Everyone deserves a day off. Most governments acknowledged this fact and created a list of public holidays when you don’t work. But while in other countries these work on a national scale, things are a little different in Canada.

Although Canada has 5 national holidays that apply to the whole country, each province might issue additional ones. This can be confusing if you’ve never been to Canada before. But the reason behind these holidays is the same as in other countries. Many celebrate religious, cultural, and historical events.

If you’re looking for a map of the uncharted territory of Canadian holidays, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll help you make sense of the statutory holidays celebrated in this beautiful country.

5 Nationwide statutory holidays you need to know about

As the name implies, Nationwide Canadian holidays are celebrated in the whole country. Most public and private institutions don’t operate on these 5 days. Notable exceptions include hospitals, security, and airports.

The following 5 statutory holidays are considered nationwide:

New Year’s Day

Most countries that follow the Gregorian calendar celebrate the 1st of January as New Year’s Day. Canada is no exception

Good Friday

Good Friday is a Christian holiday. It is a tribute to the day when Jesus Christ was crucified. Quebecois employers might choose to move this statutory holiday to Easter Monday instead.

Canada Day

Once known as Dominion Day, this statutory holiday celebrates the birth of the Canadian Confederation in 1867. It falls on the 1st of July every year.

Labor Day

Labor Day celebrates the creation of the labor union movement. It falls on the first Monday in September.

Christmas Day

Most western countries celebrate Christmas Day, the day when Jesus Christ was presumably born. Christmas Day falls on the 25th of December.

5 Federal Statutory holidays you can’t forget about

Federal statutory holidays are celebrated in only some of the Canadian provinces. Employees are eligible for a day off with pay on these 5 holidays.

There are 5 Canadian federal statutory holidays:

Victoria Day

Also referred to as Patriots’ Day, this holiday falls on the last Monday of May. Provinces that celebrate Victoria Day are British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest, Saskatchewan, Nunavut, and Yukon.

Thanksgiving Day

Canadian Thanksgiving Day falls on the 10th of October. Only 8 provinces recognize it. These are Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Quebec, Yukon, Ontario, and Northwest.

Remembrance Day

Most provinces recognize Remembrance Day as a statutory holiday. The exceptions include Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland. It falls on the 11th of November.

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Though it was meant to be a nationwide holiday, only 6 provinces recognize it. It falls on the 30th of September. National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is relatively new, having been made a statutory holiday in 2022.

The 6 provinces that celebrate it are Manitoba, British Columbia, Northwest, Yukon, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia.

Boxing Day

Boxing day is recognized only in Ontario and falls on the 26th of December.

10 provincial and territorial statutory holidays you should remember

Provincial governments oversee this type of statutory holiday. These days can thus be statutory holidays in one province and normal working days in another.

Some of the provincial holidays don’t apply to federal employees. Federal employees are overseen by the Canada Labor Code, not provincial employment standards.

Below are 10 provincial statutory holidays you should know about:

Family Day

Family Day falls on the third Monday in February. It is recognized in Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nunavut, Ontario, and Saskatchewan.

In New Brunswick, it falls on the 21st of February instead.

Civic Holiday

The 6 provinces celebrating this holiday are Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nunavut, and Saskatchewan. It falls on the first Monday in August.

Louise Riel Day

This Manitoban holiday falls on the 21st of February.

National Holiday

This Quebecois holiday is observed on the 24th of June.

Heritage Day

The two provinces celebrating this holiday are Yukon and Nova Scotia. It falls on the 21st of February.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is unique to Newfoundland and falls on the 1st of July.

Discovery Day

Discovery Day falls on the third Monday in August. Only Yukon observes it.

National Indigenous Peoples Day

Also known as National Aboriginal Day, this provincial statutory holiday falls on the 21st of June. It’s celebrated in Yukon and the Northwest.

British Columbia Day

British Columba celebrates this day on the first Monday in August.

New Brunswick Day

New Brunswick celebrates this day on the first Monday in August.

Do you get paid on statutory holidays in Canada?

In Canada, you are eligible to earn statutory holiday pay. However, you must meet certain requirements to qualify. Firstly, you must have worked for at least 30 calendar days. And prior to the statutory holiday, you must have worked on 15 of the last 30 days.

As long as you work full-time, you can get paid on all public holidays. But keep in mind you have to work on the day before or after to qualify. The specifics vary between individual contracts.

While these are the general rules, they’re not set in stone. Your employer might choose to pay you even if you don’t meet this requirement. Many do this to boost employee morale.

What does working on a statutory holiday look like?

If you work on a statutory holiday, you’re eligible for extra pay. Though the bonus is rarely more than the regular pay rate for that day, it can still be worth it. Apart from getting your regular pay, you’ll get an additional bonus if you work through a statutory holiday.

If you work for 12 hours on a statutory holiday, you get the time and a half of your regular pay. Every additional hour is considered double time.

Most Canadian provinces have employee-friendly policies. If you don’t get a substitute holiday, you may receive a holiday with pay instead.

Statutory Canadian holidays and weekends

In most provinces, a statutory holiday is moved to the following Monday when it would otherwise fall on a Sunday. However, holidays don’t move on a substitute day when they fall on a Saturday. Still, the employees are qualified for a holiday with pay on the day preceding or following the holiday.

Employers are obliged to give their employees a substitute day if a holiday falls on a weekend in Ontario. In Manitoba and Nova Scotia, it falls to the employers to choose when the substitute holiday will be.

Our final thoughts on Canadian holidays

Canadian statutory holidays can be placed into three different categories. Nationwide holidays are observed in most of the country’s provinces and territories. Federal ones apply strictly to federal employees while provincial and territorial ones are celebrated only in certain regions. These are often observed in just a single province.

Some employers can give their employees additional days off before Christmas. However, this is not mandatory and it’s up to them to offer these bonus days off.

Other important Canadian holidays include Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and Halloween. But keep in mind that these are not official holidays, so you don’t get a day off.

If you liked this article about public holidays in Canada, you should check out this one on how many working days are in a year.

You should also check out these other articles of ours about public holidays in France, UK bank holidays, US Federal holidays, Australian holidays, New Zealand holidays, and also public holidays in Japan, South Korea, and Singapore.

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