September 30 marks Canada's National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Responding to Call to Action 80 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's (the "Commission") Calls to Action, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation intends to acknowledge the legacy of Canada's residential school system and its effects on the nation's Indigenous families and communities, to honour those affected, and to create opportunities for action including public education and support initiatives, such as Orange Shirt Day.
With September 30 quickly approaching, employers are asking important questions.
Is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation a statutory holiday?
For workers who are federally regulated under the Canada Labour Code, September 30 is now an annually observed statutory holiday. As well, the governments of Prince Edward Island and the Northwest Territories have amended their respective employment standards legislation to incorporate the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as an annually observed statutory holiday.
In all other Canadian jurisdictions, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is not a statutory holiday.
In provinces where September 30 is not a statutory holiday, can employers provide their employees with time off?
In provinces in which September 30 is not a statutory holiday, employers may nevertheless choose to recognize the day as a paid day off. Alternatively, employers may want to consider supporting employees who wish to apply their existing paid time off or vacation time to September 30.
How else can employers support employees on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation?
In keeping with the purpose behind Canada's National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, employers might also consider other ways in which they can facilitate opportunities to recognize September 30 within the workplace. This may include:
- making space for employees to recognize the day through initiatives, such as company-wide forums;
- holding learning and education sessions;
- educating employees about land acknowledgements and their purpose;
- officially recognizing, and encouraging employees to participate in, Orange Shirt Day;
- considering developing and implementing a reconciliation plan; and
- developing and/or reviewing existing workplace policies and practices with the lens of equity, diversity, inclusion and reconciliation.
Employers may also want to provide employees with information on available employee assistance program benefits, including specialized support services, which may be useful to affected employees.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.