Federal and BC Governments Announce Day of Mourning on September 19, 2022: What Does this Mean for Employers?

September 14, 2022

In a statement released yesterday, the federal government announced that September 19, 2022 will be a National Day of Mourning in Canada. This follows the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, 2022 and coincides with the State Funeral being held in London. The federal government also encouraged provinces to provide similar direction for provincially regulated employers. Read the press release here.

Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan has clarified that the day will be a holiday for federal government employees only. Federally regulated employers are not required to recognize the holiday. Read the tweet here.  Accordingly, this is not a formal statutory holiday under the Canada Labour Code.

In British Columbia, Premier John Horgan issued a statement confirming that the province will follow the lead of the federal government in observing a national day of mourning. The Premier required provincial public-sector employers to honour the day in recognition of the obligations around federal holidays in many provincial collective agreements. He further advised that K-12 public schools and public post-secondary institutions, and most Crown corporations will be closed. BC private sector employers are not required to recognize the day of mourning, absent collective agreement language requiring them to do so. Read the statement here.  Accordingly, this is not a formal statutory holiday under the BC Employment Standards Act.

Unionized employers should review their collective agreements for language regarding recognition of new holidays. Collective agreement language will vary and it is therefore important to review the specific language used. Importantly, employers should consider whether the collective agreement language only refers to formal statutory holidays, or something more ambiguous.

Responses by other Provinces

Throughout the country, provinces have reacted in a multitude of ways.

  • The following provinces have recognized September 19, 2022 as a provincial holiday: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.
  • The following provinces, along with the federal government, have recognized September 19, 2022 as a day of mourning and quasi-holiday, focusing on public sector employers: British Columbia, Manitoba, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • The following provinces have not recognized September 19, 2022 as a provincial holiday but are declaring the day one of “commemoration” or “mourning”: Saskatchewan, Quebec, and Ontario.

At the time of this article, Alberta had not announced if or how it would recognize September 19, 2022.

For questions on any information contained in today’s bulletin, please feel free to reach out to a member of our firm.

While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy in this article, you are urged to seek specific advice on matters of concern and not to rely solely on what is contained herein. The article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.