ Carter, Pat (2013-12-05). "New bill would create N.S. February holiday starting in 2015". The Canadian Press/AP. Retrieved 2014-02-25. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ "General Overview - Statutory Holidays". Human Resources and Social Development Canada. 2011-10-05. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  23. ^ "General Holidays and General Holiday Pay". Human Services - Government of Alberta. March 2011. Retrieved 2012-12-28. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]