Client Update: Isn’t Canada Day always on July 1? (updated)

Grant Machum and Sheila Lanctôt

While most people think Canada Day is on July 1st, once every 6 years, July 1st falls on a Sunday. When that happens, according to federal legislation, Canada Day is legally observed on July 2nd.

The Holidays Act is a federal legislation that provides for three specific holidays to be observed nationally; Remembrance Day, Victoria Day, and Canada Day. The Act provides that Canada Day is to be observed on July 1st, except if it falls on a Sunday. In that case, Canada Day is observed as a legal holiday on July 2nd.

Why does this matter?

July 1st, 2018 falls on a Sunday.

Employment standards legislation in each Atlantic Province outlines how employees are to be compensated on public holidays. In Nova Scotia (who has recently amended the regulations under their employment standards legislation), and Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Day is observed on July 1st, regardless of what day of the week it is.

In New Brunswick and on Prince Edward Island, employment standards legislation does not designate a specific date for Canada Day, which means that when Canada Day falls on a Sunday, it will be observed on July 2nd, in accordance with the Holidays Act.

What observing Canada Day on July 2nd means for employers

  • When Canada Day is observed on July 2nd, July 1st is to be treated the same as any other Sunday would be treated.
  • Provincial employment standards legislation that outlines time off and compensation for Canada Day applies for July 2nd.

What must employers pay their employees who work on a public holiday?

  • Although most retail businesses are required to be closed on public holidays, the legislation exempts some businesses; therefore, some employees are asked to work on public holidays.
  • When paying employees who work on a public holiday, check your employment standards legislation which differ from province to province with respect to pay and/or a substitute paid day off.
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